My breath caught in small bursts, my chest tightened, blood rushed to my head and I could feel my eyes stinging with tears. “What is happening?,” I thought. “Why is this my reaction to something that’s supposed to be an exciting adventure?”
My friend Tessy lives in India, and last fall I’d decided I was finally going to buy a ticket to visit the following spring. It was something we’d been talking about for years, but in the months leading up to the trip some bizarre anxiety set in, and it only grew as my departure date inched closer. At first I thought it was because of issues with my visa. That stuff is stressful, so naturally I’d have some anxiety until it was all ironed out, right? Well then it was all ironed out. And the anxiety persisted. It was a palpable, raw and baffling.
That night as I stood in my kitchen, racked with doubt, I realized that my worries were rooted in other people’s fears. Everyone has something to say when you’re doing anything a little out of the ordinary. For example, when I quit my fulltime job in the town where I grew up to move to a city where I knew a handful of people and didn’t have any source of income, some people thought I was crazy. A couple even told me so. And I decided not to care. This was what I’d set my mind to. I never want to ask “what-if” or let fear stand in the way of a grand adventure, so if I set my mind to something, I did it, no permission necessary.
But somehow, with this trip to Delhi, I’d bothered to care what they thought. The strong-willed girl with the adventurous spirit had been buried by a deadly combination of fear, frustration and heartbreak, and I didn’t recognize the anxious woman who’d replaced her. This new person let the comments about how far it was to travel for a week and doubts about having time to enjoy such a big city in a small window of time take root. I started questioning why I hadn’t planned this better, maybe I needed more time and money to truly enjoy myself. Maybe this was a giant, expensive mistake.
Thank goodness I was able to silence the anxiety and doubt. When I first bought my ticket to India I thought I would return with a few fun trinkets, some amazing pictures and a ton of unforgettable memories with a dear friend. Don’t get me wrong, I did come back with all of that. But I also returned with some priceless reminders.
Delhi reminded me that there’s so much of the world to explore. It reminded me that life is colorful and fun and silly at times and that not having plans is sometimes the best plan.
It reminded me that adventure can be found anywhere and that the beauty is in the details. All you have to do is look up, stop and capture the moment.
It reminded me that different is good, that your preconceived notions are at least somewhat misplaced and that there is wisdom to be gleaned from others’ experiences.
It reminded me to soak in every second, savor every bite and take advantage of every experience you’re given. To not watch the clock or focus on the time you don’t have, but to maximize the time you do.
It reminded me of the importance of community and family, whether by blood or choice.
It reminded me that I’m creative, that travel brings me alive and I can’t afford to box that side of myself up until the next time I have money for a plane ticket. It reminded me that I’m the girl who escapes to India for a week because she can, permission does not have to be granted.
My trip to Delhi was beautiful and fun and an adventure I’ll never forget with one of my favorite people. But it was also full of timely reminders. I didn’t realize it until weeks after I’d returned, but Delhi helped rid me of some anxiety. It reawakened my adventurous spirit, and a week is plenty of time for that.