I’m not going to lie, I’m kinda scared. I’m going to Africa for five months and I am nervous. Excited, anxious, nervous and a little bit afraid. Part of me doesn’t even feel like I’m going, and right now that’s the part I feel the most. This feels normal to me, this life here in Asheville hanging out with my parents, stopping by the local ice cream shop, walking the dog at night. It feels normal just being here. But this time tomorrow I will be in the airport, leaving it all behind again for Africa. People don’t often go to Africa. People go to London, they go to Europe, they can relate to me. But few people that I have told have been able to relate this time. This time it’s on my own. This time I don’t have a travel buddy. This time I’m not staying on campus with a flat rep to guide me. This time I don’t have a fellow UNCW student to go with. This time it’s on me. This time it’s Africa.
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
– Nelson Mandela.
So that explains the fear. What do I do the first few days? Will my roommates be there when I get there? Will I be able to pronounce their names? Will there be new people to adventure with the first few days? Will it be safe to walk around by myself? Where’s the grocery store? What will I eat? What if they don’t all speak English? What if I can’t find the university? What if I can’t find the beach?! Unanswered questions. Fear. A new destination that feels more like a whole new world I’m breaking into. Fear.
I don’t think it makes sense not to be afraid. But Taylor Swift once said, “I don’t think fearless means living without fear, but living in spite of your fears.” And in that case, I am fearless.
Fear drives me. Fear pushes me into adventure. As long as I don’t let my fear overcome this experience, I win. It feels like I’ve already won. I already have one semester abroad under my belt. I’ve already left everything comfortable and familiar behind once. I’ve already started all over and created a life for myself. I’ve already fallen in love with a city and left heartbroken. I’ve already made new friends, eaten new foods, and gotten lost in a huge city alone. I’ve already won. This is just the next step. The next great adventure. The next big win. This time it’s on me. This time I am pushed beyond my comfort zones, beyond anything I imagined. This time I have no choice but to grow. Grow in my independence, my confidence, my spirituality. Grow in my views of the world, in other people, in myself. I will push the boundaries. I will open my eyes. I will expand my world. I will overcome my fear, and I will win.
Here we go.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt.