I am barreling toward Houston in a bullet with wings. Blue pleather seats and I’m flanked by sleeping strangers and friends, the in-flight movie flashing muted on the screen. Only an hour ago we squeezed through the aisles of this plane. Backpack straps pinched our palms, sleep-swollen bags heavied the corners our eyes. I read the questions on other passengers’ faces: “Who are they?” “Where are they going? For what?”
We knew last Wednesday when we began Fall Training that we would find ourselves here eventually. Though, maybe not with the perspectives we have now, or the not-so-easily answered questions bouncing through our heads, or the friendships we have gained.
I couldn’t have predicted how just these last 8 days have changed me. Suspended above the rest of the world I’ve tried to digest all of it and what it has meant to me. I’ve thought about the seminars on mindfulness, on impact, on what it means to be a community. But what I find myself coming back to, what has been the most valuable to me is learning to be uncomfortable.
Over the last couple of years since I graduated from high school I have created a life for myself. I have maintained friends, adopted routines, held a job and responsibilities. When I left for Global Citizen Year I was sure of myself. I had reached a point in my life where I was satisfied. I could have stayed where I was physically, mentally, emotionally for another couple of years and been okay with it.
When I hopped on that charter bus toward the Redwoods on that first day of Fall Training it was like starting over. I didn’t have that safety net. I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t an expert. I was just a kid with a little bit of my own life experience and no idea about what this adventure might look like. I was scared. I was scared to make a fool of myself, of not knowing enough or being enough. I had been an “adult” for so long that I had forgotten what it meant to be vulnerable, to throw myself into conversation with strangers, to raise my hand, to be wrong.
I’m riding that winged bullet now, headed toward Houston, headed toward Ecuador. I’m not sure what will happen there. To be honest, I’m still scared. And, I’m okay with that. I’m not afraid of falling on my face, I’m afraid of who I’ll be if I don’t.