“Journeys end in lovers meeting”- William Shakespeare
It was my first time in Africa, incidentally it was my first time outside Europe too. So unsurprisingly I was both a bundle of nerves and an excitable toddler who thinks they are ready to take on the world.
But let me take you back a step to where my journey really began because sometimes the journey is just as important as the arrival. And for this trip that was definitely the case.
September 2014 – Our school had sent us an email informing us of an upcoming meeting about World Challenge – an opportunity to do voluntary work, trek and relax in an exciting foreign country. My mother told me about it, expecting I would be desperate to go, but no instead I simply told her I wasn’t interested. Was this the truth?
No of course not. But I pretended it was. I went online and did some research. It was from there that the real deceit began…
- Participants should fundraise the money themselves – I won’t have enough time to do that amongst studying for my GCSEs
- 2-4 weeks in a foreign country – my parents won’t let me
- It will be a new, exciting and once in a lifetime experience – probably a waste of money, I could travel there myself when I’m older
I’m sure you can see how feeble my attempts at lying were. However, I stuck to these lies until the night before the meeting when a doubt crept into my mind. What if I could raise the money? What if my parents would let me go? What if I am missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity? So I confronted my mother, despite feeling rather foolish, and told her I wanted to go to the meeting.
We went, I was inspired, my parents said yes. And nearly two years later I have returned from the best two weeks of my life, having spent them exploring Morocco.
So what was the real reason I said no?
Simply: I was scared. I was scared of the unknown. It would be the longest I’d been away from home, the furthest I’d been away from home, the longest I’d have walked, the most responsibility I’d been given, all with people I may not really know. Yet it is because of these fears that came back an altered person.
I’m still shy with strangers, I still struggle to be a confident leader, I still suffer in hot weather. But I know I can succeed if I persevere.
Usually I, like almost every other human being on this planet, shy away from admitting I was wrong. But not this time. I know I was wrong to say no to the meeting. I know I was wrong to lie to myself. But most importantly I know I was wrong to not even try.
If an opportunity comes your way, don’t let fear stop you from making the most of life. Fear is only natural, but it shouldn’t control your decisions. I managed to overcome my fears and after an amazing adventure I have fallen in love with mountain walking, made new friends and have new aspirations for the future. All it took was the first step into the unknown.