I would feel like a fraud if I posted about this wonderful adventure I am about to embark on without discussing the most difficult part: the anticipation and anxiety before leaving. Ever since I was young, I liked to challenge myself by going on adventures, but I usually suffer during the weeks before I leave for these amazing trips.
For this trip to Kenya, although I certainly have been nervous the past few days, I have been more successful at coming to terms with this nervous feeling. There are a few reasons why I think I have been slightly less on edge in advance of this trip.
1) I did not get my flight information until two days ago. The trip did not seem real for awhile so I was able to more easily just put off worrying about it. This was unfortunately accompanied by me wondering why I wasn’t worrying, am I sick? Who am I?
2) I have never doubted my decision to go. I absolutely know this is going to be an amazing experience and will change my life. It is rare for me to feel one hundred percent confident in a decision and it feels wonderful to be this sure of myself. Perhaps this saves me the energy of the “what if?” conversations in my brain.
3) I am genuinely excited for my trip. I have been in my comfort zone for too long and am ready to get out of it. I am prepared to welcome the uncomfortable feelings of being in a foreign place and dealing with daily challenges.
4) There is some comfort in my usual pre-trip routines. The most crucial of these is the CVS or Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BBB) run with my mom. Ever since I was eight and going away to sleep away camp we would go to CVS or BBB, and fill a cart with every type of band aid, Neosporin, Kleenex, sunscreen, bug spray, three types of hair ties, two types of stomach medicines, and every other item you can imagine. This routine often also included a trip to EMS or REI where a scruffy young man would discuss different types of flashlights or socks in such detail that we felt we absolutely had to buy one or I would not survive my trip. In anticipation of this trip, my mom came to visit and we went through these usual routines. I felt the typical nervous feeling, but in CVS as we weaved through the aisles my mom told me my motto was, “just keep going forward.”
5) My biggest realization was that this nervous feeling is certainly uncomfortable, but what is so bad about being uncomfortable? If I had a headache on and off for a few days it would not cause panic, so there is simply no need to react so strongly to this angst.
I have kept moving and here I am, less than twenty-four hours away from my departure and still holding it together (for the most part). The thing about the pre-trip anxiety is that nothing really makes it better, although I have a few techniques that help pause it. These include baths (my one fail proof way of comforting myself) and sometimes even with the addition of Sleepy-time bubble bath for babies. A relaxing neck pillow is a new tool I am trying (haven’t reached a verdict on it yet, but see picture of me trying it out below), and magazines (another way I can successfully turn off my brain). Most importantly trying to keep busy and accept the pre-adventure anxiety is probably the only way to keep moving forward. I know that this is the absolute worst part of the trip and as soon as I enter the airport and begin the adventure I will be okay. And as my sister told me, “even normal people feel this way,” so at least I know I am not alone
Pictures of my pre-departure survival guide: