Since I’ve been moving around quite a bit this month, I’ve been getting the same question everywhere I go: aren’t you scared? Every. single. person. asks me this question. And I get it…honestly four months ago I was scared shitless. Can I really do this? And as a woman, all alone? But I’m happy to report that my answer has changed from “yeah, duh, I’m scared you idiot,” to “I was scared.” So what changed, oh sage one? At the almost-four-month-mark, I’ve learned a little thing or two about the world *clears throat, pushes glasses up nose.* One, I’ve met really special people that have renewed my hope in the world. If you are generally cautious about the people you spend time with (especially if you’re a woman), you’ll probably end up naturally gravitating towards people that are genuine and good. There are more good people in the world than bad people, and that’s something I’m now sure of. It’s a theme that comes through in all my posts (I hope). Two, I’ve learned that “what if” doesn’t only have to be negative. Let me explain. I’ve always avoided big solo-adventures because of the “what if’s”: what if it’s not safe, what if there are creeps, what if…. It’s easy to fall into this cycle: you think up a cool adventure, you decide it’s something you’d like to do, but then you think of all the things that can go wrong. Take the Camino, for example. I was super excited about the idea of walking across Spain and doing a religious pilgrimage for over a month. But I started thinking about what could go wrong: I could be walking alone for long stretched, I could meet creepy people, I could feel lonely, etc… This is a common phenomenon in our society, especially for women: ultra risk-aversion. We’re told absolute worse case scenarios and use those as our metric for risk assessment. It’s absolutely bonkers for any sensible human to make a decision based on the worst outcome. In reality, you have to ~optimize your risk~ (thanks, minor in economics) to have ~good returns~. There’s always going to be some risk. Yeah, some of my “what ifs” did occur: sometimes I was alone, sometimes I met weird people. But I took steps to keep myself safe and I surrounded myself with a support system. More importantly, good things happened I didn’t necessarily anticipate. There are plenty of positive “what if’s” that we never even consider: what if I meet lifelong friends, what if I push my limits and grow, what if I complete one of the most incredible journeys of my life? So, going forward, I’m going to try to think of the positive “what if’s” as well. I’ll still consider the negatives; it’s always important to assess risk, especially as a woman alone. But I will never again stop myself because of a few scary thoughts. This isn’t just a lesson in traveling. It’s definitely a lesson I hope to apply to my life in general. I mean I was scared to do this fellowship because of all the “bad things” that could happen to my career: I’ll be a year behind my peers, I won’t start earning money, blah blah blah. Yeah, those are certainly risks, negative “what if’s.” But there are also rewards: I know myself better, I have a deeper faith life, I have had time to think about my priorities and my aspirations. Overall, I feel more ready to be a “functioning adult” (whatever the hell that means…but I feel more ready, if that makes any sense). Aaaaand I’m having a ton of fun.