"Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that's
the one that is going to require the most from you."
- Caroline Myss
One year ago today I was already setting off while those familiar warm fuzzy stomach jitters were setting in, Wenatchee to Seattle, Seattle to New York, New York to Jo-burg, Jo-burg to Lilongwe. I landed 48 hours later disoriented sweaty confused with no luggage to call my own. The birth of Malawi to my life was a groggy moment, with a weary heart and heavy eyelids my mind was racing to understand the local cyclist racing past the car with loads (i.e. goats rodeo tied with their heads bobbing up and down on the bike rack) heavier and higher than the bike and cyclist combined, mud huts with grass thatched roofs, cars driving on the "wrong" side of road (are we going to wreck?!? does this guy know how to drive?) - it felt like a surreal dream.
Peace Corps staff dropped me off at the hostel (called Korea Gardens. HUH? Where am I?) and said they'd see me in the morning. Alone exhausted disoriented I was left in a hot and murky cement block with a tiny window, this would be my new "home" for the 10 days of orientation. The bathroom was more like a mosquito breeding ground with a toilet in it. The hostel staff was yelling outside the window or maybe they were just talking I couldn't tell. I sat down on the foam pad bed staring at the whitewashed walls, sweat running down my body wondering what have I gotten myself into THIS time?
Two and a half weeks prior I was sitting on my bed in my big red barn in Arlington talking to my Mom on the phone, it was time to decide yes and give notice to work or say no and let it go. I was ready to let it go - it was too wild - not right - bad timing. But my Mom as she always is in these gut retching decisions I love to put myself in the middle of said, "why wouldn't you go?" so I gave all the typical answers and I said, "Maybe I'm saying from fear that it's not the right time. I almost said no to Ecuador out of fear and I know all the beauty that came from that decision" and she said, "there's your answer" and I (typical Alicia) said, "What? What's my answer?" "you have to go to Malawi to follow your fear".
And here I am a year later - Malawi wasn't an easy experience it demanded all of me - some days she demanded more that I thought I was capable of giving but from those sweet uncomfortable moments she has made me a more empathic, more vibrant, and vulnerable person.
I'm SO grateful for life - for open opportunities of new growth - for the privilege to have Malawi in my life - for a support network that let's me "figure it out" over and over again - for the chance to live a life that requires the most of me.
I hope that you too are following your fear!