Fear Is A Liar
I’ve arrived in Rome, and I am doing the thing I always do to avoid unwanted attention in an unknown city: “Fake it ‘til I make it.”
I get off the train, purchase a bus ticket, and find my way to the bus. I know my stop, but I keep an eye on my location via Google Maps on my phone and request a stop when we seem close enough. I figure it’s not the end of the world if I am a block or two off, as long as I act confident.
After departing the bus, I am incredibly pleased (and take it as a good sign) to discover I have ended up exactly where I needed to be. I take a minute to look around and smile as the realization washes over me that “I am in Rome. I am in Italy.”
At this point, it’s around 9 or 9:30 p.m. and it’s dark, but I have directions from my hostel and Google Maps open on my phone, so I should be perfectly okay for the 15-minute walk.
But the roads in Rome aren’t so much streets as they are dark graffiti covered alleys.
I consciously know that this is Italy, and all the roads are small, and graffiti is a way of life in Italy, specifically Rome. Still perception is key, and in this moment, mixed with exhaustion after 2 or 3 days of travel (I don’t even know, I lost count), I am starting to wonder if I should be nervous.
Should I be afraid?
After all, I don’t actually know where I am or where these alleys/roads lead. Even if they’re considered safe by my hostel, that doesn’t mean something bad couldn’t happen. Bad things happen in safe places all the time…
My mind is starting to spiral the way it always does when I am exhausted and feeling emotionally vulnerable.
I’ve completely lost the joy that filled me moments earlier, and that’s when I look up and see it….
Fear is a Liar.
And I am pretty sure I laugh out loud. Because right there in the graffiti is a message, for me, straight from the heavens.
Do not be afraid. Fear is a liar. It comes to steal your joy.
And then I hear my dad repeating his favorite piece of advice, “Don’t let anything steal your joy."
And I laugh again because I am in Italy! I am in Italy, and I am living my dream, and there is no place for fear in this dream.
I pause a moment longer to take a picture and then walk away leaving all fear behind me. Not once in the following days, while I am exploring Rome, does it return….