Today is July 1st and that means I have three days until I start my adventure in South Korea. I have never been a person who gets excited before a trip because I never liked the feeling of anticipation, but beneath my calmness are the inevitable nervous butterflies. There are countless moments when I wished for my butterflies to just fly free. Nevertheless, I have grown to befriend these butterflies, learning to embrace the feeling of fear. The most empowering and rewarding moments have been times when I refused to back down and accepted that I just needed to scream.
Just three weeks ago when my family was in Bahamas, my brother and I decided to get in line for the slide named Leap of Faith. It was an 80 foot steep drop. For the past two days I was fostering my courage and rallying myself to do this. This was not my first time at the resort and I had memories of walking the stairs with my dad and crying at the mouth of another slide too scared to go down. Finally, I had conquered all the other slides. All that was left was Leap of Faith. So as my brother and I ascended the stairs, my old friends, the butterflies, were back. I took a breath. I could do this I said. Nevertheless, I positioned myself so Justin was ahead of me encase I wanted to back out at the last minute. Finally, his turn was up and he just laid back and let go. I was absorbed in thought, doubting that I could go through with this. We were so high. A young Bahamian girl coordinating the ride, waved to me to step up. I looked at her sternly and asked “Have you been on this?” She laughed jubilantly and in a Caribbean accent said, “Oh no. I want to! But, I am still working up the courage.” In that moment I had decided I was going to do it repeating the lines of one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
I laid flat against the plastic board of the slide feeling the cascading water pressure hit me. I closed my eyes and crossed my arms and heard only the beating of my heart. I heard the girl say you can go and immediately I began screaming, “Oh my god, I’m going to die. Oh my god!” My screaming was interrupted with “You haven’t moved yet. You got this” the girl remarked, amused, but supportive. I peaked open with one eye and laughed. I was that scared that I had fooled myself. I closed my eyes again and this time I chose not to think and let the water push me forward and just continued to scream as loud as I could. Seconds later it was over and I felt exhilarated. I conquered the Leap of Faith. Behind me there were kids less than half my age, but it didn’t matter. I was proud.
So when people ask me if I am ready for Korea. I can say yes, not because I have finished packing or learned the language (because I haven’t) but because I am ready to go through life screaming. Ready to feel the rush of my butterflies and know that I am challenging myself and living out my fears.