2 days. 3 flights. Raleigh, NC to Sevilla, España.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked if I’m excited for this day, this trip. I’ve spent the last month sliding back and forth between excitement and terror. The excitement, I find, most commonly accompanies my imaginings—riding a riverboat to the Loch Ness, touring the canals of Venice, visiting the Eiffel Tower. On the flip side, terror most commonly accompanies reality—turning in my visa application, purchasing my plane ticket, packing my bags. Today, my imaginings are becoming reality. It takes imagination to dream, intrepidity to do.
Others I know going abroad have been posting cute pictures documenting their excitement for such great adventure. My social inhibitions would have me do the same, but the honest-to-God truth is this: I am terrified. I may be the only one or I may speak for many, but I dare not make presumptions either way. I am so accustomed to thinking of myself as some sort of fearless adventurer. I couldn’t be farther from the truth.
My head is full of doubts and questions: “Are you sure this is what you want? Why the heck did you sign up for this? I don’t even speak Spanish. Do you know how many scary people there are all over the world? You’re just a naïve American; you’re going to get taken advantage of. This isn’t safe!” When these doubts (and many, many more) take over, sometimes, I imagine the little characters from Pixar’s “Inside Out” having conversations with each other deep in mind. Comical, but not comforting.
In the past, I have dealt with fear, doubt, and insecurity by immediately mentally “overcoming” them as soon as they enter my thoughtosphere. And by “overcome,” I mean, “shove under the rug and pretend I’m better than that.” This fear of a new place, new people, new challenges is not something so easily shaken off (Though I haven’t tried dancing to Taylor Swift yet so perhaps I should give that a go before saying so). The fact is, I am innately resistant to change. No matter how many ways I spin it, change is scary. Big changes, little changes, it doesn’t matter; they all cause an averse reaction at some level. In pondering my obstinacy to change (despite my ardent efforts to be flexible), I realize that it is all about my struggle for control.
Of course, this is not something I like to admit to myself nor anyone else for that matter. With nearly every piece of this trip planned, I am still so afraid. I am afraid because there are so many things beyond my control, because no matter how much I research, I cannot eliminate uncertainty. No matter how much I read, I can’t see the future.
I seem to forget that just because I am not in control of things does not mean things are out of control. There’s no amount of logic, reason, or knowledge that can assuage the fear of the unknown. So what can? Am I subject to an anxious existence until I slowly become acquainted with my new living scenario? No, where logic, reason, and knowledge fail, faith prevails.
I guess this is the part where I talk about who is in control—karma, Fate, God? We can nix karma because that was a joke; we don’t always get what we deserve in accordance with our good and bad deeds. Then we come down to Fate and God. When given the choice to believe that every intricacy of our existence and every going-on is guided by an inanimate force that randomly defines billions of unique destinies or the intentional power of a living, supremely intelligent being, I’m gonna have to go with the latter. I mean, do you even science? The world runs WAY too perfectly to discount a creator. This conclusion is certainly not as simple as I have just described, but, for the sake of time, I’m going to leave the God controversy right there for now. Basically, I think He is in control and that is the comfort to which I cling.
Back to this extraordinary adventure I am embarking on: it’s out of my hands. With that in mind, I am excited, so excited, for the terrifying new experiences I am about to encounter. Instead of continuing in my efforts to “overcome” fear when it arises, it’s time to let faith counter fear and hold fast to the rock that is higher than I. This is only the beginning.