Highlighted Topics: Facing Fear, Taking Action, Living Authentically
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Garret Scurr, photographer, flight attendant and all around solid human being is my latest inspired by pick. Garret has a really unique ability to mow through fear, take action and follow wherever the road is calling him. At 38 years of age, he can clearly say that he has created a lifestyle for himself that hits on everything he values: travel, staying healthy and active, having the free time he desires and basically living life on his own terms.
Garret has made decisions in his life that a lot of us tend to shy away from.....because it's too scary. Travel the world alone. Check. Move to another country and start a new life. Check. He jumps on opportunities that take him away from what he knows and listens to his inner voice, wherever it leads. These are some of the reasons why I wanted to rack his brain and hear more about the ways of thinking and perspectives that has brought him here, now, with me, sitting on top of a cliff to have a conversation.
I also was intrigued to learn more about Garret's capacity to get through difficult life transitions. He had a 4 year marriage that ended at the age of 30. He battled through a severe case of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) in his early teens that he won. He traveled the word solo for a year and a half in his early twenties, lived in another country, changed careers multiple times, has lived in different states...... to put it simply, he has faced change, challenged his demons and has recreated his life more than once.
For this, I'm inspired.
Garret appeared in my life almost ten years ago. Our relationship has always been and continues to be one that I gain and learn from. With that said, here are some pieces from the conversation that we had when we sat down to chat for this Inspired By post.
* In order to catch the true authenticity of our conversation, no language was changed. Explicit language below.
~ begin ~
G: There’s that idea of wanderlust (defined as a strong desire to travel)and people are putting ideas out there that everything is great. Travel images on social media can project an idea that everything is great. It creates this idea in our heads that a life of travel is so great, but in all reality we’re all going through some sort of shit to get there, or those are fake photos. The travel to get to some of those places can, alone, be hard. Traveling’s fucking hard. You have to go through all nighters, getting there, sleep in airports, the shit….then, all of a sudden, you're there, and everything is great and you post that moment on Instagram, “Like F yeah, I’m here!”
……but, you had to get there…..so, these can be fake realities that people can create and it can cause us to have a false idea of what’s going on.
G: So, here we are,(sitting on the cliffs of La Jolla cove for this conversation) this is beautiful, learning to be in the moment and be happy. (....is what’s important.)
On Battling OCD
(Garret’s OCD symptoms started in 6th grade and were visible through 9th grade. He reports going to therapists, being put on medication and at one point spending 1 month in a mental hospital.)
G: I was really plagued with OCD as a kid. Like super plagued by it. I was trapped in a world where I couldn’t touch anything, I didn’t feel comfortable going to school, I was scared of dust….until one day I decided to get control of it.
I was on medications for quite awhile, I went to a psychologist, eventually, they put me in a mental hospital for a month. When I got out of the hospital, it didn’t make me better in any way. The medication, the therapy, that didn’t do much for me besides put me in a fog. What did help me was when I was able to create this world in the hospital that was clean for me. That’s how OCD works. You create these rituals in order to make yourself feel comfortable. (In retrospect), possibly (what I struggled with) was actually more of an anxiety disease than OCD because I wasn’t scared of germs, I was scared of a fake idea of what dirty was.
When I got out of the hospital, I got a girlfriend, who ended up being my first love. (They were together for a year.) She didn’t want to be with me anymore because of my OCD issues, which broke my heart. She lived in that world with me in a sense. When she said she wasn’t going to be with me anymore, I told her that I would stop. (Garret’s first love never went back to him but he claims that the experience of loosing her to his OCD is what made him muster up the desire to change and his symptoms soon stopped. )
I like to think love healed it. (his OCD)
I was on medication until I broke up with my first girlfriend and then it was like a fog lifted and for the first time I thought “What should I do with my life?”
K: So, when you stopped doing everything that outside influences where prescribing or telling you to do to get better, you got better?
G: Yup. I made a choice. (to stop)In the end, it’s a choice. Buddhist monks teach that.
K: Do you still struggle with OCD?
G: Yes, I don’t like shoes in the house, that’s the only thing I have left. Nothing is debilitating anymore. I also think airplanes are gross, but you just move on.(The irony is that Garret is a flight attendant and claims he deals with some pretty “gross” stuff.)
On Finding “Happy”
G: After I finished up high school, I went to a community college. I started getting really into surfing. I got dedicated to that and wanted to be good. I got my AA degree and was going to continue with college, but then I wanted something more and I needed to figure out what that meant for me.
I guess I never understood why I was never happy or satisfied when I was around 20 or 21 years old. So, I decided to save up and travel. I worked 4 jobs and saved $16,000 so I could travel around the world.
K: How did you know that traveling was what you wanted to do?
G: I wanted to travel and see the world. I had never been anywhere.
(Also, on a deeper level) You hear your thoughts, hear your soul speaking to you, they talk to you. Things drive you to do something. Some people listen to that voice and others go, “I’m not going to listen to that…or why do that?” (He listened and followed.)
I, essentially, turned my (OCD) obsession toward working a bunch so I could go travel and that was going to be my goal. I’m goal driven, I guess. I worked, I finished school and then (I decided) I’m gonna go, and I went, I was gone for like a year and a half.
K: That’s rad. Where did you go?
I went all over Europe, all over South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. (Solo)
On Traveling Alone
The day I left, I stopped the first night in New York, got to the hotel (from San Diego) and called my Dad balling crying, scared out of my mind. My Dad ended up talking to me and we had a conversation where he said, “Just go, you can always come back, so just go, try it and see what happens…..”
