My Wild West Road Trip: A Journey of Fearlessness

I have never considered myself to be an impulsive person. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I am the type of person who carefully thinks through every decision before I act on it. Sometimes it’s out of caution, but other times it’s due to a fear of the unknown. My best friend, Tori, is the complete opposite. She has been my best friend for nearly a decade and I think that this girl has only been scared a handful of times.

Over the summer, we went on the road trip of a lifetime, completely alone, which spanned across three states: Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. We had the time of our lives, and it jokingly became known as our “Indie Movie Roadtrip.” But this road trip was more than just two girls driving with the windows down, singing at the top of our lungs (although we did do this quite a bit).

We did the unimaginable, like skydiving over the Grand Canyon, chopping seven inches of my hair, and even getting matching tattoos! Before this trip, I would have never imagined myself doing any of these things, but this road trip marked a turning point in my life–it was the moment I truly learned how to be fearless. 

The road trip began in Phoenix, Arizona at a dingy rental car place. Because we were only eighteen, we needed to find a place that would rent to us legally. And that’s where we met our beloved car, Watson. Watson was a 2013 Chevy Impala complete with a broken review mirror,  a permanently reclined passenger seat, and AC that would stop working if we charged our phones for too long (which was fun in over 100-degree heat!). Oh, and the check engine light was on for the majority of the trip. Watson was charming, to say the least. This was the first instance where fear plagued me. As soon as I sat in the car, my mind began to formulate worst-case scenarios. But I brushed those thoughts off and decided that I wasn’t going to let my anxiety get in the way of my fun!

Credit: Tori Taylor

After spending a night in Phoenix we switched gears (we love a good car pun) and drove to Peach Springs, Arizona for our first big adventure: skydiving over the Grand Canyon. As per usual, Tori was excited while I felt the familiar rush of anxiety fall over me. Even though we had gone skydiving the summer before, I still couldn’t help but feel nervous at the prospect. As we suited up for the dive, I mentioned my fear to my instructor. He looked at me and gave me a very valuable piece of advice: fear is a self-taught emotion and if you choose to feel that fear then you are limiting yourself. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but I nodded in agreement anyway. As we sat on the plane, I felt my legs beginning to shake slightly, until I remembered his advice. I took a deep breath and before I knew it we were soaring through the sky and my fear vanished. I spent the entire dive smiling and cheering as my instructor shouted: “See, THIS is living!” That’s when I realized the truth in his advice. Although you obviously can’t choose what it is that scares you, you can choose whether or not the fear overcomes you!

Credit: Paragon Skydive

Our next stop was good ole Las Vegas, Nevada, where we spent our day eating delicious food, watching multiple shows, and even being hypnotized on stage! After Vegas, we drove to Salt Lake City. It was a hot summer day and I was covered in sweat which stuck to my long black hair. I complained, wishing that I could just chop it all off to my dream bob length.

“Then let’s do it,” Tori said. Absolutely not. I had worked WAY to hard to get my hair to a length I actually liked. Plus what if it looked bad on me? I’d be stuck with a bad haircut in college!

“It’s HAIR. It will grow back. If it’s your dream length, then do it!” said my best friend. Honestly, I couldn’t argue with her on that one.

So, we walked into the closest salon we could find and I did it. It was so worth it and I ended up loving the length. I found a newfound appreciation for my hair that I once lacked. If I didn’t take the risk, I would have listened to my fears and never would have gotten to enjoy my fun, new look!

Our road trip came to an end in Phoenix. On the drive back, we reminisced on our adventures as we blasted ABBA’s friendship anthem, “Chiquitita.” We laughed and talked for hours, until  Tori looked at me and said, “Nicole. Let’s get matching tattoos so we can remember how impactful this road trip was, forever.”

Credit: Tori Taylor 

I looked at her like she was crazy! But, as we talked about it more, I realized how much I had grown on this trip. I overcame fears and anxieties while learning the value of taking risks and coming to peace with my life. I agreed and that night we walked into a shop and got matching check engine lights on our ankles. These tattoos represent more than just a fun road trip, they represent growth and bravery and cement a bond between two best friends for life!

Had I let fear stop me, I would have never experienced all of the beauty that life has to offer. Choosing to relinquish fear’s control of my life was the best decision I could’ve made and I’m so much better off because of it!


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