In a little over one month I will be boarding a plane for a year-long adventure in China where I will be teaching a writing and speech course to high school students. After making an announcement over Facebook (because, let’s be real, nothing is official until it’s Facebook Official), I noticed a common reaction by people. From my grandma’s comment of, “My, aren’t you a brave little girl?” to getting asked every other day by well meaning people whether or not I am scared, I’ve come to realize that bravery is overrated when it comes to traveling overseas. Americans are filled with this irrational sense of fear of anything not American that just baffles me. No one reacted this way when I moved to Seattle to start school. No one told me I was brave for moving seven hundred miles away and starting life in an unknown city because it was still in America, and therefore, deemed “safe.” Well, unfortunately disaster can strike anywhere,
even especially America. I don’t understand how anyone who reads the news lately can honestly think we are safer in the US than any other part of the world. Need I recap how many public shootings have occurred in the US alone in the last 10 years?
Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m brave for moving overseas because it never occurred to me to be afraid. Yes, starting my post grad life in a job I have very limited training for and living in a new city is slightly nerve-wracking, but not in the way most people would think. I’m no more fearful of experiencing tragedy in a foreign country than I am here in my own country because you know what? Bad things can happen anywhere and bad people live everywhere. There is corruption and pain anywhere you go. However, there is also beauty and hope anywhere you go as well. Good, kind, and compassionate people are everywhere, you just have to learn to look past your bias and prejudice to see it. The real tragedy is allowing your fear to overcome your desire to experience the world and all its wonder. So, if you think you can’t travel the world because you don’t feel “brave enough”, then screw bravery. Do the brave thing anyway, regardless of whether or not bravery follows.