"The World Is Our Oyster" - Rachel
"There's a tremendous difference between being alive and truly living," said Rachel in Part One of her interview yesterday. She finds that adventure is one of the key ingredients to her happiness and growth. But life on the road isn't always easy, especially for a young woman traveling alone. I was curious: how does Rachel cope with fear, in the midst of the unfamiliar?
"Our cultural conditioning has led us to be afraid to travel, to grab life by the balls, to follow our grandest dreams..."
Men far outnumber women when it comes to solo travelers. Why do you think there are fewer women striking out alone?
We live in a patriarchal phase in time where, in general, women don’t feel that they have the same liberties or capabilities as men. Our cultural conditioning has led us to believe that we should be afraid to truly live - to travel, to grab life by the balls, to follow our grandest dreams on account of our learned inhibitions.
However, there is a beautiful and necessary shift happening, and more people, both men and women, are realizing that the world is our oyster and the point of this blessing we call life is to truly live.
When has someone else has expressed fear for your safety?
It’s much less often now, but when my family (especially my grandmothers) first learned that I would be backpacking alone all over the world, I think it almost gave them a heart attack. They begged me not to go, warning me of all of the “awful things” that happen in foreign countries. Granted, less than ideal things do happen, but they happen everywhere in our world.
"They begged me not to go, warning me of all of the “awful things” that happen in foreign countries."
How did you respond to that person?
I responded with empathy and understanding. I could tell that, deep in their hearts, they only wanted what was best for me, and that their fear was a result of the lens through which they view life.
How does the fear or support of others affect you?
The fear or support of others affects me in the sense of understanding more about where we are as a collective consciousness. Very rarely does it influence my decisions. If the input of others is based on love versus fear, it is far more likely to infiltrate my decision-making process. It does feel nice to have the blessing and support of others, especially my family, but there are times when the heart and intuition know past the understanding of others.
"There are times when the heart and intuition know past the understanding of others."
What's one of your favorite travel memories?
There are so many! I truly love the times when I have felt completely invisible, with no one in the whole world knowing where I was, looking up into the sky full of stars, wondering how my life can feel so significant to me in such an infinite sea. From spear-fishing with sharks to swinging from vines in the jungle to watching lava flow into the ocean and watching the full moon solar eclipse set into the sea, I am grateful for both the grand memories and all of the small moments in between.
Have you ever been sexually harassed while on the road?
Yes. Unfortunately, it seems as if most women have experienced this in their lifetime, whether they travel or not.
If so, did you feel like the act of traveling made you more vulnerable to this harassment?
No, I don’t feel like traveling made me more vulnerable because I have experienced this both while traveling and not. There are different degrees of sexual harassment but it has seemed that the specific environment made a larger difference than whether or not I was traveling. For example, I have experienced sexual harassment mostly in environments such as concerts and bars, in all places from my hometown to different countries.
What advice would you offer to a woman who wants to travel more, but is afraid to do so?
Before I act, I try to ask myself a few questions. Among them is whether I am acting from a place of love or fear. Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” I would encourage that she asks herself where this fear stems from, and whether or not she would look back from the final stages of life and wish that she had given herself permission to tap into her inner goddess and live boldly.
What activity, besides traveling, helps you be a better traveler?
Yoga helps me become better at everything in life, including traveling. It’s an amazing, life-transforming practice and philosophy to take from the mat and into everyday life.
"Before I act, I try to ask myself a few questions. Among them is whether I am acting from a place of love or fear.
Anything else you want to share with your fellow humans, about anything?
You are an amazing, beautiful being - a bundle of fibers encasing a burning, bright fire of love. May we make loving and living synonyms, first extending this grace to ourselves. Connect to and nourish the magical creature inside of you; that part of you that is synced to source, infinite creativity, and unwavering joy and gratitude.
You can Follow Rachel on Social Media!
Rachel's surf-SUP-yoga tour company: Monkey Adventures
Resources for travel: workaway.com and WWOOF.com