“Anxiety (n.): a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. A desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.” The aforementioned definition definitely seems compelling but that is not at all what I’m feeling. I am so incredibly excited for the journey ahead of me and I absolutely cannot believe I’ll be in Rome so soon! (57 days, 7 hours, and 51 minutes exactly if you were wondering, but I mean who is counting anyway)?
Okay, perhaps I am a little anxious…
The above definition of anxiety has more of a negative connotation, but I think the anxiety I feel has a certain kind of energizing quality to it—that anticipatory energy you feel when you know something exciting is about to happen. The anxiety I have is reminiscent of the butterflies you get in your stomach when you realize you’re venturing to a new place with new sights and new people—and specifically abandoning a space you just became comfortable in.
The truth of the matter is—Rome will be tough. I am venturing to a country where the language of choice is one with which my tongue is unacquainted. I’ll be trying new foods, seeing new places, and meeting new people. I may be meeting folks who are unfamiliar with my background in general as an American. I also may be meeting folks who have never spoken to someone who looks like me, who loves like me, and who lives like me. That’s a big part of the anxiety for sure. However, some of my anxiety is less taxing— I will be meeting folks who are excited to learn about my background, my life, the perspectives I have to offer, and the memories I’ve made thus far. Most importantly however, I’ll be meeting folks whose perspectives, questions, and experiences will inevitably shape me and change my life. So, sure, I have some feelings of unease about an imminent event, but I also feel prepared to dive in. In preparation for my journey, I want to share my extended packing list. These are the items I must have in my Extra Extra Carry-On:
- Splurge on a beautiful, personal moleskin notebook. Journaling every day is something I have decided to commit to while abroad—I want my experiences marked down in paper, so that I have physical evidence of the growth I hope to achieve.
- Over winter break, begin Cahleb’s version of Advanced Italian Studies—which in reality is just downloading a language app on my phone and learning some key words about ordering food, directions, and greetings in advance of my Italian language courses.
- Write a contract for myself. What do I want to get out of this trip? What am I promising to myself? What standards do I wish to hold myself to? What values am I packing in my suitcase on January 7th to accompany me to Rome? What tendencies, habits and beliefs am I potentially leaving behind or striving to challenge?
- Write a separate line on the contract which outlines my commitment to not just default to English, and also to especially avoid accidentally speaking French in stressful situations.
- A playlist of the songs my mom used to play for me when we were going through hard times—You Gotta Be by Des’ree, There’s Hope by Indie.Arie, and Perfect People by The Walls Group are at the top of the list.
- And finally, myself. My heart. My soul. My passions. My stories. Myself.
You absolutely cannot forget to pack yourself. A presto, Rome!