Grace Millane Was All Of Us.
By now, Monday the 10th of December, we know enough.
22-year-old Grace Millane was on a year-long, round-the-world adventure after graduating from university. She arrived here in New Zealand on the 20th of November, following six weeks in South America. She was last seen alive at 9.41pm on the 22nd of November, entering the CityLife hotel with a 26-year-old man who has since been charged with Grace’s murder. Her body was found in bushland in the Waitakere Ranges.
And as unbearable and devastating and heart-wrenching as it is to talk about all of this, I think it’s important that we do. There are a lot of twenty-something women are hurting right now over this news – myself included – and we need to help each other process it. First of all let me say this:
There is nothing, and I truly mean nothing, Grace should have done differently. The responsibility of trauma should never be on the traumatised. The responsibility of safety should never be on the victim. For the first six weeks of her travels, Grace would have experienced the crucial bonus of being on her own: serendipity. People touring in pairs often seem self-contained, impermeable. When you are alone, and when you have the courage to appear as vulnerable as you really feel, this is when travel’s most memorable moments occur. But when the unimaginable happens, as it did to this smiling, beautiful, intelligent young girl, it is so easy to reside yourself to the idea that life would be so much safer if you just stayed home. Inside. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Dr. Elaine Fox, a famous psychologist and neuroscientist had an interesting perspective on fear, and how we respond to situations that provoke this emotional response: “We don’t run from the bear because we are afraid of it- we are afraid of the bear because we run.” In simple terms, Fox was saying that it is our actions that come first and then the feelings follow. So don’t run away from the bear of solo travel, my beautiful friend. Don’t run. I’ve had messages from girls who are considering cancelling their flights, delaying plans, rethinking destinations. Don’t.
Because you know what? Fear is a f*cking lonely place to live. Go out into the world in leaps and bounds. Travel in hope and wonder. Lean into experiences.
Not despite what happened to Grace, but for Grace.