I am the first to admit that I am a big fat chicken.
I am a scared person, often of irrational things. I’m a self-diagnosed arachnophobe – although really any creature with more than four legs gives me the heebie jeebies. The sheer thought of being on the edge of a cliff or at the top of a tower makes my palms sweat. And if you tied me down and forced me to watch a horror film, (as it’s the only way you’d get me to), the evening would most likely end in a panic attack.
And yet, while I will likely always find horror movies terrifying and those who watch them irrational, I am working on developing a tolerance of spiders, (small ones at least), and I do hope to skydive one day, even if it’s not necessarily in the near future. (Round of applause for my friend Rebeca, pictured above, jumping out of a plane like a boss.)
As discussed in my previous post, in less than one week, I’ll be embarking on one of my biggest adventures yet: spending two months in Burkina Faso – a small, landlocked country just north of Ghana, in West Africa. While a part of me is excited for the adventure, there’s definitely a large part of me that is becoming increasingly anxious as each and every day brings me closer to my departure date. There are many contributing factors here, and key among them is not having any sort of idea as to how I’m getting there and where I’ll be staying – (Thanks Uniterra – but that’s another story…). In addition, the task of navigating my role as a researcher in the economic sector, (albeit with a “communications” spin) – of which I have absolutely no experience in – would be challenge enough, but of course there’s the whole doing all of this in my second language thing, as Burkina is a French speaking country. *Deep breaths.*
But, I know that in spite of having to potentially face spiders the size of my face (yes, above all, it’s my #1 concern), deep down, there’s no way I could let myself not go.
Human kind would be nowhere if nobody took any risks.
If we simply accept our fears and discomforts, we are effectively limiting ourselves as people. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone will open up a whole world of possibilities that you didn’t necessarily know were there before.
For some people, the world can be a scary place. If you have a vivid imagination – as I do – it’s very easy for you to fall into your own trap of imagining every single situation and scenario that could go wrong. But going ahead and doing whatever it is that scares you anyways, is what takes true courage.
Almost exactly one year ago, I left for a month-long study abroad journalism program in the South of France. I was the same combination of excited but nervous. Meeting entirely new people, living with a host family, and ultimately, practicing journalism in french was all quite nerve-wracking. I didn’t know anyone from the group, I’d only had two years of journalism school under my belt, and I have always struggled with my confidence as a french speaker. But, by the end of the month, I had made some of the most wonderful friends and memories, the journalistic work I was doing was challenging but attainable, and I found that the best way to speak to french was to dive right into it! If I didn’t think too much before approaching someone and psych myself out, I was pleasantly surprised by my own ability to communicate.
At the end of the day, even if you find yourself in a tricky situation, you will likely be surprised by your own capabilities to endure it and to resolve the problem. Saying yes to new experiences, and taking on challenges even if you don’t think you’re quite ready for them, is the only way to find growth. It’s an important part of taking your life by the horns, and not letting anything, including your own fears, worries and inhibitions, define your experiences. I can’t say it enough: pushing your limits is the only way to expand them!
At the end of my journey to Burkina, I know I’ll certainly be thankful for all the things that went swimmingly and all of the challenges I’ll have faced – and overcome! – along the way. As Nike would say, I’ll be better for it.