In a few of the group’s reflection sessions, the casual question came up: What is your biggest fear? Since I am a naturally timid person, a plethora of horrors popped into my mind: the dark, bugs, deep water, loneliness, humiliation, failure, death, and so on. I realized my fears have often kept me sheltered and afraid to venture out, to try new things. I also concluded that my biggest fear, and possibly the most universal fear is of the unknown.
Not knowing if there’s something out there hidden in the masking darkness, not knowing how harmful those prickly insects that hop on you are, not knowing if you’d sink down uncontrollably in the water, if people would want to be with you, if you’d be laughed at, if you’d succeed, and not knowing what tomorrow would bring. The fact that we can’t control what happens to ourselves is probably the most terrifying notion.I came into this trip prepared for a change. Although I jump into the lake still with a safety jacket on, although I sometimes still shriek when a bug lands on me, and although I still ask someone to guide me when we walk to the narrow dock when it’s pitch black out, I can feel my phobia diminishing.
Familiarity ameliorates fear– coming on this trip exposed me to many unexplored experiences. Taking the step outside my comfort zone was hard, but there’s no way to soothe terror except to become more accustomed to the initially foreign situations. Having people to encourage me to join them on their swim, to assure that everything is innocuous and that the bugs won’t crawl up my shirt if I just flick them off has immensely contributed to my growth. Each of them is a support beam building my courage up. Their bravery and enthusiastic urges (though bordering peer pressure…) inspire me to trek into new places and do things I’ve never done before. In Nicaragua, I learned to conquer cowardice.Maybe I’ll go back to my secure ways of living when I return to my familiar setting. Or perhaps I’ll start to take more risks, to explore despite my fear.All I know is in these few weeks, my biggest fear is having to say farewell to the amazing times I had and the diversity in Nicaragua.