I was scared. Tightening its vice-like grip on my decision-making ability, the fear of the unknown almost stopped me from taking an adventure of a lifetime. When it was all said and done, Andy and I drove 10,000 miles in 7 weeks through the outback of Australia in a car we bought for $500.
But it almost didn’t happen. Let me explain myself.
The year was 2002. I was 22 and 6 months removed from college where I just graduated with a degree in Economics. I worked 3 jobs after graduation saving up money to go on a surf trip with some college friends. It felt like the right thing to do before jumping into the real world. We chose Australia because it just felt right.
Well, that amazing 3-month trip came to an end and all my friends returned to the states. I wasn’t quite ready yet so I stayed behind. I found a little café in Bondi Beach, a picturesque little beach community just outside of bustling downtown Sydney, where I worked as a waiter and bartender.
I bonded quickly with my co-workers and was soaking in a huge range of different cultures. At one point, I counted 10 different countries represented on our staff. There were Canadians, English, Swiss, Germans, Polish, Israelis, French, Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans. I worked most afternoons and evenings and had the mornings free to surf and hangout. It was comfortable and predictable.
You Want In On A Road Trip?
It was a sunny, crisp fall day in Bondi Beach as the surfers marched out into ocean. Cafes were opening up along Campell Parade. Busses whizzed by full of Sydney commuters.
My Canadian roommate Andy popped in my room and asked if I wanted in?
Wanted in? Hmm. I was thinking dinner? Or maybe a morning surf session? Or maybe even a fun day trip somewhere?
Andy continues, “Do you want to go on a road trip? My friend wants to sell his car to me for $500. I figure we could explore the country and check out the outback?”
I had seen the pictures of the Australian outback, magnificent rock outcrops with beautiful sun burnt reds and oranges and kangaroos hopping along side the road. I had an idea of the remoteness knowing that 90% of Australia’s population lives within a 100 miles of the coast. This is a country with about the same landmass as the USA, but a with a population that is 1/10th of the USA. With most living along the coast, that left a vast, barren, sunburnt desert that filled the interior.
I was intrigued. I remember being fascinated looking at those pictures from space at night where you can see the concentration of lights lit up – there was this giant black hole in the middle of Australia. My imagination would run wild, what is out there? Who lives there? What is it like? I must go find out.
Fear Of The Unknown
Part of me was excited as hell. I love road trips. The idea of going on an adventure and exploring a new place got me all fired up.
But there was a bigger part of me that was scared. I was fearful of the unknown.
I had this comfortable little life going for me. I had a mellow job at a great café, I could walk to the beach from my apt, and I had tons of good friends. The idea of a road trip would disrupt all this structure and order, it would take me out of my comfort zone and that scared the shit out of me.
My mind started to race. My heart race increased. The voice inside my head started chattering all these thoughts – Where the hell were we going? How would we get there? Where would we stay? Where would we eat? Where would we sleep? How long would it take us? What do we do if something goes wrong?
The truth was I had no idea what the answers were to those questions. All that unknowing combined with tons of uncertainty scared me silly.
But there was still that stirring inside of me. There was an itching to see, to experience and to do. There was a certain curiosity that wouldn’t go away.
But the fear took over and responded with “Umm, I’m not sure. Where are we going?” I asked Andy. “I’m broke. I don’t have any money.”
There was part of me that wanted to go, but all that fear had me locked up in indecision. I told Andy I don’t have the money. What a load of shit I told myself. I didn’t have a ton of money, but I did have some savings.
Over the next few days, I reflected on this fear. I thought about what was really going on inside my head.
And that curiosity brewing up inside of me wouldn’t subside.
I wrote down a few worse case scenarios. They didn’t seem too bad. I also figured the chance of those worse case scenarios happening was pretty low.
I thought some more. I knocked on Andy’s door 3 days later and said “Let’s fuckin’ do this!”
I recently told this story to a friend and he immediately asked, how did you do it? What helped you push through the fear? That must have been a serious decision?
As I reflected on that internal dialogue, 2 salient points came to mind.
