Saturday, September 1, 2012

And the Countdown Begins...

Less than 4 weeks until I hop on a plane and begin my international adventure. So many thoughts have been going through my head, but the predominant thought has been, "Holy crap."

I found this picture on Facebook recently:

Yep. That pretty much sums things up. Everything about this trip has been outside my comfort zone, starting with the fundraising. I put that off for a few months because it terrified me. Sending out letters begging people for money? That was a level of exposure and vulnerability that afforded me daily anxiety for several weeks. But I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from my family and friends. Honestly (and I know this will sound sappy) every time I received a check in the mail, or a notification of a PayPal donation, or even a friendly and encouraging comment on Facebook, my eyes would well up with tears. Because there was so much anxiety surrounding the fundraising, every single positive response I got provided this rush of relief and overwhelming gratitude for the supportive and kind people I know. I'm not sure what I expected. I know nice people. But there was this fear that others would think less of me, would feel I was imposing on a relationship, or think various other negative things about me. So I can't express enough gratitude for every person who said a kind word to me about my trip, and especially to those who donated. This trip would not be happening without the generosity of my friends and family.

And now that the trip is rapidly approaching, I am starting to feel this fear of the unknown. I've always struggled with wanting to stay where it is comfortable. I might like the idea of something, but when it comes to actually executing it...well, that sounds scary and hard. And the closer I get to September 26th (the day my flight leaves, in case that wasn't obvious), the more aware I become of just how far outside my comfort zone this experience will be. I went to Canada once. That is the extent of my international travels. And here I am. On the brink of traveling to Tanzania. Alone.

But really, that is the point of the trip. To see something totally new, completely outside my realm of experience. To interact and learn about a new culture. To experience a way of living utterly different than what I have experienced. To have culture shock. And to provide service while I do it.

There is a line from a John Mayer song that I think I am finally beginning to understand. "Fear is a friend who's misunderstood." So whereas I try not to take counsel from my fears, I recognize that without fear, I would never know where my comfort zone is. I would not know how to challenge myself. My fears teach me about my limitations, so that  I can work to overcome them.

So stay-tuned. This blog will offer a first-hand account of The Adventures of Katy Overcoming Her Fears (some of them, at least), International Edition.

You know, in 4-ish weeks.