When I graduated from my small hometown high school in rural central Wisconsin I set my sights on getting as far away from the life I’d always known. I loved where I came from but I knew I wanted (and needed) something completely different for this next step in my life. So I chose to attend one the biggest universities in the state, in the biggest city in the state. When I started telling people I would be going to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee everyone asked me, “isn’t it dangerous there?” or “are you sure you’ll feel safe there?”
My answer was always the same. “Yes, it is dangerous in Milwaukee.” Last year, Milwaukee was named the 7th most dangerous city in America. I knew about the city and its crime when I registered to be a student there. While it’s never something that’s great to hear, I still went to school there. It was what I wanted and it was what fit my career path. Completely changing my schooling on account of what “might” or “could” happen seemed just silly to me.
In my 4 years living in Milwaukee, I was never robbed, my was car never broken into, I was never threatened, harassed, shot at, raped or injured. That doesn’t mean Milwaukee is completely safe because as I just told you, it’s definitely not.
So how did I stay safe in such a dangerous place?
I was vigilant in common sense ways. I avoided known “bad areas”, especially at night. I didn’t walk through the streets or back alleys alone at night. I left literally nothing in my car. I never got ridiculously black out wasted to the point where I couldn’t make sound decisions.
The things I do to keep myself safe at home are the same things I do to keep myself safe while traveling all around the world.
Shortly into my college career I began traveling internationally quite extensively. Once again, everyone asked me if it was really safe to be doing that — traveling to all these 3rd world communist countries. Was it really safe for me, a young female, to be traveling around the world where I wouldn’t know the people or the language? Wasn’t the water unsafe? Aren’t there drugs there? couldn’t you be raped, robbed, or killed?
Yes, the water is unsafe. Yes, there are lot of drugs there, and yes, I could be raped or killed. All of those things are potential dangers. But here I am writing this post, safely behind my computer, after having traveled to over a dozen countries in the world.
I’m not saying if you’re smart bad things won’t ever happen. Bad things happen every day for no reason that we can comprehend, but we still wake up and take part in the world.
Yes, the world is dangerous. It always has been and it always will be to a certain extent. You don’t need to travel to a big city or around the world to be in danger. Walking out your door, getting in your car, and just flat out participating in life is dangerous.
Letting the possibility of what “might happen” change your decisions is a really sad way to live. The amount of scenarios that could come from one single decision are endless. If you’re lucky enough to find what makes your soul happy don’t let what anyone says stop you from doing it.
I’m not saying buy a one-way ticket to Syria or Sudan (I mean come on now). I’m saying danger is inevitable, but if something brings you joy, have the courage to reach out and grab it – even if it’s a little “dangerous”.
If being a pilot makes you happy, you should fly those planes. If being a race car driver makes you happy, you should race those cars. If travel makes your soul smile like it does mine, then you need to travel; despite the dangers that “might” happen along the way.