Yikes! Only ten more days! Ten more days on Canadian soil before Ryan and I hop on an airplane and begin our (roughly) 30-hour journey to Kigali, Rwanda! I can hardly believe how quickly it is coming up… and even more the point, I can hardly believe that I haven’t started packing or even making lists yet!
But beyond the practical stuff, my mind has mainly been on how I will handle and navigate my anxiety while travelling. To be clear, I actually LOVE travelling. It is one of my greatest passions in life. Furthermore, I have travelled to Africa on three other occasions—and had great experiences—so there is definitely some relief in the knowledge that I have done this before. Still, I am acutely aware of the fact that my mental health is in a very different place than it was during any of my previous excursions.
In some ways this scares me. In some ways I feel more vulnerable going into this venture than I have ever felt leading up to major trip before. But on the other hand, I feel like I am at an advantage. The self-discovery and growth that I have experienced over the past two and a half months through my Braver Than Before journey have been invaluable. I feel like I know myself better than I have in years, and I am learning to approach life with a renewed sense of grace, patience, gratitude, and peace. These will be incredible assets to take with me on this voyage to the other side of the world.
Recently I have re-read some of my journals from past travels, and it is easy to see where anxiety and intrusive thoughts slipped in and robbed me of my joy and made me miss out on various aspects of the travel experience. At the time, I didn’t realize that these were symptoms of underlying mental health concerns that weren’t being addressed. As a result, I would just get down on myself and beat myself up for having such struggles, rather than dealing with the issues accordingly.
My advantage, this time, is that I know what’s going on. I know myself. I know my anxiety. I have called it what it is and have been working through it with great intention and determination. When I experience anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or irrational fears this time, I will be able to name them for what they are and look to the strategies I have learned over the past few months to help me cope. And who knows, maybe I will even learn some new strategies!
Some of the greatest revelations of my life have taken place abroad. There truly is nothing quite like experiencing another part of the world and being immersed in a culture that is not your own. Does it push you outside of your comfort zone? Oh my goodness, unnervingly so. But is it worth it? Without a doubt.
I am so excited to discover what God has in store for me on this upcoming trip. I know that I will have my anxious moments. I always do. But I feel ready. I feel confident. I feel like I can do this. Forget ten days. I want to leave tomorrow!