How I Conquered My Fears and Became a World Traveler

July 24, 2015
How I Conquered My Fears and Became a World Traveler

I live to travel — to go out and leave my environment and to become a part of another.

I was three months old when I took my first flight with my family from Rome to Sicily to visit family and friends. Even at that age, for a short period of travel, I guess it marked my life because from that moment on, I couldn’t stop traveling!

But in my early years, I was a shy, insecure girl with many fears. I experienced life from the outside-in, observing others and living through their experiences. My parents gave me everything in their power to give me a perfect world. The problem is that it wasn’t.

My parents loved us very much and took my brother and me all over Italy. Be it winter or summer, my dad loved to drive. We had a white Citroen DS with a large back seat that transformed into comfortable beds for my brother and me on our long trips to discover new towns and new lands.

He painted a surreal vision of the unknown world in order to discourage me.

Unfortunately my parents never took me out of Italy. In addition to giving us lots of love, my parents passed along their fears to me. As I grew up, I wanted to see what was out there, but I was still a very shy girl, with lots insecurities and fears. My desire to travel was strong, but the unknown was scary.

In 1996, I was dating a guy I met on a movie set where I was working as an extra. We became very close and my parents immediately loved and trusted him. I thought he would be the perfect person to travel with because he was such a confident man. Finally, I saw a light at the end of my tunnel! Coming from a patriarchal family with traditional values taught me that the man takes charge and provides protection and stability. So that was it…or so I thought.

How I Conquered My Fears and Became a World Traveler

In 1997, a good friend got an internship in London and shortly began calling me weekly, telling me all these stories about clubs and what it was like to live in a multiracial population. I was so tempted by her invitations, but didn’t realize that the idea of going to a foreign place was scary for my boyfriend!

In addition to worrying about not knowing the language, he spun tales of bad people and dangerous places. He painted a surreal vision of the unknown world in order to discourage me. (While never mentioning the fact that he was scared!) Well, he didn’t stop me. A plan began to take shape in my head. I played my cards right, and started by convincing my parents first and then having them talk him into the idea, ensuring him that I would be safe. Of course he couldn’t tell them that I was going to be the one protecting him!

How I Conquered My Fears and Became a World Traveler.

We finally landed in London. I remember walking in the airport and reading these red signs: ‘luggage pick up,’ ‘exit,’ ‘public transportation,’ etc. Suddenly I realized that my fears were gone! They were all in my head! My biggest fear had been the airport, but there were no monsters who kidnapped me. He finally let down some of his defenses and the vacation was awesome.

I still remember eating bacon and eggs in the morning–so different from my typical breakfast of cappuccino with cookies. I remember going to an underground, speakeasy-style bar where the entrance was at the rear of the building. We used a secret word to gain entrance, which opened into a three level house where each floor had a room with music. I took it all in, and the experience was electrifying. My boyfriend, however, was freaking out, but my friend and I finally got him to chill.

From that moment on, I felt in control of my world. After returning from that vacation my life started running on different speeds. I broke up with my boyfriend, and I began to travel throughout Europe on my own. Suddenly the shy girl became sociable. I met people who always invited me to visit them wherever they were. Months later, I was working on a movie and became friends with another girl on staff, and it wasn’t long before she proposed the idea of travelling to NYC during the summer of 1999.

The people we meet always have a message to share and if we are open, a new world will open up for us.

Having specific expectations placed on me at such a young age fueled a deep urge inside of me to break out and see what life would feel like outside of my world. From my core to my senses, everything told me to follow this instinct. Now I realize that it fuels my creativity and my passion for life. This period was the beginning of my self-exploration.

Travel no longer equals escape. It reassures me. It helps me grow. As an accomplished world traveler, I continue to learn from my experiences. The people we meet always have a message to share and if we are open, a new world will open up for us. I will always have fears. But I have learned not to allow them to hold me back from changing and expanding my world through travel.

About Francesca Defranchis

Working at the crossroads of travel, culture and humanitarianism, Francesca Defranchis has carved out her own unique niche in the business world by combining her personal passions with business. As an Italian-born entrepreneur currently based in New York City, she engages in many personal pursuits, whether it be humanitarian, animal rights activism, the arts, food politics, or a combination of any of these, and she is always seeking new experiences with new people — in an effort to make the world a better place.

5 thoughts on “How I Conquered My Fears and Became a World Traveler

  1. Lia
    October 19, 2020

    Love this!

  2. DubDub
    August 6, 2015

    I love this article! I relate to it on so many levels, especially in terms of the dance I’ve done in my adult years of being my own person and breaking free from a conservative and fear-based background. Congrats on embracing your fears and opening your mind and heart to travel!

    • Francesca Defranchis
      August 7, 2015

      Thank you for this beautiful feedbacks.
      Yes DubDub if I think of my past days I remember all the struggle, set me my mind free was hard but now it feels great!!!!

  3. Adriana
    August 5, 2015

    …..very good writing Francesca!!!! I remember you the very first period you come in NY, August 1999…and I saw a very young girl become a beautiful woman whit a lots of passion…brava!!!! Go girl!!!!

    • Francesca Defranchis
      August 7, 2015

      Yes my dear Adri, i came into this big new world with such a pure spirit.
      I was a little girl in an adult body.
      Now i feel difference, life offered me goods and bad and it still will but its great to see me then and now.
      Love you Adri!

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