Why You Can’t Live in Fear
Misconceptions and stereotypes surround us everywhere we go. Whether it’s in our everyday life, or when we are planning a trip abroad, people aren’t afraid to jump in with their opinions and perceptions on a specific topic or country.
This year almost everywhere I traveled received some sort of reaction from those around me. I traveled to the Dominican Republic where people thought I would get the Zika virus. I went to Jordan, which borders Syria, so people assume it’s unsafe. And I went to the Philippines, which due to political unrest, people thought must be a bad place to travel to.
As someone who travels frequently, I’m used to people giving me weird looks when I tell them where I’m headed next. I’m used to the question “Why there?” when I talk about my trip plans and bucket list destinations. People are so blindsided by what the news focuses on that they forget that the news is going to exclude the good things about these places. The news doesn’t report how beautiful the Dominican Republic is, or how friendly and welcoming Filipinos are. Instead, they’ll focus on the bad and ugly because that’s what makes a news story.
I know that the news doesn’t portray everything a country is, but some people don’t realise this. Instead, they let the news reporter paint this false impression that countries are too dangerous to travel to. Yet what if this was turned around on us? People may watch the news and see that Donald Trump is the new president of the United States, or that there was a bomb found in a New York City dumpster and think that they could never, ever go to North America because it’s unsafe. Crazy to think about, right? So why do we jump to conclusions when it comes to other countries?
The news doesn’t report how beautiful the Dominican Republic is, or how friendly and welcoming Filipinos are. Instead, they’ll focus on the bad and ugly because that’s what makes a news story.
If there is one thing I’ve learned while traveling, it’s that you have to travel with an open mind. Earlier this year, when I headed to Jordan, was I bit scared? Yes. But that wasn’t because I thought Jordan was as unsafe as its neighbour, Syria. It was because it was a new place I had never been to before, and I was going alone. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised that the country was one of the safest and most secure I had ever been to. The sad part was how evident it was that the country was suffering from the lack of tourism. Many people wouldn’t even dream about going to Jordan anymore, all because of the bad reputation of their neighbour, an entirely different country.
The thing is, if you judge another person or country before you get to know them, and if you stay in the comfort of the four walls of your home because you have a fear of the unknown or a fear of something different, what kind of life is that to live? Traveling, whether it’s to a place that some people would see as dangerous or whether it’s just to a nearby state or province can be risky, but so can driving your car everyday or walking down the street. Everything we do in life comes with a risk of some sort, and if we lived life trying to avoid these risks we would be failing to do one thing—actually living life.
So next time you want to travel to a destination, don’t let your loved ones or acquaintances fill your head with perceptions and ideas about places they’ve never even been. Educate yourself by conducting proper, fact checked research rather than only reading one headline and letting that form an unbiased opinion. Because how good does it feel to prove everyone wrong?