Nov 23, 2020
Rites of Passage: Fearless and Far
Extreme Adventurer Mike Corey travels around the world to experience tribal rites of passage that demystify his darkest fears.
Before you read, remember this: Independent editorial isn't free. If you enjoy this article, please consider creating an account to support our journalism so we can keep going.
Mike Corey has forged his own path in life as an adventure travel filmmaker. His YouTube series Fearless and Far is an episodic quest for misunderstood rites of passage – from frog poison rituals in Brazil to bamboo poking tattoos in Thailand, to freight train hopping in West Africa, to hanging his body by hooks. Corey’s journey has taken him from Yemen to Bangladesh to Mauritania, destinations that fall off the beaten path of digital nomads, travel vloggers, and social media influencers. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, it’s all in the search for the experience of feeling alive. [Listen to this episode of the podcast.]
“Fear is a bully man, if you listen to it, it will continue to push you around until the day you die.”
Through his continual pursuit to push his comfort zone, Corey has learned to seek out that dreadful “pit in your stomach feeling” because he has learned that there is a reciprocal exhilaration waiting for him on the other side of fear.
Corey approaches his lifestyle as an extreme sport, and he covets risk the same way a wingsuit pilot does.
“The brand is called fearless and far now not because I’m fearless, but for most of my life, I was very fearful. I don’t think there’s anybody who was more afraid of public speaking and being in the spotlight than me.” As a child, Corey was ridiculed by a teacher in front of his class-mates, which resulted in panic attacks all the way through university.
With 10 years of full-time travel under his belt, Corey was asked to host the BBC Travel Show. After overcoming debilitating shyness by continually facing his fears, Corey now travels 11 months out of the year, doing things in the spotlight that he never thought he would do, and living his dream life.
“By making yourself uncomfortable voluntarily, you can be very comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Corey lives his brand to the fullest and he even wears it on his skin. You can follow him to Kalinga in northern Luzon, Philippines where he endures a traditional hand-tapping tattoo from a 103-year-old legend who used to tattoo head-hunters. What better way to have an intimate cultural experience?
THE SELF-TAUGHT PATH
After running and gunning from country to country with a few cameras in his backpack, Corey now benefits from an entire BBC production crew to help him plan and shoot on location.
“I’m used to doing it all, so having a crew with me allows me to just focus on the interaction with local people, vocalizing the experience as best I can. Both of those things can be quite hard to do sometimes.”
Corey’s self-taught path to 350,000 subscribers on YouTube, and a coveted gig with an established, global media outlet in the BBC all started with one video. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Canada, Corey volunteered as a research assistant for scientists studying ocean conservation. He brought a camera along to film what he discovered in the ocean, never planning to turn the camera on himself. But the footage he captured on these backpacking trips won him several international travel video competitions. Corey encourages the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to not worry whether they have official training or the fanciest camera, but instead to dive in without hesitation.
“Start. Start Today. Start with what you have. You don’t need that thing you think you need. What you need to do is start. This is where we always get hung up. The starting. I don’t have formal training. I bashed at this skillset with a blunt bat for half a decade with zero god-gifted ability. Now people call me a ‘natural’ I think it’s funny.”
WAR ON FEAR
Corey has prepared a course for people people who are interested in pushing past the small fears in their lives by establishing a better relationship with fear to develop into the person they are destined to be. [You can learn more about the 11 video War on Fear Bootcamp here.]
“I’m instructing because I know the dark side, I’ve lived in it, I’ve tread through it, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have panic attacks and feel completely bent over with this feeling of fear.”
In this episode of The Outdoor Journal Podcast, Corey discusses what motivated him to try body suspension by hooks, the most painful style of traditional tattooing, the biggest cultural faux pas he’s made on his travels, and how to become the superhero version of yourself. [Listen to the full episode of the podcast.]
Stay tuned to The Outdoor Journal for Part 2 of Rites of Passage with Mike Corey.