“Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.” ~ George Addair
Travelling in Europe with my daughter for three and a half months was a big learning curve for me. It was my first time taking an extended trip as solo parent, which was both exciting and intimidating. I was responsible for making all of the decisions, arranging our travel plans, and ensuring that we got everywhere safely and on time. It was a lot to take on, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and it resulted in an amazing adventure for us both.
Throughout our time abroad, when facing something unfamiliar and new, it tended to generate anxiety; but as I was the adult ‘in charge’, I had to push through my fear, and focus my attention on getting us to where we needed to go, or doing what we needed to do. After repeating this action numerous times, over a relatively short period, I was pleasantly surprised at how things unfolded. I discovered that I am pretty good at figuring things out and finding a pathway forward; and when challenges arise, there are often kind people (both strangers and friends) to turn to, and ask for help.
For example, it has been many years since I last spoke French, and I was really rusty when we returned to France. As I am now in my late forties, and less self-conscious, I barrelled ahead, despite making lots of mistakes. Seizing the opportunity to speak French on a daily basis was more important to me than being too intimidated to try. For the first few weeks, it was hard to be so terrible at it, but I kept pushing forward with my efforts. Eventually, I started to make incremental improvements, and before I knew it, I was receiving regular compliments from native speakers. I even established friendships with a group of locals. These affirmations meant the world to me and encouraged me to keep going.
In the second month we were in Aix, we did not host any visitors, and my daughter was in school full-time. I intentionally planned this time to slow down, as I wanted time to focus on my writing and photography, but once it arrived, I felt unsure about being alone for such a long period. I am used to being surrounded by a supportive community of friends and family. Once I moved through the initial fear, however, I decided to just take it one day at a time. Before I knew it, I had established a lovely daily routine, which I came to cherish, and I learned that I really enjoy my own company. This quiet, creative time became a highlight of my trip.
This experience was a valuable opportunity for me to learn about leaning into discomfort and facing fear. It has given me the confidence to incorporate this approach into my regular life and make more brave choices on a daily basis. I am excited see where it leads me next.