In April 2018 I had the great opportunity to backpack around the Philippines. A place, a culture, and environment like I have never experienced.
Beautiful in many ways. The people, the food, the rich culture, and beautiful islands in the under developed areas.
Thinking back, as I landed in Cebu City to begin my trip, I remember the overwhelm of my senses, in this new environment.
The sight of seemingly unorganized traffic going every which way
The smell of smog, that I could also taste
The constant sound of horns, and people yelling in a language to which I did not understand
To say the least, a bit overwhelming for someone born and raised in the US Midwest.
As I carried my 50lb backpack around the city for the first eight hours, while I figured out where I was staying, it became clear to me, I was afraid.
Not because I was in danger
Not because someone threatened me
Not because someone looked at me aggressively
Not because any other of a million reasons our mind may come up with
No! I was afraid because this was new, this was uncharted territory,
And mostly, because I did not understand the people, nor the culture of the place I was visiting.
My fear was in my mind. It was the story I was telling myself. A story of…
”what could go wrong”.
”what might go wrong”
And so on…
Which, living in the US, it is not uncommon for us to spend more time focusing on potential threats, than actual threats.
Which often, keeps us from expanding our comfort zones, experiencing anything new, or gaining understanding that we once did not possess.
In short, the stories we can tell ourselves, if not confronted, keep us in a self made bubble.
For me, walking around the Philippines, in the heart of Cebu City, and based on my own research, logically I knew that I was not in danger, but my emotions, my fear response said something different.
I knew that I wanted to work through the limiting beliefs that I possessed, that could have easily kept me in my room, versus getting out and exploring the city, the country, and interacting with the people who call this home.
After contemplating and identifying the false beliefs that I had about where I was, which was an uncomfortable, yet freeing experience, I was able to work through my self created fears, and for the remainder to my trip, openly explore everything this country had to offer.
I’m grateful that I did, because not only did I meet some incredible people, it set the foundation for me to venture back out on the trip I am about to embark on.
An important takeaway, it’s okay to do research, to know where you are going, the state of a country, but often, the biggest threat is the story we tell ourselves that keeps us in a state of hesitation, procrastination, and ultimately, fear.
And, notably, what is shared here is not relevant to just travel. Even at home with…
And so on….
When we seek to understand something or someone better, often times we will find, the “threat” we perceive, is fabricated in our minds.
For me, I’m committed to getting back out into this big world and learning more about what other people have to say, what their cultures are like, and gain a deeper understanding of this thing we call humanity.