I got to Europe and I was in Ireland for the first three nights. The people were great. They took me out a couple nights and it was great. By the third day I was on a bus traveling around Ireland.
K: That’s impressive, especially because you struggled so much with anxiety. Do you feel like traveling the world alone was a big leap for you?
What holds people back a lot is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of all these things that can happen. You can become crippled by it. I’m not crippled by fear when it comes to making decisions about my own life. When I’m doing my own things, or dealing with change or handling things that need to be done, I’m not crippled by that (kind of) fear. I have more fear around social things.
On Being a Seeker
K: Do you think that your feeling of “wanting more” will ever be settled?
G: I agree that I’m always seeking. It’s something I’ll always do and I’m okay with it.
On Life Transitions
On ending a marriage, starting a new career path and living in different places
K: How do you reset?
G: Again, it’s a choice. You make a choice about the direction of your life and you do it. Although, you have to know what direction you want to go in your life. You can become more confident from a “reset.”
(The specific “resets” that came up during our interview was the ending of his marriage. Garret was married for 4 years from the ages of 26-30. His move back from Nicaragua (in his early thirties) where he had a clean slate to build from was also a reset we discussed.)
On why He left Nicaragua
G: I wanted more, I was there, I got into a routine, a stable state, a status quo, whatever you want to call it, and I’m like, "Ok is this it?” I can easily do it, surf everyday, work at a bar every night and be fine, travel, do the whole thing I wanna do…why leave it? Because I want more.
G: Coming back from Nicaragua was a reset. Where I had to reset and figure out what I wanted next.
On how he discovered his next step after living in Nicaragua and coming back to San Diego to reset
G: I feel very privileged that I’ve been able to do a lot of travel. It's allowed me time to reflect.
I know travel is important. I know I’m a person who seeks adventure, I like to be out in nature, I like to be active. It makes me feel good. (Doing) Those things make me feel like I experienced the world. I know that I’m seeking time and experience other than material things.
Knowing (those aspects of myself) brought clarity (to what I wanted), then the second step was setting up my life to make those things happen.
On Career Change: On Becoming a Flight Attendant
G: In retrospect I can see how it (being a flight attendant) has set me up to do everything that I want to do: I can travel, I have free time, I have a job where I’m not working five days a week, I have 18 days off (a month) It’s huge. That was a piece of the puzzle that was just given to me. (Referring to his Aunt causally telling him about an opportunity to become a flight attendant shortly after he came back from living in Nicaragua. Prior to this Garret was a wedding photographer and managed Rusty Board Shop.)
K: It seems like knowing what makes you tick and who you are is what has set you up.
G: Yup. It has.
K: What have you done when you didn’t know what direction to go in your life? What would your advice be to others who are feeling lost?
G: Just start.
K: Start where?
G: Wherever it is that you are. You at least know one thing, you can get up and make breakfast. Just start.
K: What’s your relationship with regret?
G: I deal with regret on a smaller scale, for instance I would regret not paddle boarding today(as we sat overlooking the cove with perfect paddle conditions, we went after) vs. regretting not living the life I want to live. I don’t have regret. I just know I’m going to execute, so I don’t have regret. With everything that happens there’s always the next decision.
K: What are values that you base your life around?
G: Travel, being active, having free time, not living life to work. Having partnership is a big desire for me. That’s been the biggest desire for me in my life is partnership.
K: How have you gotten over heart break?
G: Some people might get bitter and say “F it.” (Referring to the feeling of defeat after a relationship ends)I don’t. I guess I’m a hopeless romantic at heart….
I go more into the learning opportunity within it. It’s educational (relationships)I ask questions: “How could have I been a better partner?” “How could I have done things differently?” “Was I being true to myself?”
I also own the things I did blow it on. (In relationships) Then I think about how I could do it differently.
On Selecting a Partner with Similar Values
G: I’ve realized that having a partner who shares similar values is really important. I don’t think I was always true to that when selecting partners in the past or falling in love. I realize that being true to that is important. It can be a struggle to compromise or find the balance for both partners values to be met…I need to be true to my values. I know my values are not crazy and (that they're)healthy.
It's important to look at what you value and decide if it aligns with your partnership. If it doesn’t “you have to love yourself more in a non abrasive way.
I think that there’s no greater feeling than being with somebody where you're sharing things that you both enjoy. You’re both stoked on them. I think when your constantly compromising to do something because you're not on the same page and it’s always a push and pull to do things; that’s draining. I want someone who is going to inspire me and motivate me too.
K: What have you learned about friendship?
G: I’ve always made good choices there. Those choices are easy.
K: Why do you think?
G: I guess, I’m not afraid to be alone.
K: I know that health is important to you. Do you have any specific ways of being or philosophies, that you live by?
G: I’m concerned about health. I try to eat healthy, I’m very conscious of what I put in my body. I’m mostly gluten free. I like to juice, vegetables and herbs. I’m pretty routine for breakfast granola yogurt and peanut butter toast.
K: How about exercise?
G: I hike mountains, usually with a 40 lb. bag. If I’m in San Diego I’ll surf. I go to the gym on layovers and once in awhile I’ll swim.
~ end ~
Garret is a charger. A Charger on many levels: Mind, Body & Soul. Cheers to you Garret Scur. Thanks for your time friend.