Someone once told me that worry is creativity pointed in the wrong direction.
What a relief to know that there’s an up-side to this paralyzing behavior! “I’m not an anxious hypochondriac, I’m just creative!”
Everything a person could worry about on a trip like this, I’ve worried about it. My worries march right up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Level 1: Physiological
- Shelter: Where will I stay? How do I decide which hostel is right for me? Will there be bedbugs? Is it affordable?
- Sleep: Will I able to fall asleep and stay asleep? Will there be snorers? Will I have any space to myself? Will I be able to get up and down from the top bunk?
- Water: How much water should I carry? Where do I refill while I’m walking?
- Food: What will I eat? Will it be all meat? Will the food give me indigestion? Will the restaurants be open so I can have a dinner before the hostel locks up? Will I have to eat squid? Will I be able to find nuts and chocolate? Should I bring a bunch of snacks with me? Will I get so hungry I can’t think straight?
- Excretion: Will I be able to find the bathroom in the middle of the night in the dark in the hostel without waking everyone up? Will there be places to use the bathroom while I’m walking? Do towns welcome pilgrims in using their facilities? Will I have to go poo near the trail? What will I do if someone comes along while my pants are down? Should I carry a plastic shovel for burying waste?
Level 2: Safety
- Body: Is my body ready for this much walking? What will I do if I get injured? What will I do if I get lost? What if I encounter vicious dogs? What will I do if I get bitten by bedbugs? Will the pharmacies have the medicines I’m used to if I need them? Will my clothes keep me warm? Will I get hypothermic if my clothes get wet?
- Resources: Can I afford this? What if my stuff gets stolen? What will I do if my money is stolen?
- Family: How will I get in touch with my family in an emergency? How will they get in touch with me?
- Morality: What if there are not-nice people?
Level 3: Love/belonging
- Friendship: Will I feel lonely? Will I have anyone to talk to? Will the people I meet speak the same languages I do? Will they tolerate my remedial French and Spanish? What if no one I meet likes me? What if I don’t like the people I meet? What if someone I don’t like insists on walking with me?
- Family: Will I get homesick? How will I keep in touch with them?
Level 4: Esteem
- Self-esteem: What if I worry myself to death and have a miserable time? What if my self-criticism takes over?
- Respect: What if I don’t like or trust anyone I meet? What if someone is disrespectful of me?
- Achievement: Can I really do this? What happens if I get over there and chicken out? What if I get hurt and have to give up in the middle?
Level 5: Self-actualization
- Spontaneity: What if I get all driven and don’t enjoy the journey? How can I minimize how controlled I am by my more basic fears? How can I halt my pattern of doing what others want?
- Problem-solving: What if I get so freaked out that I can’t figure things out?
This is unfortunately not a conclusive list of my fears, but it’s close. And here’s the kicker: I’m doing this walk anyway. I’m not paralyzed by the fear because it’s a companion I’m used to traveling with anyway.
I should note that I have a lot of solutions to the list above, so there’s no need to reassure me in your comments. Fear comes up. And then it passes. I’m okay with that.
Still, if I could get a little less creative with my worst case scenarios, I’d be a happy camper!