There’s something ironic about courage: it often comes when we’re furthest from home.
I am never so outgoing, bold, and adventurous as when I am hundreds or thousands of miles away from the familiar world of my day to day life. One of my earliest discoveries of this came for me when I split off from my family on a European trip and explored Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii with another tour group.
I was a pretty timid teenager. But I realized on that little day trip (which had essentially zero risk) what it felt like to be anonymous on another continent. No one knew me. I could be whatever and whoever I wanted to be. I could do what I wanted to do. These realizations were burdens off my back, but they also let me experience adventure in a way I hadn’t before in my life.
This was a guided tour, mind you. I’ve had more and better adventures since then. But the main discovery – that leaving my normal world tends to boost my appetite for risk – has shown through on so many trips since then, from my trip to Puerto Rico (where I surfed, ran in a rainforest, flirted, climbed onto an fort’s battlements, and talked to LOTS of strangers) to mountain hike/runs that take me through night-dark (and possibly bear-guested) trails.
The goal, of course, is to have courage closer to home. And as I’ve worked to develop boldness, it has gotten easier for me to step up and step out in closer circles. But even now I get that extra edge of risky boldness when I hit the airport or drive up to the Appalachians for a day.
If you haven’t found that feeling yet, you probably just haven’t gone far enough. If you’re timid, your problem might not be that you need the courage to travel. It may be that you need to travel to the courage.