I visited Paris and London for the first time last week. Have you noticed? Sorry, God, I literally could not be more obnoxious about it. But in my defense, it was my first time out of the country (aside from a trip to Cancun during college that can be summed up in a single word: Tequila.)
So yeah, I was totally excited.
That was until terrorists assaulted the city of Paris on a Friday, a week to the day prior to our departure, killing 130 and injuring more.
I was paralyzed with sadness. And so much fear. My excitement was gone.
“Should we even go?” I thought.
While sorting through some of the pictures at work from memorials around Paris, this picture touched me:
Throughout the grieving process, all the mourning and the pain – it seemed Parisians were adamant – they refused to give in. They refused to let a bunch of wayward thugs ruin them.
And it inspired me. To be unafraid. To go abroad and have the time of my life. And embrace every moment without fear or distraction.
I’m proud to tell you we did. And we never felt scared. Mostly because the people in London and Paris were kind and compassionate people. Friendly, funny – brilliant.
One of our cab drivers in Paris said the city is “knitted together” — in streets and in people. Paris was bustling, even in the cold and the rain. People under cafe awnings sharing food, laughing, walking together. It was as if nothing ever happened.
That week taught me so many different things and exposed me to another set of worlds. But the biggest thing it gave to me – was the assurance that it is so useless to be afraid.
Fear is the single most debilitating emotion of all. It stands in the way of better opportunities, it turns your life into something smaller than it should be.
My sister Jordan is seemingly fearless. She never settles. She knows what’s out there, and she knows she’s going to get it.
I’m a little more timid, as the older sister, I’m a little more cautious. Fiercely determined and ambitious career-wise, but sort of afraid to go outside the boundaries of what I’ve always known.
What a wasted life that would be, to have ambition with no adventure.
This year has been really painful in a lot of ways – mostly because of my own doing, simply being scared to do something about it. Scared to change my life.
But I’m done with that.
“I realized there was nothing to do but go, so I did” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild