One week from today I will be departing for Mexico City! This summer has flown by and now I feel I’m scrambling to make final preparations to leave. This week has produced feelings of anxiety, excitement, fear, and freshness as I anticipate to begin an entirely new experience. Although anxiety and fear are the most dominant feelings in the mix right now, I look to this quote for solace…
It is the attitude we have at the start
That conditions the whole journey.
When we decide to go somewhere,
Regardless of the length of the trip and what it entails,
We go, we face it, because we decided to go with all our heart.
It is the attitude we have in this present moment
That determines our life to come.
This has me thinking about a few specific instances in my life where I have been on a brand new journey outside the US. The first was a 3-week service trip to Ecuador, and I approached this trip with so much excitement and enthusiasm about visiting another country. During the trip I had my first taste of homesickness, culture shock, language barriers, and lack of communication with family and friends. Experiences abroad are unforgettable, but they are also challenging. I approached my next trip, 4 months in Granada, Spain, with a little more apprehension, preparation and equal amounts of enthusiasm. My study abroad opportunity in Spain was incredible, but I had still underestimated the glorious discomfort of adjusting to a completely new culture and way of life. I loved being pushed out of my comfort zone and seeing the personal growth and independence associated with living in another country, but it took some struggles and challenges to get there. Now that I have had those two experiences, I was feeling rather gun-shy about the upcoming trip to Mexico. Instead of excitement and adrenaline, I felt anxious and worried about adjusting to the language, finding a place to live, and worrying about future schoolwork; all of which I have very little control of right now. “Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy”. Worrying doesn’t give me any more control over these situations, but what I do have control over is my attitude right now and forever more. I realize now that all I can do is to go and to face this experience with all of my heart.
Whether it be a new country, city, job, relationship, season, semester at school, or entree at a restaurant, I hope we can go and face each opportunity with an attitude as Dharma suggests.