The customs lady asked me two million more question than she did the couples before me. She sensed my annoyance and offered that she was “doing her job,” but the bewilderment in her brows and disbelief in her tone hinted at her personal bias against vacationing alone. My taxi driver inquired, rather dramatically, “How can you enjoy your own company [on vacation]?” In the quiet time I took to figure out if he was joking, he asked me again. I guess he wasn’t.
I had every intention of writing an article about conjuring the courage to travel alone—through repelling ignorance of others who don’t understand the value of solitude.
But that article will have to wait.
I returned from Aruba and learned about more unarmed Black men losing their lives to police brutality, more cops fallaciously threatened by their targets’ stature and color, more families wounded from heartache, more Black Lives Matter supporters outraged from irresponsibility, more sideliners turning a blind eye to equality, and ultimately, more (self) work to be done to create a better society.
And so, more than conjuring the courage to travel solo to Aruba, Indonesia or any other country, you, me, and every single person (especially those on the sideline) needs to muster the courage to go beyond our comfort zones.
Going Beyond Our Comfort Zones
If we had an aerial view of our comfort zones, we would see within their borders jobs we repetitively work, conditioned thoughts, habituated judgments, conversations with people who always affirm our points of view, lovers we repeatedly date, vacations we typically take, food we regularly eat, cities we’ve adapted to, neighborhoods we’re confined in, people we routinely hang around … you get the idea. Familiarity creates an effortless, safe space where risk-taking is not required and threats are non-existent. And if biology had its way, it’d prefer that we stay in our comfort zones. Forever. What’s the point of exerting seemingly unnecessary energy to step outside an area that offers contentment, cover and comprehension?
It’s a tempting argument, but it’s flawed because it doesn’t take into account that a comfort zone becomes a danger zone when we neglect its expansion. What’s in danger? Our potential as human beings to fully function in all our capabilities and progressively shape the world we live in. Leaving our comfort zones takes courage, and courage requires a worthwhile purpose. Predictably, that purpose is only discoverable from inside ourselves.
Going Inside Ourselves
Self-examination is necessary to move beyond comfort, but it’s never easy. In fact, it’s exhausting because encounters with our thoughts, guilt, prejudices, fear and memories requires total attention from our senses.
They require us to acknowledge, prod, question and reshape them. That takes work, but the payoff is awareness. Awareness brings clarity to who we are and want to become. Awareness, according to Eckhart Tolle, is the greatest agent for change.
Doing The Right Thing
Courage, united with awareness, helps us envision what is possible and do the right thing. And the right thing, specifically related to racial justice, is challenging ourselves to reach across racial lines to more broadly and specifically understand the plight of a community, engage in difficult conversations, offer compassion and share knowledge. When we do, we invite opportunities to transform rage into passion and indifference into involvement. We invite the world to evolve through us. That’s pretty big, but so are we.
So, before we preoccupy ourselves with finding the courage to travel solo across the world, let’s find the courage to travel solo beyond our comfort zones to change to world.