I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my next big adventure will be.

There are a few exciting possibilities on my list, but, just between you and me, I’m a little bit worried about embarking on another adventure. And when I say ‘a little bit worried,’ I actually mean: I’m absolutely freakin’ freaked out.

While my intrepid side enjoys gazing into distant horizons, dreaming of escaping somewhere new, sampling exotic foods, and discovering stunning new locations, my anxious side (which happens to be a very big side, by the way) is squirting obscene amounts of adrenalin into my system. I’m scared of … well … everything.

I blame my parents.

When they conceived me, they were neglectful. They  gave no consideration to the size of my amygdala: an almond-shaped nuclei in the medial temporal lobes of my brain. Responsible for processing emotional responses such as fear and anxiety, my amygdala — so says the doctor — may be oversized. Apparently, it’s common in creative types, and while I’m not creative enough to cut off my own ear, I do have creative tendencies.

So, yeah — thanks a lot, Mum and Dad. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.

Now that you can forgive me for being totally neurotic (it’s not me, it’s my amygdala!) here’s a list of the fears that keep me awake at night when it comes to planing another adventure.

Death by dangerous creatures.

Adventure involves a lot of time in the outdoors, at one with nature and the creatures of the earth. In my fantasy, I’m a woman of the wild, with long hair, sun-kissed skin, sculpted muscles, and clothes fashioned from buckskin. Wild horses with manes of silk gather before me when I whistle.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

When I go bush, I’m almost always covered head-to-toe in weeping insect bites. Spiders get in my clothes, and birds swoop overhead, squawking in a way that can only mean: Move away now, bitch, or I’ll peck out your pretty little eyeballs! Snakes coil themselves inside my warm shoes and inject deadly venom into my toes …

… Okay, that last one never really happened but it can happen, and it has happened in my imagination. Many times! And that’s possibly worse than the real thing.

Death by murders, rapists and sickos with sickles.


I live in Melbourne city — a pretty safe place by world standards — and, yet, I often wake up in the night after hearing a loud bang or a strange noise. What was that? Someone breaking into my house? Someone with an axe?!!

I recently had my landlord install window bars on the house and, not long ago, I called the police on a man loitering outside of my front door, convinced he was a thief. (Turns out the neighbor’s friend had the wrong house number.)

So traveling through remote places, such as Psychoville (Population: 1) makes my melon-sized amygdala throb.

Death by dehydration.

I like water. I really do. When I venture away from a tap, I always carry too much water. This can be a big problem when I’m overnight hiking and my knees are responsible for carrying the burden of my excessive fear, especially since I also need to carry the wine. (Hey, don’t be judgmental, it’s nice to have a reward after a long hike!)

But on an extended adventure, carrying all the water I need on my back is not possible. Nor is carrying all the required wine. So it’s a dilemma.

Death by carbohydrates.


I love salad. I adore gourmet food. I *heart* city restaurants. But adventure always involves remote locations and living off long-life food. Noodles, pasta and canned anything is, for the large intestine, the equivalent of packing terracotta clay down your kitchen sink. Fruit and vegetables are nature’s Drano and bad things happen when you eat too many carbs. I’ve been there, it’s not pretty.

Death by bad fashion.

Let’s face it — adventure looks better on men than on women. Zip off pants, greasy hair, gritty faces, sweaty pits, stinky cracks. Okay, so it doesn’t look that good on men either.

I’ve Googled “stylish adventure clothes” and Google, in return, has laughed at me. “You’re looking for what now, fool? Bah-ha-ha!

I once spent eight hours choosing a sporty-but-stylish watch online for my travels. No kidding, eight hours. I know, I know, it’s pure vanity, but I’m a designer by profession and if I didn’t value aesthetics, nobody would hire me.

Death by failure.


If you take on a bold pursuits, people expect you to finish. Nobody likes a quitter. But this is usually how my inner-dialogue goes when I’m attempting anything challenging:

Inner-coach: Com’on, girl, you can do it!

Me: You really think so?

Inner-coach: Honestly, no. Since you’ve never actually done anything like this before, I put $100 down on you failing. Sorry.

Me: Smart choice. Actually, I’m cold and tired and I’m really hungry. I’m pretty much ready to give up now.

Inner-coach: Yeah, me too. We’ve been doing this for five minutes. That’s long enough. Wanna spin through that drive-thru burger joint on the way home?

Me: I’m so glad we get along.

If I’m so wimpy, why torture myself with another adventure?

When you look at the list above, you’ll see that I’m getting soft in a way that only a privileged first world citizen can. I’m clinging to my own survival like it’s something I can bubble wrap, store inside a temperature-controlled safe, and preserve forever.

I can’t keep it. It’s a loaner. One day, I’ll have to give it back. Maybe to a snake. Maybe to a carb blockage. Maybe to a heart attack. Maybe by planking in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All deaths are unpleasant deaths. They’re all random, untimely, and tragic.

