Sometimes, you have to jump.
Jump – before you think you’re able to run. Jump – before you’ve had time to calculate all the benefits and disadvantages, risks and consequences. Jump – before you know what exactly you’re jumping into.
This is a pretty accurate description of something I did this summer: the 2012 Amazing Race with Josiah Venture.
Over the course of three days, all of us Josiah Venture interns raced in a competition filled with lots of hilarious and complicated challenges. Between our starting location in Krakow, Poland (my new favorite city) and our final destination at Hotel Malenovice on the Eastern side of the Czech Republic, we sped around central Europe from morning til night, armed with what we could carry on our backs, clues we’d discover along the way, and, lets just say, a whole lots of chutzpa.
While some of my personal highlights from the race included learning and performing a traditional Polish dance, an eating competition … involving blood sausages, and this lovely fashion show pictured below, the most amazing part was seeing how far we came.
I’m not talking about distance, while that, I suppose, is somewhat remarkable, too. I’m talking about how far we came as teammates.
Before I started my adventure in the Czech Republic this summer, I didn’t know any of the interns from atom. In fact, I didn’t know very much about the current state of the Czech Republic and could barely pronounce the names of the towns where I would be helping lead camps (and who am I kidding, some I could definitely not pronounce).
On May 24, I hopped onto a plane and jumped into something I had never experienced and never imagined for myself. And while there were the added factors of teaching English for the first time and living in a culture I was completely unfamiliar with, the most unclear thing was how the dynamics of our team would play out.
My teammates and myself (Team Granola, as we were affectionately referred to) spent 89 days together. All day, every day.
Sometimes people who consider themselves best friends experience relationship turmoil when they travel together for the first time. Living so closely often reveals things about ourselves and others that we don’t notice in our daily lives – things that we aren’t too pleased with, or even disgusted by.
So when Team Granola embarked on the Amazing Race, we jumped into those next 72 hours hard and fast. But we jumped with Joy in our hearts. We weren’t skeptical. We didn’t doubt each other. We turned off the compulsion to think so logically and instead, trusted each other – with directions, knowing answers to tricky clues, and correctly memorizing lines in a Pope John Paul II speech.
When you travel, you have to be willing to go, to try new things. If you stay in your head so much that you don’t jump into another country’s customs, building relationships with others and being able to let go of your plans to embrace whatever comes your way, you miss out on the opportunity to explore and grow in who you are.
And who wouldn’t want that?
My advice – jump. Be willing to go.