• Lila Ench

Traveling Beyond Comfort

“I have realized; it is during the times I am far outside my element that I experience myself the most. That I see and feel who I really am, the most!” - C. JoyBell C.

Setting off on a travel adventure can be scary. In order to fully experience a previously unknown place, you sometimes have to activate previously unknown parts of yourself. Each day, we make choices that either keep us confined to our known patterns or help us expand out of them with a sense of curiosity and openness. One of the reasons why travel excites me personally is that it often provides an opening to push myself further than I would normally go. Sometimes the trips we take can give us the confidence to face fears that we never thought we would be able to handle. I have found that those moments are what end up defining my trips. Looking back and saying ‘I can’t believe I did that!’ and realizing that your potential is greater than you ever thought possible is a life changing feeling.

In many ways, traveling itself can be seen as an act of bravery. There is a real vulnerability in going somewhere with potential language barriers and culture shock. There can be a fear in getting intimate with the unknowns and slight discomfort of being in a new place. Yet, all of these things provide the building blocks for a remarkable journey. Once you decide to take that trip and to switch up your daily routine with something different - you are already one step closer to embracing change. Sometimes going that extra mile and saying ‘You know what? I’m going to do the thing that scares me today’ is what turns a memory into a landmark - it is what can give you the eyes to see the person you are meant to be.

I have found that what helps me push past my comfort zone while traveling is embracing presence. Whether it is a week or month long trip, travel almost forces you to remain in the moment. Even if you have a tour guide and everything has been planned out, it is hard to shut off when you realize that what you are experiencing can never be duplicated in the exact same way. If you step into your trips with that understanding, there is a level of fearlessness that can be achieved. This isn’t to say to make yourself plan something that you were never inclined to do but to question your ‘no’ when presented with a new opportunity. Maybe saying ‘yes’ will open your heart, your mind, and your own limiting beliefs about what you are capable of.

Four years ago I was instructing a man who was terrified of the water on how to swim. In Hawaii, the water is like a second home. He planned a trip there and wanted more than anything to be able to step into the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean but he didn’t feel confident in his abilities to keep himself afloat. He didn’t want his fear to stop him from doing something that he always dreamt of. This was a part of his life’s dream. By the end of our time together, he was able to step into the water and float atop the gentle waves. This is something that he was unable do to before. He relayed to me that doing that is something he would never forget. Facing a fear doesn’t always have to be a huge success - but allowing yourself to try is a success in itself. Even something others may consider trivial can be exhilarating when it’s something you never thought you would do. These things are what remind me of the beauty in travel.

What if the most incredible scenic view that you will see in your entire life is atop a mountain that you don’t want to climb? What if a friend is waiting to be found in the waters at the bottom of the cliff you are scared to jump off? What if the day you decide to skydive you meet the love or your life, or it becomes the day your perspective changes because you realize how expansive our world really is? What if the best memories of your life are on the other side of fear?

It seems that our greatest dreams and our greatest fears live in communion with each other. Achieving personal success does not come without battle scars. Living with discomfort and facing fears while traveling or otherwise can be painful. It can stretch us past the confines of what we have been taught to believe about ourselves and others. While you can spend your life feeling ashamed of the things you have not done, it is more productive to think about what you can still do. When you slowly crack open your fears in order to let some light in, then you start to step into that discomfort with a warrior’s heart. Although this is something I haven’t achieved in the slightest, I am more inspired to try when I consider the preciousness of this life. I can only hope that whoever is reading this is inspired to try as well.

With love and courage.

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