A couple of years ago I published my first book, The Boy Who Was Afraid of the World. It tells the story of someone (me) hitchhiking through Europe for six months and trusting in the kindness of strangers – more importantly, it tells the the story of what is happening on the inside to someone who has spent a lot of life being afraid. We’re all afraid of many things (anyone who says they aren’t is lying), but I wanted to address the issue of accepting fear because it is something that many people do not openly talk about.
Since hitting that publish button, I have had a fair few messages from people asking what happened after The Boy Who Was Afraid of the World because I left a couple of big questions unanswered – in part, because I didn’t know the answers at the time. A couple of years on, I do know the answers (or that there isn’t one), so I’d like to share the answer here.
If you haven’t read The Boy Who Was Afraid of the World and you would like to, go read it now – you can download it from Amazon to read from your computer / tablet / phone / kindle for the price of a beer. This little bit of information that I am about to share will be included in all future versions of the story, so you aren’t missing out on anything, but it does give away part of the story if you read it now, without having read the book first.
As you (hopefully) know, the book finishes with me in England with Leah, returning due to the threat of ill health (that mysterious pain) and having no money to deal with the problem. Right after getting back I went to the doctor who referred me to the hospital for scans. The scans found nothing (which concerned me). Then the pain went away. And it stayed away for a very long time.
Many months later, it came back briefly and I once again went to a doctor. They again said they could see nothing and once more the pain disappeared and hasn’t really been back. A Korean doctor theorised that it was something called CPPS which is a pain around the pelvic area (it varies by patient) that is caused by anxiety, food allergies, or climate, and affects 5-20% of males (depending on what figures you look at – although this is based on diagnosis figures, thus may be an underestimate). Like many people, I naturally feel anxious at times and maybe it was CPPS because I was at the end of half a year of continuously moving with a handful of pounds in my bank account. I looked it up (obviously) and found the evidence inconclusive – my only symptom was pain and it went away. Maybe it was that, maybe it wasn’t.
Either way, it’s gone now, and as far as I am aware, I am fine.
Thank you to those who asked.
As for what happened in my life next, Leah and I moved to Istanbul to teach English. Things didn’t go right in Istanbul, so we went on a new adventure instead – cycling across Europe on £30 bicycles, rafting the Danube on our homemade pirate ship, and hitchhiking into Eastern Europe – before moving to Jeju, South Korea. I left Korea before Leah to walk across Iceland with my brother (she followed a few months later) and generally tried to continue living a life that I wanted to live. As I type these words, Leah and I are in Malta, hoping to find a base from which we can continue the search for the life we want to live.
“Everything is going to be OK. Everything is always OK. Until it’s not.” That’s a line from my book (apologies for quoting myself – that’s not cool), but it sums up how I feel we should deal with problems in life. Assume everything will be OK (so we don’t become nervous balls of anxiety) and get on with our lives. Sometimes bad things do happen… sometimes tragic things happen… but we mustn’t spend our lives waiting for them.