“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, ‘Always do what you are afraid to do.'”
I’ve recently arrived home for the Summer break but it doesn’t really seem like a break to me this year. I’ve come home for three weeks to study for my GRE exam, which is coming up quickly, and then I’m off to Virginia to see some schools, deposit my niece, and then return to Orlando to fly to my study abroad programme. I’m so excited. It’s become increasingly difficult for me to sit still these days. I’m constantly looking for something, trying to figure myself out, working to make myself better. Every time I get in the car I just want to drive and drive and drive until I’m far away in a new place meeting people and learning things and tasting foods.
Whenever I’m at school I feel this sense of freedom, like I can stretch and expand as widely and deeply as my lungs will allow me to inhale. But then I come home. And I know I’m the youngest child of my parents, but I don’t know how to explain to them that they have to let me grow up. I understand the dangers of foreign countries, and how to take care of myself when I travel, but I want them to trust me. I want them to understand that at some point they have to let me go and take a train, or bus by myself, and it will in fact be okay. They need to understand that I’ve got a lot more common sense than I’m given credit for, and I won’t, for any reason, tell a stranger where I’m living, or get myself into any other kind of trouble. (On a side note, I blame the film Taken for all of my parents concerns about my travels. I’m guessing they missed the part where I’m not that much of moron.)
It is because of this sheltered path that I’ve now, in some ways, become afraid of things. I’m afraid of talking to people at the airport terminal or in a train because my parents have instilled in me this great fear of all people who are not those I know, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve got a keen sense of a person’s character upon our meeting.
Now I’ve got the chance to face my fears, go abroad alone, and tackle the questions I have for the world and for myself (and I’m scared as hell). What do I believe? What kind of person do I want to become? Where can I find a community of people with the same beliefs that I have? Can I get over my fear of bathrooms and just use a stupid public bathroom without wanting to cry? How can I figure out what I want to become? Where will I find the best formaggi sauce? Or falafel? Can I get over my fear of not having everything I need in my purse or book bag and just go abroad with a couple of outfits and a toothbrush, and find things as I need them?
How can I become the best daughter, sister, friend, writer, student, artist, and member of the global community to all those around me? How can I be open to giving and receiving the maximum amount of love and imagination in the world? Can I share my creativity without being afraid of what those who receive it will think? By whom will it be received? By whom do I want it to be received? Can I live in today without anticipating tomorrow? Can I learn how to dance in this very moment right here, fully in love with every gesture and movement, and every class that it’s taken me to get here?
Where will my lung capacity, and sense of self, grow most? Can I overcome my fear to grow beyond my own bubble?
Right now, I know that I want to grow and expand and learn, but I’m doubting my ability to do it. Can I really get by on my own? I’ve never had to do that before. I want to, but I’m also afraid to. It is with that fear that I’d like to take the GRE, pack my bags and learn how to do laundry in a sink, because, God help me, I’m doing this (whether anyone likes it or not).
I must do always, that which I am afraid to do.
Here I go…