If It Scares You, Go Do It
About the episode
In this episode, I tell a true story about doing something that scared me. I was solo travelling from Romania to Bulgaria and found myself in a situation where the only option I had was to do something I was afraid of.
This is a story that might remind you of a time you did something you were scared of, but it could also be a story that will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and take more risks in your life. Comfort is very addictive and doesn’t help you grow. Doing something that scares you is one way to step out of it and discover your true potential.
The story was inspired by a selfie (photo below) I took as I was doing this scary thing.
- In the story, I mention a book by Derek Sivers, one of my favourite writers. It’s called ‘Hell Yeah or No’ and you can find it on his website.
- This is the page I was reading in the story.
It’s 11 am and I’m standing in the middle of a bus station in a Romanian city called Constanta. I’ve just realized that I missed the only bus to Varna, my destination in Bulgaria, and I’m pissed off because this isn’t all my fault.
Laurentius, my Romanian host, promised to give me all the travel information, but he disappeared without even bothering to reply to my texts.
I’ve got nothing but insults for him. They’re all in my head but some of them make their way to my vocal cords. It’s even more frustrating that he can’t hear them because I’m using a degree of creativity to craft the worst possible insults ever.
Upset, disappointed and a little lost, I go to the Constanta train station, where I buy a ticket to Mangalia, a Romanian town close to the Bulgarian border.
From there, I’ll only have one option to get to Varna by the end of the day. An option that scares me and excites me at the same time: hitchhiking.
I’ve always thought highly of hitchhikers, especially those who travel the world in this way. They’re brave and fearless. They put their problems into strangers’ hands and rely entirely on them.
They ask for help, take risks, dive into the unknown. Is there anything more courageous than this? Hitchhikers and drivers who pick them up truly make the world a better place. They’re living proof that the human race still has some hope.
But I’m not like them.
I’ve watched too many horror movies and the idea of being cut up into pieces and buried under a barn doesn’t help at all. Worst of all, I watch the news.
I get on the train and start thinking of a plan B to avoid standing on the side of the road waiting for a murderer to pick me up. I think I can spend the night in Mangalia and tomorrow morning take that bus that I missed today. End of problems.
Deep in my heart I already know this is the safest, yet most cowardly of the solutions.
The train is about to pull in to Mangalia station and I still have a couple of minutes to finish the book I’ve been reading for the past few days. I’m on the very last page and almost can’t believe what I read:
“Whatever scares you, go do it. Fear is just a form of excitement, and you should do what excites you. Best of all, once you do something that scared you, you’re not scared of it anymore! As you go through life, doing everything that scares you, you fear less and less in the world.”
This is a sign. This is THE sign. There’s no plan B today, Fabio. I get off the train and walk on the main road towards the end of the city, where cars are heading south.
I stop, drop my backpack, put on my best smile, and stick my thumb out.
The first three drivers don’t even look at me but, honestly, I don’t mind as I think I’ve just avoided being killed three times. Then another car passes, and another, and another. No one stops.
I feel like I’m invisible. I feel like I’m not in danger. I AM the danger, like Heisenberg said.
Finally a guy pulls over.
“Where are you going?”
“Oh, too far. I can only take you to the Bulgarian border.”
“Yeah, that’s OK!”
I jump into his car. I look around if there are any butcher tools and I’m relieved I can’t see any.
It’s a short drive but long enough to talk about Italy, Romania, tourists, traveling, hotels, family, work and money. It’s a pleasant conversation.
Dani, the driver, drops me off at the border. As soon as I get out of his car I feel like Hercules: strong, powerful, invincible. It’s exactly how Derek Sivers, the author of the book I was reading on the train, described it on his last page.
‘…once you do something that scared you, you’re not scared of it anymore!’
It’s true and I now can’t wait to hitchhike again. I’m like a child who was scared of going on a rollercoaster and then, after the first ride, wants to go up again and again all day.
That day I hitchhiked my way to Varna and this is my journey in numbers:
- 4 hours spent on the road
- 120 kilometres covered
- I met 5 different drivers
- 1 tomato was given to me as a present
- 0 euro spent
- 1 photo taken (the one you see of me sitting in the mini-bus of a Bulgarian man, who drove me for about 10 kilometers. I even had air-conditioning!)
- 0 serial-killers met
But this is the least special part of my experience. What’s more valuable is the questions that arose in my mind in the evening that day: What else am I scared of? What other Plan Bs am I following without knowing? What other fears can I overcome by following the ‘go do it’ principle?
And how can I apologise to Laurentius for all the insults I threw at him? After all, this wouldn’t have happened if he had given me information about busses and times.
Time to think about those questions. Time for some deep reflection.