August 10, 2015

Chasing the Thrill of Being (the good kind of) Nervous.

Girl 2I watched my feet cross the small gap between the gangway and the plane. Something about that moment sent a flutter through my body—the nervous thrill of the unexpected was upon me.

I looked down at my boarding pass to confirm my seat—16A. I slowly moving down the aisle looking at the faces of other people. I glanced at my tennis shoes and over my shoulder—it was just me going on this adventure. I took off my backpack and as I turned to lift it into the overhead bin I wondered how I would live my life out of this pack for the next unknown amount of time.

I heard the gentle ding of the flight attendant’s intercom. I glanced out the window at the sun-kissed clouds trying to imagine the adventure ahead. A flush of the unknown ran through my body and a smile surfaced on my face as I took a deep breath, committing the moment to memory.

The year to follow would introduce to me to the thrill of being a good kind of nervous.

I was 23 at the time and I learned so much about myself from that year.

I became acquainted with my own strength.

I moved in with a German family and took on the responsibility of being their nanny.

I experienced dark moments of isolation and was occasionally homesick for American comforts. There were moments of loneliness and moments of pondering what the heck I was doing there.

But I learned to rely on and trust myself.

I tasted some of the most amazing food.

I experienced amazing, unique and downright strange meals. One of the most memorable of which was the first time I had homemade rouladen—beef, mustard, pickles, sauerkraut, dumpling potatoes—and my mouth waters at the thought.

I was introduced to foods I didn’t like (and couldn’t understand why people ate them). Then there were new foods that I still crave all the time.

I talked with the most interesting people.

I was standing outside of an Irish pub in Dublin when an older gentleman asked me for a light for his cigarette. He noticed I was not from Ireland and took on the task of explaining the history of Dublin to me. I took to heart his suggestion to get down to the open water, which led me to a view I will never forget. His rambling voice was with me while I stood there alone.

I breathed some of the hottest, coldest, most dirty and crisp air.

I walked the streets of Marrakech during Ramadan, too hot to think yet still able to feel how much colder the air I was breathing out of my body was than that of the air.

I held a hot cup of Gluhwein in a Christmas market in Belgium.

I walked out of a hotel in Cairo and breathed in tear gas as the remnants of the protests the night before.

I stood at the top of the Alps sucking in air that seemed yet to be breathed by any man before me.

I laughed with people I could barely communicate with due to a language barrier. I lost—and found—my sense of direction (and adventure). I really pushed myself not to say ‘no’ to any experience that I was presented with.

I traveled with a perfect stranger.

We had a mutual friend, but beyond that and an S bahn (metro) stop in Berlin, we knew absolutely nothing about each other. His interest in history had me fascinated. His knowledge brought things to light that may have passed me by. Traveling with a stranger really taught me to constantly put myself in another person’s shoes.

I also traveled alone.

On one of my getaways from being a nanny I headed to Berlin, Drezden, Lepzig and left some time to explore other parts of eastern Germany. Traveling alone pushed me to make a decision about what it was that I truly wanted to do—there is no one expecting anything of you. I found, met and cried with family I hardly knew existed. I drank beer at Oktoberfest and watched the sunrise in Prague.

All of this happened because of those initial moments of chasing that feeling of being nervous. This feeling defined my entire trip. I felt like what I was doing had so much meaning, and I still crave that feeling to this day.

I still find it, and I hope I can continue to find it for the rest of my life. That nervous flush often starts out feeling like panic or discomfort, but I’m always quick to realize it’s the good-rush feeling that I crave.

When I feel it, I cycle through my senses and find something for each sense in that moment. It also gives me the opportunity to travel back and relive those thrilling moments, like this:

As I stood in Gibraltar at one of its highest points, I reflected on my senses intake list.

I could see Africa across water, Morocco more specifically. I could smell the salty water as the wind pushed it up the rock face.  I could taste the crisp cider that passed my lips as a reward for the journey up. I could hear the chatter of the crazy monkeys running around snatching anything they could find, and I could feel the warm sun,that was allowing the breeze to be welcoming against my skin.


Relephant Read:  

Dare to Live an Adventurous Life.


Author: Brook Bentley

Assistant Editor: Carlotta Luis/ Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Flickr/Kasia

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