DisclaimerI wrote this about a month ago, when everything was a little bit different. While the contents of this blog are the same as they have been, there was a small period of time where I felt that maybe fear would interfere with my trip. In that, I want to say that what is represented here is what it true for me, and is definitely not necessarily true for anyone else. It is my highest hope that all who read this understand that I am in no way trying to challenge or offend anyone else’s decisions, and that, in fact, I  very much so respect them. But, this is what has pushed me forward on my journey and what I think accurately depicts where I am now. So-

Going to Senegal means a lot of really amazing, ridiculously exciting things for me. It means traveling to a culture where peace and presence are of utmost importance. It means leaving my comfort zones and really stretching my boundaries. It means challenging myself to open up and blossom into who I aim to be.

But it also means fear.

Fear that I won’t succeed. Fear of being lonely. Fear of language gaps and the stigmas that go with taking a bridge year.

While I know that I was selected to be a part of this program for a reason, and that I am confident I will grow and change in incredible, unforeseeable, life-altering ways—- a part of me cannot chase away at least a little bit of fear.

I know that a small portion of fear is healthy. It means my body is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Acknowledging my fears means that I am embracing the aspects of this journey that can be dangerous and demanding— and that I am getting ready to face those aspects now, while I am feeling sound in myself and my surroundings.

In a funny twist, dealing with other’s fear for my journey has actually helped me to relax away from my own. It reminds me that fear is normal and that often times it can be the most harmful part of any venture. Fear can blind you and make you weak to what you actually face.

Lately with my parents, my siblings, my friends- I am being bombarded with fear about my leaving. Fear of growing up and moving on— fear of Ebola and of the unknown.

Thank you for that love and for the worry for my safety and happiness. But I am realizing that to become who I want to be, I have to face these fears. Canceling my trip because of Ebola or scary bugs or the 6,200 miles between me and home, well it wouldn’t make me stronger or happier….or really anything besides afraid.

And I cannot live in fear—-

So “Bon Voyage!”

And Senegal here I come.