It’s a Thursday afternoon. My father drives me home from therapy, which is usually the highlight of my week. The weather is dreary and raindrops have just begun collecting on the windshield of our Kia as we pull into the busy 7-Eleven parking lot.
While he’s in the store, I try to edit a few photos on my iPhone, only to find myself sifting through the notes app instead. Moments later, I am distracted by the sound of another car pulling in to an adjacent parking space, and when I catch a glimpse of it (a rusty, retro VW bus), I am whisked away and lost in a reverie of a life bristled with freedom, adventure, and travel.
As my father exits the store, I swiftly snap a couple of photos. When he gets into the car, raindrops bead around his face as I point out the VW van and excitedly begin to express my admiration: “That van is awesome. I’m going to live in a one someday—it’s very cool.”
He gives me this look, as though I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Tilting his head to that beautiful, classic VW, he says “You must be an old soul—you don’t want a van like that. You don’t want to live in a van.. Shaking his head as if to say, “Nonsense! Silly girl,” he laughs to himself and puts the car in reverse.
As we drive away, I object to being an old soul and attempt to make a very valid point: living in a van or bus is actually quite trendy these days, but instead of listening to me, he throws around words like “hippie” and “weird” and “strange.” I sit in the car with my father on a beautiful rainy day and listen to him go on and on and on about how “vehicles break down” and “old vehicles are a lot of work” and about the “Danger, Danger, Danger” of traveling to places where no one knows your name.
When I said I wanted to live in a van, I didn’t mean that I wanted a vehicle to be my forever home. I indulge in just as many #vanlife and #buslife vlogs as anyone else who finds themselves scrolling through YouTube late at night, and I’m certainly intrigued. But I don’t even know if I would thrive living in a small space for an extended amount of time. I’m not sure if I could ever be a full-time minimalist, but at some point, for some time in my life, I’d like to try simple living.
Someday, I will pack all my favorite books, fill a tiny house with cozy blankets and a bed, grab my camera, pack a small suitcase, map out all the greatest coffee shops in America, and just go. I want to know what it’s like to live with minimal attachments and travel on wheels. It’s alright if my father, my siblings, or my family friends can’t understand that.
I’m learning more and more every day that I am not responsible for anyone else’s fears about my great adventure, just my own. If I want to do something, I’ll gather information, do the research, prepare, be smart about it, and I’ll do it. The only fear I am responsible for when it comes to following my dreams is my own.
Life is too short to skip out on positive personal experiences because of someone else’s fears. If those fears don’t belong to you, give them back to the person they do belong to. Fear and impossibility live in the same cage, and sometimes that cage grows bigger. I believe that unhealthy growth is not only rooted in our own perceptions and beliefs of self but also sometimes in the unsettling fears and worries of our loved ones.
Know that you are brave enough and you do have the courage to go after your great adventure. You have every right to pursue everything you’ve ever dreamed about without carrying around the weight of other people’s fear or disapproval. When we take ownership of other people’s fears, we honestly cease to see beyond the boundaries of our everyday living space.
To some people this is fine, but maybe you want to see the world and you’re in need of a trusted companion and your best friend is fine with never seeing the Trevi Fountain or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Maybe you’re in a relationship with someone who isn’t supportive of your dreams of becoming a solo traveler. Or maybe your like me and your parents are worried sick every time you walk out the front door.
Whatever it is, I want to you know that in spite of that, you deserve all the experiences. You deserve all the adventure and love and encouragement, peace, and kindness this world has to offer. It’s important that you hold on to that truth in the face of anyone who tries to discourage your willingness to try new things.