We fear death because we love life and we don’t want it to stop. Which, if you ask me, is kind of beautiful.

If we avoid everything that makes us nervous, we won’t have much of a life left to love. Death will eventually be a welcome respite to living as a hermit with 1,500 cats and a disturbing hoarding habit.

So screw you, freakishly oversized amygdala. You will not suck the life from me.

Now, first things first: who has some Valium?


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30 Response Comments

  • Odysseus Drifts  June 23, 2011 at 3:28 am

    This is awesome! I always find it a relief to read about other people being afraid to travel. It’s like I then get permission to be afraid, as well. And as for the humor, I especially like how Google laughed at your search for fashionable adventure wear.

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Oh you certainly have my permission!! People are often afraid to confess their fears. I guess that’s one thing I’m not afraid of!

  • The Travel Chica  June 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Death by carbohydrates… that’s certainly a new one. But now that I’ve done some long-term travel, I completely understand what you mean!

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

      I’m sure it’s possible. After several months of having very limited access to fresh food, carbs blocked my digestion for a concerning length of time. Like *really* concerning, and not just because I’m the paranoid type.

  • Christina  June 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Clever, funny and true – expect the bit about your parents. Well, probably true too but those genetic gifts can’t be controlled – well, not to perfection – yet. Still, I know you’ll dream up something incredibly challenging and DO IT anyway. That’s my girl! XX

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Oh dammit! So my mother DOES read my blog! Now I can’t blame all my problems on my parents anymore, which, frankly, takes all of the fun out of this whole blogging thing.

  • Monica  June 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Yes, Finally now I know what happen with my fears……I need to check my amygdala THIS IS IT…….i am also afraid of almost anything….
    When i travel first i am afraid to go to a new place….after i enjoy a lot ….but next time i want to come back to the same place i was to see more in order to avoid to go to other new estrange place…..

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      That’s so cute, Monica. And I do the same thing. A new place is so daunting, but once you’ve been there, you realize that it’s not as scary as you imagine. I was like that with Nepal.

  • Debbie @ European Travelista  June 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I think it is great you recognize your fears and are choosing to face them head on! Great inspiration for us all because, lets face it, we all have fears and a lot of us let them hold us back. So Bravo to you for taking charge.

  • Leif  June 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Awesome post Torre! To be honest, I am actually the same way. Well, maybe not to the same extent but fearful none the less. Regardless of all the traveling I have done and craziness I have survived through, every time I hit the road again, anxiety never fails to accompany me. I just try and put off worrying for later. And when later rolls around, I just keep putting it off. I think thats how I handle it.

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Nice to know I’m not alone on this. I like this idea of procrastinating the worry. There is really no point in worrying about anything unless it’s happening!

  • Sabrina  June 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    So my amygdala is to blame for all these insane fears I sometimes get? Good to know! I finally have something to blame 🙂 Other than being weird that is 🙂

    Dangerous creatures? I hear you! Ever since moving to West Texas and finding out that we not only have one, but two dangerous spiders here, I am freaked out! I actually found a black widow in our garage once and since avoid going in there. And the once-in-a-while brown spider in the bath tub? yes, people tell me they’re most likely harmless wolf spiders, but who’s to say that THIS ONE won’t be the brown recluse that’s gonna end up biting me and I’ll lose my arm??

    Murderers, rapists? I WISH my landlord would consider window bars. Instead I am stuck with stupid windows that probably even I can get break 🙁

    Glad I’m not the only “crazy” on the block 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm

      So I guess you’re not planning a trip to Australia anytime soon? I’ve found dangerous spiders IN MY BED before! I live in Melbourne city near the Yarra River and I once saw a tiger snake (in the top ten most deadly) ten feet in front of me while walking near the river (they breed at the river). But rather than skip Australia, I think you need to come here now. Face up to it!

      • Sabrina  June 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        Holy sh*t! Are you serious? Dangerous spiders in your bed? And a tiger snake in front of you? And you still live there? That’s courageous I’d say!!

        While this does scare me, Australia still is very high on my list of countries I want to visit. Right now, time is the limiting factor (since all my vacation time is used for visiting family across the globe). No worries! You have not scared me away from Australia… yet 😉

  • Meg  June 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Ahhhh. I feat the death my carbs too. I am doing a world trip next year and currently I am a super healthy eater. I am so scared when I get to those countries that you are supposed to stay away from veggies. Then what? I think learning to face our fears and accept failure make us stronger people. I wish my family would have convinced me to go overseas during school to get me out their traveling on my own at a younger age. I am only 27, but also have fears of traveling too. I am so glad that I came across your blog! It’s great!

    • Torre DeRoche  June 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      Where are you going? Even in the countries where you’re not supposed to eat veggies, you can usually still eat them as long as you wash / peel them yourself. A good trick is to wash them in water with a little bleach in it (not enough to taste, but just enough to kill bacteria).

      You’re only 27, so that’s early to set off traveling!

