My boarding time had inched close enough to the present that I began to sweat a little. It was only after I had to remove a pair of shoes from my oversized travel bag at the check-in counter that I became nervous.
“See, I told you taking out the boots would help cut enough weight,” my dad said as he grabbed the pair of shoes I removed from the large purple bag. I rolled my now 50-pound bag through that little section of the airport check-in counter. I just kept throwing in extra stuff that I thought I would need during the summer abroad without thinking about the overage charges. Nearly everything in my room was able to fit in that mobile monstrosity. I had just enough time to get rid of a perfectly good water bottle and take a deep breath before stepping into the back of the airport security line.
“Bye, Jasmine!” I turned to look at my parents and sister as they waved. They all continued to wave as I crept further up through the queue, and with every step, I had to fight back tears. When I couldn’t see them anymore, I let one of the tears struggling to seep out past my puffy eyes roll down my cheek. I was alone in the middle of LAX, about to live in a foreign country temporarily, and I was terrified.
I had always wanted to study abroad in Europe. I had secretly planned it long before I even applied to college, and was extremely grateful that I was able to go. I managed a way to get there and took the chance. However, just like the first day that I was left alone on my college campus, I ended up crying because I realized I knew absolutely no one and that I was completely on my own. I noticed the crowd around me and grew embarrassed as I wiped the tear that had escaped. However, looking back on it now, that day that I was left crying in the middle of an airport was the greatest moment of my life.
When I decided to go to Paris that same summer on my own, there were no tears. Despite not knowing the language, getting lost, waking up to a strange man staring at me on the train from Italy, and genuinely being frightened for my life on the cheap budget flight that next weekend, I knew that everything would most likely be okay. I had already gotten on a plane by myself to go to a foreign country earlier that summer.
When I was lost in the town of Pisa on my own and had to utilize my limited Spanish skills to ask an Italian man for directions, I felt like I would survive because I had already made it to Paris and met up with some new traveling friends. I figured that I could get through a strenuous hike over the islands of Cinque Terre with three other girls that I just met because I had managed to figure out how to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa on my own despite a language barrier. However, my reluctant confidence wouldn’t stay in Europe.
Going backpacking in the middle of the woods and sleeping under a tarp next to a dog? I had already hiked Cinque Terre with strangers. Climb several thousand feet to the top of a mountain by myself? I had already done it with a hiking group a year prior. My leaps of faith knew no bounds after assessing death’s risk because I had already done something seemingly insane the week before.
I fell into an adventurer’s trap and became conceptually unstoppable because I never wanted to be held back from doing something because of fear. I created my own monster because my fear of missing out was always greater than my fear of anything else thrown at me. If I wanted to do something, I would just do it. No one could ever tell me anything different, which always makes me wonder if that just paints me as a dangerous individual—a rogue weapon hell-bent on doing whatever she wanted whenever she felt like it. I actually kind of like the sound of that.