Pushing through uncertainty is rewarding, even on vacation.
There are little lessons in every experience. Allow me to share some things I learned while almost missing out on a wonderful vacation in France.
Last summer, I went on a girls trip to France. We spent a few days in both Paris and St. Tropez. When I first got the invite I honestly thought it was not achievable for me to go. I didn’t know any French and I figured it would be out of my budget. I didn’t think I enjoyed French cuisine and my preconceived notion about the French is that they were rude. I also heard the toilets were not the move. Don’t think I can make this trip.
Then I started reading and researching. Turns out, while I should learn a bit of French (it’s a beautiful language), many people in France speak English. Moreover, there are incredible, must-see attractions in Paris. Funny enough, French cuisine was not what I thought it was AND the French have mastered one of my favorite food groups: WINE. One of my dream destination vacation spots is the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Why not enjoy a bit of the Mediterranean Sea, just a bit north in St. Tropez-which by the way is one of the most glitzy coast lines in the world. What’s not to love? I decided to RSVP to the girls trip-Step 1.
Still, I was nervous so the excuses kept coming. The longest flight I’d ever been on was about 4 hours. A flight to France would be double that. Not to mention, there is another flight from Paris to St. Tropez. How do you maneuver around a French airport? Is there a French TSA? So many concerns (read excuses). I booked both flights-Step 2.
Now I’m committed pretty deeply. No turning back right? Believe it or not, there were still times that I thought it would be worth losing the money I spent on the airfare if I needed to cancel. What was this about? Fear. Fear of going somewhere unfamiliar to me. I thought about the crime and the terrorist attacks. Was it really safe to go there? I had to remind myself that this fear of going to France was going to have me miss out on an incredible experience. In the United States, I’ve galavanted the streets of DC, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, etc. I know how to keep my head on the swivel. Why am I worried about Paris pickpockets or any other potential crime that also happens here in the United States all the time and I’m just fine?
Long story short, I worried literally to the moment it was time to board that Air France flight in JFK. This trip and just about every trip is an exercise in being uncertain and still moving forward. I boarded that flight-Step 3.
With incredible, accomplished women, I ate, drank, laughed, and played in the streets of Paris. I sunbathed, partied, and dined along the glistening blue waters of the French Riviera. There was no meal (or glass of wine/champagne) we did not enjoy. I have so many incredible memories and photos. One of my favorite days was just walking the street in St Tropez, checking out different boutiques and small cafes. We traveled around just fine (tuns out there is Uber in Paris lol). The airport to catch my flight from Paris to St. Tropez was a little tricky and I did fly alone. (Our group flight was cancelled the night before and we were redirected on other flights-talk about internal panic!) But I figured out enough that I managed to make it through security, find my gate and correct flight to St. Tropez (with pain au chocolat and cofè in tow!).
I was not perfect, still can’t speak French, and there were things lost in translation. Things still got figured out and nothing was the end of the world. To think I almost played myself out of such an experience due to worry blows my mind. Since taking this trip, when doubt and uncertainty creep in my mind, I remember all the thoughts that almost held me back from one of the best treats of my life. On the flight back, I took some time to reflect. I had an amazing time, but most notably, I learned somethings about myself. I went through some experiences that strengthened my perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness, and ability to overcome insecurities. For that I am so grateful.