“But the key to that is, by looking at the difference between perceived danger and actual danger – where is the real risk? What is the real thing that you should be afraid of? Not just a generic fear of bad things happening. You can fundamentally change your reaction to things so that it allows you to go to places and see things that would otherwise be completely denied to you.
Where you can see the hardpan south of the Sahara. Or you can see New York city in a way that is almost dreamlike. Or the unconscious gingham of Eastern Europe fields. Or the great lakes as a collection of small puddles. You can see the fault lines of San Francisco and the way the water pours out under the bridge.
Just entirely different than any other way that you could have if you had not found a way to conquer your fear. You see a beauty that otherwise never would have happened.” – Chris Hadfield
In this TED talk, Chris Hadfield addresses the fear of going blind in space. But the essence of his talk is about being fearless in every aspect of your life. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
If I was afraid, I would have never studied abroad – not in Oklahoma, not in Cardiff. If I was afraid, I would have never dared to travel to Bolivia, knowing I was going to be on my own most of the time. Walking around street markets, adorned with colourful garments, the scent of leather wavering around, admiring clothing and drapes made of alpaca wool. Being a woman from Europe, wandering these markets on our own isn’t always safe. Especially when you’re not speaking Spanish properly like me. You are an easy target. Never show off that you are somewhat wealthy, try to mend in and be as confident as possible, showing that you’re familiar with the area and the situation. You think taxis are safe everywhere in the world? Wait until you’re sitting in a taxi in La Paz, being asked numerous questions trying to figure out whether you know your way around the city. You suddenly realise that the taxi driver is taking you a route that you’ve never seen before – your safety is in his hands. Should you jump out or stay, just hoping to get home safely?
This all sounds terrifying. It was to a great extent. But just as Chris Hadfield says, if I hadn’t taken these risks and if I had stayed at home, not daring to leave the house and the boundaries that comfort me, I would have never experienced or seen the beauty of South America, been a student in no man’s land Oklahoma or gotten a grip of living and working in the UK.
Taking risks is never easy and it’s often dangerous. I feel as long as you are fearless but careful, you’re safe. In the end, it’s about being brave and craving these experiences, just to be dazzled again by how much this world has to offer if you aren’t afraid.