One thing to ask when you’re afraid

March 15, 2017 in Career,Life,Philosophy,Travel

One of the things that I find really helpful when I’m feeling nervous about something (whether it’s big or small) is to ask myself one question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” 

in traveling and life, we often overestimate the risks or worry about the things we can’t control. We expend all of our energy worrying about the plane arriving on time or getting lost in a new city, but there’s little we can do to make the plane move faster and often the best things are discovered accidentally.

When I moved to France and Australia and New York City, a lot of my friends and family were blown away: why would I risk leaving a good job with no promise of finding another when I came back? Why was I building this giant hole in my resume and my bank account? How I would ever find someone to settle down with if I was constantly running away? But my mom always told me that there are jobs for good people, and that you can always make more money. And I always figured that my worst case scenario would be failing or running out of money, and if that happened: I could always beg a loan off my parents and get on the next plane home with my tail between my legs. It wouldn’t be glorious, but hey: real life, it’s not the end of the world.

I get a lot of emails about women scared to travel alone or move to a new city or start over in a different industry. And my answer is usually some variation of: what’s the worst that could happen? Bad things can happen anywhere, and even the best-laid plans in the most stable life can fall apart. You never know! But if you’re yearning to do something and you don’t do it: that’s the real loss.

Taking an honest look at the worst-case scenario often helps me recalibrate what I’m actually afraid of, and shift my approach to figure out how to face my fears.

Do you have any tips to help overcome fear? 

  • Victoria

    Wow you posted this at the perfect time. I’m currently studying abroad and have a month off for spring break, but the trips I want to take aren’t matching up with my friend’s trips. I’ve been super concerned about going alone, but you’re right. What’s the worst that could happen!?

  • Diana

    I agree that it’s important to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and this is helpful when the roadblocks are mostly mental. However, this advice doesn’t really apply to those who don’t have a safety net, and the “worst that can happen” is being unable to pay rent and support your family. Just a different perspective – not to bring the sentiment down, but it would have been nice to acknowledge that privilege.

  • camorose

    YES! GO! That sounds like such a perfect opportunity to travel solo!!! (Can you tell I’m a little jealous?! A whole month in a new place!)

  • camorose

    Totally hear where you’re coming from, and appreciate the perspective!

Previous post:

Next post: