Every adventure begins nervously, whether it’s a day trip with friends or a solo journey on a plane across the entire expanse of our country, it always begins with a buzzing feeling at the pit of my stomach. Sort of like riding a roller coaster, you aren’t really convinced it’s real until you’re climbing the first hill and then the nerves all hit and you’re suddenly no longer sure if you want to be doing this or not. What if something happens? What if it’s not as fun as you’d imagined? What if I end up wishing i’d never left my door step? I always think of that quote by Bilbo from the Lord of The Rings, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
For the last year I’ve been intentionally putting myself in situations that for whatever reason make me a little nervous. I realize that many people hold themselves back from living the lives they want to be living because they’re afraid, afraid of failing, afraid of getting lost along the way, afraid of doing it alone. What I’m most afraid of is passing up an opportunity because I was afraid, because I was uncertain and let that uncertainty shake me. Earlier this summer this meant swallowing my fear, getting into my car, and driving the 14 hours it takes to get home all by myself. I didn’t tell anyone how nervous I was, I didn’t tell anyone I was afraid, but I was terrified. What if I get lost? What if I break down? What if I get snatched at a gas station and no one ever sees me again? What if? What if? What if.
I swallowed all of those what ifs and I drove. And then I got a flat tire. And then I broke down on the side of the road with a crack in my radiator and steam pouring from my hood. And then I listened to an old lady tell me a story about a girl my age who broke down on the side of the road and was raped and murdered by a trucker. But the flat tire got plugged, the radiator got patched, I did not encounter a single unfriendly trucker, and I learned that all of those things I was afraid of, while they were indeed valid fears, were not enough cause to prevent me from going.
Today marks another personal milestone for me as I am sitting in the Columbus airport just outside of my gate waiting to board a plane and fly to a place I’ve never been to, by myself. It certainly helps that a friendly face will be awaiting my arrival in Portland, Oregon but the lingering nerves of flying, being alone, navigating airports and security, layovers, luggage, and strangers all creates this dense storm of panic and excitement somewhere deep in my stomach. What if I get lost? What if I miss my layover? What if something happens? What if? What If? What if. But i’ll swallow all of those what ifs just like always, I’ll deal with any disaster with a cool head. And when all of this is over I’ll look back at my nervousness with a smile, and then face whatever my next challenge may be.