Writer and professor John Augustus Shedd wrote, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
To travel well and regularly, to be a traveler and not just a tourist, you must accept that you must leave the safety of the port and seek out adventures wherever they can be found. French author André Gide perhaps expressed this sentiment first when he wrote, "You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." Confronting fear builds character and helps one recognize his or her own strength.
I first crossed the ocean when I was 16 years old. Before leaving the country, I met my new volleyball teammates at a three-day camp in Lawton, Oklahoma. One of the team-building exercises was a rope course some fifty feet in the air. I faced fears I had previously been unaware I had. The final test was to attach a rope to my harness, climb a wooden pole, pull myself up so that I was standing on top of it, and jump, hoping that the man on the ground holding onto the rope would not drop me. I stood on top of that pole for what seemed like an eternity, listening to my heart pounding in my ears like a drum, sweating, trying desperately to control my breathing. And then I jumped. I fell fast and jerked to a stop inches from the ground, safe and sound.
Fear often holds us back. It causes us to miss opportunities to meet new people, to taste new foods, to visit new places, and to learn about other cultures.
Don't forget what ships are built for. Don't be afraid to lose sight of the shore. Don't fear people and cultures that are different from yours. Explore. Be adventurous. Conquer your fear and see how wondrous the world and its people are!
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