It’s been over a month since I quit my job, sold my car and most of my possessions, turned in my apartment key, hugged my friends, family and dog goodbye and boarded a one-way flight to Spain to begin this adventure of travel. And more times than I can count, I’ve been told that I’m brave. Brave for bucking the status quo, for traveling alone (and as a female!), for not knowing what I’m returning to or when or even if I’ll return to the United States. And every time someone calls me brave, I feel like a giant fraud.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered with bouts of shyness and plain ol’ awkwardness. My easily-embarrassed self turns red at the drop of a hat (and some people— not naming any names!!— took great pleasure in making sure that happened often).
But in the midst of my awkwardness is this wanderlust– this overwhelming need to travel and experience and adventure. I love the adrenaline rush that comes from the new and exciting and slightly dangerous. Some of my favorite escapades so far have included scuba diving with sharks and climbing the Inca Trail. And I can’t wait to skydive, zorb, climb a volcano, and go canyoning.
As I journey around the world in search of adventure and the best ice cream, I also hope to find a new sense of confidence and loosen up a little. And so at the suggestion of a friend, the Be Brave Challenge was born. I’ve asked some trusted friends to create a list of ‘things I would NEVER do’ that I can check off as I travel.
1.Buy coffee for a stranger.
Dance the night away. (If you’ve never been to a Crap Music Rave Party, I highly recommend it.)
3.Eat a raw tomato in every country. (Liz… I thought we were friends!!) This one may seem weird to put on a bravery list, but for those who don’t know, I do not eat raw tomatoes. The taste, texture, seeds, everything about them grosses me out.
4.Ride a Vespa in Italy.
6. Ask male strangers instead of female ones to take your photo for you. Do this for a whole week every month. Do I get bonus points if I’m not bright red in all of my photos?!
7. When out by yourself for meals, sit at the bar wherever possible in order to have conversations with the bartender and other restaurant-goers who are also eating alone. Ask them about themselves, get to know them, ask them about the most important person in their life, what they love to do, where they would go if they could…
8. Learn to play devil’s advocate to help with arguments and debates. Take the opposing side of a conversation even if it’s not your direct views, but simply to be able to discuss them.
9. Wash your clothes and let them dry outside (yes, even the panties). This is another one of those things that sounds like a little thing that I’ve been majorly stressed about. It’s been over a month and I still haven’t dried them outside!
10. Do one thing you hate every week: eating tomatoes (Rachel… I also thought we were friends!), working out, trying a unique food, walking behind someone slow instead of rushing– anything, just to say you did it anyway.
11. Share your faith with people as you travel.
Sing karaoke in Thailand. (Crossed this one off at a backpacker bar in Rainbow Beach) In high school, I was a total choir-geek. I sang solos at the old Texas Stadium and at EuroDisney, but I am terrified of singing karaoke. Maybe that’s the ‘always-prepared planner’ in me?
13. Go fountain hopping. My first question on this one was ‘What if that’s illegal?! Will I get in trouble?’… and so on the list it went!
14. Take a day-trip somewhere and don’t plan anything. That means no Googling, no crowd-sourcing on Twitter or Facebook, no checking restaurant reviews, no asking for suggestions from people who have been there or fellow travelers. Enjoy discovering a city by what catches your eye when you’re there.
15. Go out in public without makeup at least once a month.
As I cross things off the list, I’ll be updating you here and on Instagram with the hashtag #BeBraveChallenge.
I’d love to ask two things from you: 1. Is anything missing on this list? 2. If you joined the Be Brave Challenge, what kinds of things would go on your list? Share in the comments!