1) Careful Of The “Someday Syndrome” – The Perfect Time Never Exists
There is never going to be the perfect time to go on the journey of a lifetime. Life will most likely get in the way. You never know what will happen tomorrow or the next day. I felt like I had a predictable, comfortable life working at the café and living on the beach. But it really was an illusion. Nothing is for certain. Things will always happen.
You don’t want to look back 10 years from now and ask yourself – why didn’t I do it?
A journey can transform your life the way this cross continent trek changed mine. Don’t let the “someday” syndrome rear its ugly head and get in the way of being in action.
We experienced some of the most remote areas of Australia. We hiked up Ayers rock, a magnificent mile long trek in the middle of the desert.
We explored old copper mines, leaped off tons of waterfalls, saw bush fires, and hundreds of kangaroos hopping about the land. We passed football-length trucks on one-lane roads (see the video below), we slept in our car only to be waken by Emus and the most magnificent sunrises imaginable.
We saw prehistoric looking birds ravaging a kangaroo carcass on the side of the road, we dodged wombats, and luckily avoided some of the most deadly snakes in the world. We met Aboriginals, completely removed from civilization who live off the land, who shared some of the most profound wisdom about life.
It was an education that I could never have received on a Universality campus. It was exploration in its purest form. It was truly a journey of a lifetime that I will never forget. And if I waited for “someday” to magically appear, I probably would never have had this experience.
2) Preparation + Confidence = Reduced Risk
Preparation minimizes unknowns and uncertainties. And the confidence in your own skills makes those inevitable problem situations much less problematic. This combo should reduce most risk while embarking on any epic journey.
I’m not saying there aren’t inherent risks traveling into remote locations with nobody around for hundreds of miles. Of course there are. But there’s a spectrum, a range if you will. There is a difference between being reckless, acting without any common sense and just hoping or thinking it will all just work out. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about planning for worst-case scenarios, having some basic car knowledge to fix anything along the way, and bringing plenty of essential supplies.
I did my homework and charted out a course. We found hostels and campgrounds that would have supplies, food, and water if anything went wrong.
We would be entering remote areas, sometimes traveling over 100 miles without any sign of civilization.
A sign like this would greet us:
I had no idea on our final destination or when we would arrive. That was the fun part.
But knowing some key points along the way helped us feel more confident. This reduced uncertainty, quelled my fear a bit and allowed me to just go for it.
And Andy’s knowledge of cars certainly helped as well. It was only 2 days into our trip that our starter gave out. Andy grabbed a screwdriver, popped the hood and created a charge with the metal of the screwdriver that started up our car quickly. We had to replace a fuel line a few days later as well. Having the knowledge of these basic car skills instilled a confidence in us. We knew shit was going to happen. But we had the confidence that we could handle it.
We prepared to the best of our ability and we had the confidence that we had the skills to problem solve and overcome any obstacles in our way.
It was this combo that allowed both of us to say a resounding “Hell yes, let’s do this!”
Where Does Fear Stop You? What Are You Waiting For?
“Someday” syndrome will affect us all at some point. We are all human. There will never be a perfect time to do anything.
Life is way too dynamic for that to happen.
The key is to act anyway, with the presence of fear and uncertainty. Some would say that’s the definition of courage. I tend to agree.
Think about some of your health and fitness goals for this year. Are you waiting for “someday” to start that new exercise program? Are you waiting for Monday to start eating better? Are you too busy? Too stressed? Don’t have time?
Trust me, I’ve heard ‘em all.
But when you really think about it for a second, what’s hiding underneath that excuse? It well could be fear creeping in. It could be that fear of the unknown.
What if you become that healthy fit person?
What if you find yourself falling in love with exercise once you find something that excites you?
Maybe people will look at you differently? Maybe your spouse or partner will feel threatened? Maybe friends and family will treat you differently?
All I know is that if you let the fear of the unknown take hold of your mind, you’ll never find out. You’ll be scared, just like I was on that fall day 13 years ago.
The solution is simple. Act. Just like I did. Do something. It can be anything. Just commit to it and be in action. That led to one of my greatest trips of my lifetime.
But I want to hear about your big journey that you’re starting.
Comment below, I can’t wait to hear what you’re going after!
As always thanks for reading and have a awesome day.