By: Kaitlyn Townsend-gray, AmeriCorps Member serving at City Year Little Rock
Recently, one of my 5th-grade students asked me what my greatest fear was. He was obviously expecting my answer to involve arachnids or small rodents. Taking a moment to contemplate the question, I realized those things were no longer scary to me. I have entered into my young adult life my fears have evolved. I’ve moved past a fear of heights and dark places and onto fears of failure and rejection.
The scariest thing I’ve ever done was boarding a plane from Baltimore, Maryland, to Little Rock, Arkansas. One-way ticket in hand, the only possessions I took with me were what I could fit into my largest suitcase. As I was about to go through the metal detectors at the airport I turned and stole one last glance at my mom. Suddenly I was riddled with doubt and fear. Why am I doing this? I can’t do this. Do I have to get on that plane?
Just when I was about to run back to my mother, I got this feeling in my stomach. It was like someone was punching me in the gut, , letting me know I had to get on the plane. That was my new friend gumption.
Once I boarded, I watched the sunrise through my window and was filled with the feeling that I could just burst. I did it! The hard part was over; I was on the plane. I had to go, now. Rather than doubt and fear, all that was left to do was to look ahead to the future and what this new year could hold for me at City Year.
One of the most amazing aspects of City Year is that every day you are thrown into situations you never could have imagined. It enables you to develop leadership and problem-solving skills. When I arrived at my City Year Little Rock, I didn’t have experience running an after-school program, planned a whole-school event, or written a lesson plan. Yes, those were all scary to me. Fear crept back into my mind. There were and are still days when sometimes I think I can’t do it.
Often, fear is what I feel holds people back from showing gumption and initiative. It’s difficult to put yourself on the line and pour your heart and soul into something and not necessarily receive the results you were hoping for. In the moments when I have an idea for a lesson plan or a behavior initiative that seem impossible and I contemplate finding an easier route, think back to that moment on the plane. I think back to the feeling of not knowing when I would be home again or not knowing what was waiting for me beyond the horizon. I think of all the good that’s happened to me since then and what my life would be like if I had ignored gumption and initiative. I think about all the students I never would have met, pictures that never would have been drawn for me, and the hugs I never would have received.
What do you think is the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Was it speaking in front of a large crowd? Facing a fear of heights? Starting a conversation with your role model? How were you able to get through those moments? Did you have friends and family supporting you along the way or did you take the plunge into the great beyond on your own? Most importantly, would you take any of those moments back?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” So far I’ve found that if I live by this motto I have more adventures and fewer regrets. And gumption and initiative? Well they are there for me every step of the way.
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