  • Toni  June 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I totally hear ya on the bad fashion Torre. Zip off pants do NOTHING for a woman with hips and muscular thighs (who knew?!). I’m going to Africa in 8 weeks and I SHOULD be buying practical crap but instead I’ve bought all my clothes from fashion shops =D I REFUSE to be boring AND practical…life shouldn’t be allowed to be that cruel to women lol.
    And don’t worry, if there’s a robber in your house, shout it on Twitter and we’ll unfollow him; that should make him leave =)

  • Kat  June 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Aha! I’m so happy to know that I can blame my amygdala now! I think my biggest fear about moving to Australia – other than running out of money in some sort of spectacular fashion – is the dangerous creatures. Like you, I already attract insect bites, and I think a lot of Australian spiders top the brown recluse in terms of reasons to fear them. I’m so screwed!

  • Pete Heck  June 25, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Wonderful post Torre. A death by carbs (or chocolate) is a still a wonderful way to go 😉

    The biggest fear I have is not living the life I wanted to. Up until 2 years ago this is what I was living. This isn’t no dress rehearsal, so the fears of the little things (and sometimes not so little) is what inspires me to keep going. It’s kind of a rush and exciting to have that fear having you do things that take you outside your comfort zone.

    Good luck deciding where you are to next 🙂

  • Lorna - the roamantics  June 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I just love your blog Torre! Good on ya for doing it anyway and being so transparent about all you have to overcome mentally to do it. Sure to encourage ‘fradey cats everywhere. And I hear you on the fashion, sister! Um, I’d like to look like myself in my travel photos paleeze!

  • Heather  July 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    You have seemed to pull every fear I have about traveling right out of my head. I too am trying to plan my next adventure and am frozen about where to begin due to that damn inner pessimism. I need suggestions on how to get past all that crap!

    Can’t wait for your book!
    P.S. I am happy to have come across your blog through So Many Places, this is very inspiring 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  July 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Heather, thanks for your comment. It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one who is scared. My theory on overcoming is: you get past it by just going for it. When you feel scared, acknowledge that it’s irrational / unreasonable / unwanted brain clutter and go and do the activity anyway. That works for me most of the time. What is your adventure?

      • Heather  July 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

        Yes, I agree with just going for it…….that’s what I had to do when I felt the urge to quit my right-out-of-college job to teach kids English in Taiwan (I am still here). My heart was pounding the whole 12 hour flight, I am surprised I didn’t vomit (not a pretty thought, sorry)! But now that I am comfortable here I know it will soon be time to leave to start my ‘real’ travels (not until July 2012), so the familiar nerves are approaching. I want to start in Hong Kong from Taiwan and work my way over to Nepal through China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, maybe India if I have time. EEEK! Asia freaks me out! I know I will be able to get through this next year by reading your stuff……thanks again 🙂

  • Louise  August 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Hilarious! Had me laughing out loud. Pesky amydgala!! I am in the midst of the fashion/adventure clothes crisis right now, as I set off in Oct. Heading to Oz in Dec & I’ve carried out the “how many spiders/snakes have you seen” survey on every single person I’ve met since I booked the ticket 🙂 Nice to see such honesty….I thought I was the only person alive who was afraid of being eaten by a creature!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

      You’ll be fine as long as you don’t go walking through long grass in the bush with bare feet.

  • Me  November 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Its such a relief to know im not the only one whos scared of pretty much everything! Im currently sat downstairs with both doors in view, sat in a little ball terrified someones about to walk in and kill me, or my family. Ive never told anyone that. I fear so much stuff. I see the shadow of the bathroom door and think its a person. Im even scared that eventually everyones going to turn against me and kill me. When i walk home i walk quickly away on the otherside of the road, assuming that theres someone in the cars about to run me over or kidnap me. No one knows any of that about me, and i dont want them to. I just really wanted to get it off my chest. Because you lot might understand, even just a tiny bit. And if any of you have anything at all that may help me, please. Tell me. :/

    • Torre DeRoche  November 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. It must be very tough to live with that fear every day. My honest opinion is that you need to get help from a professional – go to your doctor and tell them what you’ve just told me. They will probably refer you to a psychologist, who will be able to help you identify why you’re feeling that way, and teach you techniques for coping and overcoming this. I can imagine that it’d be quite disabling to your life and to your happiness, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m confident that a professional will be able to help pull you out of this.

  • Corinna  March 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    What a hoot!! I was feeling mopey, thinking I’m scared of everything when I came across this wonderful (and so true) blog. My already oversized amygdala was growing by the day!! Then I remembered, at the age of 28 I backpacked for a year through Australia, South east Asia, India & Nepal and made it back in one piece!! Older and wiser, I set up my own interior design business which almost makes a profit. Now at the age of 42 I have two wonderful little children and enjoy (almost every minute of) raising them and look forward to encouraging them on their own travels. Sometimes we forget to look back on the adventures we’ve already had and to tell ourselves “well done” you’ve made it this far.


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