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The Gap Year Blog

Travelling With Anxiety - Into The Wild Blog - Frontier

22 May 2018 15:05 PM

Almost a year ago I set foot on the island that I now call my home. In August of last year I came to Caye Caulker as a volunteer. I arrived at the airport shaking and nauseous - feeling overwhelmed was an understatement. 

For as long as I can remember anxiety has controlled my life and dragged me away from my dreams. As a keen zoologist, getting experience out in the field was essential for my future. But what I didn’t know was how truly life-changing coming to Belize would be. 

Caye Caulker is a bubble, floating far away from reality. Not only is the air warm, but so are the people. There’s no judgement, no pressure - just a small island of wanderers all bonded by their love of the sea... and rum. 

When it comes to dealing with day-to-day life with anxiety, pushing yourself can be hard and seem like an impossible task. In the mind of someone with anxiety, scenarios never seem to have either a sink or swim outcome - the voice inside your head is telling you that if you jump in the deep end you will sink. But travelling thousands of miles from home I learnt to kick and kick and fight until I could gasp for air again. 


The go-slow lifestyle here is contagious and a breath of fresh air. When you need time out there is always a sunset to watch, or the calming sounds of the waves at the end of our beautiful dock, to allow you to press the reset button on life and take a deep breath. 

I came to Caye Caulker as a timid introvert who was afraid to live and experience life. I left as a completely different person with more drive, self-love and appreciation for the small beauties in life. 

I now wake up everyday with my dream job on this wonderful island with a smile on my face, because it taught me there is no crime in slowing down, taking a deep breath and being proud of taking steps of self-development no matter how small they are.

By Sophie Pipe – Assistant Research Officer | Belize Marine Conservation

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!