July was a milestone month for me. I flew for the first time. In an airplane. Yes, you read that correctly: until this summer, I had never before flown. My maiden flight was a short trip to Calgary for a business meeting, extended slightly for an afternoon at the Calgary Zoo.
While my first flight may have been one of the shortest plane rides I could have chosen, it was a starting point. Why I never flew before was due to a variety of reasons, one of them being the obvious: fear. However, I made a decision that it was time to face that fear. Facing fear leads to growth by taking us out of our comfort zones.
When I talk to people who are not familiar with the Boyle Street and McCauley neighbourhoods from any kind of personal experience – only from what they read and hear about crime and safety issues either in the mainstream media or the anecdotes of people they know – I often get asked if I am afraid of spending so much time in the inner city. My answer is always similar: no more than anywhere else. I have had bad – and good – experiences throughout the city. I encourage them to take a day trip to the area – to come to an event, go shopping, have a meal, take a walk around. While the area certainly has its challenges, perpetuating negative stereotypes doesn’t help – especially when the people doing the talking never spend any time here in the first place.
I stepped out of my comfort zone, flew, and as a result will likely fly again in the future. It has made me grow as a person. So has the choice to spend large amounts of time here in Boyle Street and McCauley.