In the wake of recent terrorists attacks, many people were shocked that we were purposely traveling to Brussels, only one month after the bombings there.
People acted as though this choice was brave, stupid, or maybe a little of both. We heard time and again that it was dangerous, and that maybe we should reconsider our plans.
You guys. Let’s be real about this.
Brussels was not any more dangerous than any other European city we could have visited. In fact, in a sad way, it was possibly safer. The attacks had already happened. Awareness was heightened, security measures had skyrocketed, and police were everywhere.
Furthermore, statistics show that being the victim of a terrorist attack (whether you’re at your local shopping mall or traveling around Europe), is negligible. A risk of 1 in 9.3 million worldwide. Car accidents account for 500 times that many deaths per year. And yet, we don’t chastise people for getting on the highway every day, or try to convince people to give up their driver’s license. We don’t call them brave or stupid (at least not because they drive a car).
I’m not trying to minimize the sadness of the attacks. Nobody can deny that each life lost was heartbreaking, and tragic, and senseless. It was particularly harrowing to stand in front of the memorials in Brussels, to see the rows of candles and flowers commemorating the victims with my own eyes. It made me stop in my tracks, and suck in my breath, and feel sick to my stomach.
It also made me glad to have traveled to Brussels.
Fear is visceral. It’s not always logical and we can’t always control it. It’s okay to be afraid. And it’s okay to acknowledge our fear. Of terrorists, of snakes, or of the dark. Of speaking in front of a large crowd, of heights, or maybe even of driving.
What’s not okay is to let that fear control you. To let it override the logical part of your brain and paralyze you. Acknowledge your fear, but be discerning. Really analyze it. Sometimes we’re afraid of things for good reason, and sometimes we’re not.
Don’t confuse your fear with risk. And don’t let it stop you from living your life.
As for me, I’ll keep traveling.