Bathroom Tiles: How Travel Taught Me to Live Without Fear
Hey ya'll, Lori here! I am so excited to share my travel experiences with the Cushy community. I have some exciting things to share: from how to pack for a month long trip, skin care while hitting three different countries, stories about interesting people I meet, and even how to deal with the existential crisis that comes from traveling alone. First, though, I thought I would share with you a little history of myself and tell you why traveling has become such an important part of my life.
I spent a good portion of my life living in fear. I was afraid of everything; I’m surprised I graduated college if I'm honest. I had a HUGE fear of the unknown, and I wanted a career that would provide me a routine. I got my degree in ballet. I figured that provided me with the stability I wanted, and public speaking would never be an option. My junior year of college I took a public speaking class, and I cried through my first speech. Thankfully, I had a sweet professor who let me give the rest of my speeches for the semester in her office alone. I cried through those as well. My fear made me live small. I thought if I played life safe then I would be able to prevent any experiences that left me uncomfortable. That’s why I never traveled alone. Because traveling alone would mean making choices, friends, and decisions that might be out of my comfort zone. Getting out of my comfort zone was never an option.
Here’s a piece of advice for y’all….don’t make plans because the universe will just laugh at you. That's how this former shy ballerina became a traveling director, speaker, and advocate, all because the universe laughed at my plans.
"My fear made me live small"
Two years ago, I packed up my house and left my job and town that I loved so much. I adored both of those things because they kept me safe, and I was not one to seek out the unknown. I got into a car with my husband and drove five hours west into a new state and new city so that my husband could start his new career. All that new left me with a headache. Two weeks into the move I got a job. I was going to work as a life coach for Tim, a man with Down Syndrome who was a local restaurant owner, and public speaker. The catch of this perfect job? It would require me to travel. I had a coworker at the time, so I accepted it because he could make all the decisions. This is when the universe really started laughing. One of my first trips I took was to NYC. I went a day before Tim and my coworker to meet some clients. I was going to do the entire thing alone. The night before that trip I laid on the bathroom floor crying because I had no idea how I was going to get around this foreign place. I forgot for a minute that I was just going to another state, not another planet. Either way, fear took over, and I almost quit my job. But that was the trip that changed my entire view on life.
Somehow I made it on the plane, got a cab, went to the hotel, checked in by myself, and met my clients for dinner. I have never felt more like a fucking adult than I did that day. NYC is not a kind place. It does not give a shit about you and your feelings, it moves fast, and it does not stop. It was just what I needed. That trip taught me that if you just keep going, you will survive. Life is just one big experience. If I had given into my fear that night, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be director of Tim’s new company. I would not own my business, and I probably would not be sharing my stories with y'all.
"Life is just one big experience"
Since that trip I have been on over a hundred planes, gone to three different countries, and visited over thirty states. I have read over two hundred books on my layovers and slept in Chicago midway more times than I can count. In fact, I’ve been to midway so many times I get a discount at one of the coffee shops (shout out to Brianna, the best barista in the States!). I have stayed at hotels with celebrities, and motels that Norman Bates could have owned. I have learned that falling in love with strangers and their stories are the best ways to learn a lesson. I have discovered that no one knows what the fuck we are doing, but that we are all in it together. It pushed me out of comfort zone, and it has made me view the world differently. It has taught me that life is mean and cruel and it never gets easier, but it keeps going. There is always a place in this world for you, and the good outshines the bad.
My outlook on life used to only be negative. I feared so much of the "bad" in this world, I was not able to see the beauty. Because my job forced me out into the world, literally, I was able to take that courage and apply it to my everyday life. Even on the shittiest days, I am grateful. Everyone has experiences that shape them, and I try to go into most situations remembering that now. I've realized that people are complicated and beautiful and we are all just trying to survive life.
Stepping out of our comfort zone is not fun, but it's necessary for growth. Maybe you do not want to travel to a new state or country, but do something to get out of your comfort zone, even if it is just saying hi to the person sitting next to you at the coffee shop. You never know, you might fall in love with them and learn an amazing story.
I think Anthony Bourdain said it best: