Sunshine state of mind: Nervous anticipation


Stephanie Hempel, Columnist

I’ve been etching tiny tally marks into my spine counting down the endless months, endless weeks and endless days until my semester abroad trip to Greece finally begins. As it stands (Monday evening at 9:40 p.m.) I have five full days left in this country.

Wayne State family, friends and the greater unknown, if I told you that I wasn’t absolutely terrified, I’d be lying.

As anxiety-ridden as I am in general day to day life, the things that are supposed to cause my worry simply are not the things I’m worried about.

I don’t mind twiddling my thumbs on a massive aircraft humming John Denver for twelve plus hours. Surviving on the bare bones of my empty pockets with knowledge that I might run out of money in a foreign country doesn’t scare me, rather it wildly excites my imagination.

Acknowledging the possibility of the vast situations that could go wrong doesn’t cause me to lose any sleep at night, but telling me to carry all of the atoms in my being into a new universe and forcing me to rely on who I am and what I know of myself as a person, that is something that wakes me up at 3 a.m. a pile of balled nerves.

I grew up around women who didn’t compliment themselves, a town full of people who noticed your appearance before your mindset, obsessively comparing and contrasting social standing. “Believe in yourself” was nothing more than a series of bubble letters laminated on the poster beside the guidance counselor’s door.

No one ever taught me how to love myself. No one ever taught me how to believe that I could possibly have the nerve to work sixty hours a week for a series of several months, dusting book shelves and mending wounds, so that I, possibly one day, could spend three months living and learning on Greek beaches and backpacking across Europe. But here I am, throwing in my dust rag, and working one final overnight shift before I start packing my bags for Sunday morning.

I did it. So can you. I’d like to say that the best lessons are the ones you teach yourself, but it isn’t entirely true.

What would you know in the present without the harsh caress of the past? What would we know without other people? Next to nothing I’d imagine. We go through so many things that we do not understand until their purpose reveals itself at a later time.

As I am preparing for this grand venture, slowly the mountains of understanding are shaking underneath my core. The surface is revealing itself to me in a million different ways, and I feel the results of my purpose showering through. Although there are still doubts in my mind about this journey and putting complete faith in myself through the entire experience, something in my mind tells me that it is all going to be just fine.

My next few columns will be coming to you from Greece, and maybe I’ll find a new thread besides my typical self-love and discovery mumbo-jumbo. It has been an honor to write these, and, especially over the past year, they’ve done a lot more for my inner workings as a person than I could ever tell you about.

Thank you for reading.