Twenty-year-old Abigail Johnson finished her sophomore year at Anderson University by traveling with 11 fellow students on a 10-day hike in Ireland. She is an English and history double major who relished experiencing the land of Irish novelists Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, in addition to being served personal pots of steaming black Irish tea. This is just a wee bit of Abby’s journey shared for the Daily Journal.
There is an anticipatory anxiety that accompanies the act of leaving, whether you’re leaving home for the first time or leaving the country for the first time.
This anxiety is only magnified by the commitment to do something you have never done before. For me this commitment involved paying a small fortune to backpack the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland without any backpacking experience or backpacking supplies.
There was no promise that this trip would be comfortable, in fact, there was almost a guarantee that it would be uncomfortable, physically painful and emotionally challenging. However, discomfort can be both an act of worship and an act of growth.
So I committed to what I knew would be difficult and strenuous and entirely engaging both spiritually and physically.
We started in the small town of Tralee, a quiet but bustling few blocks with friendly locals and its fair share of home-owned bakeries.
The next day we started hiking only to discover seven miles into our uphill walk on cement roads that we were going in the wrong direction. With the help of a friendly hostel owner, a bus, a taxi and an intentional attempt to remain positive, our group ended up right where we needed to be when we needed to be there.
This is the kind of provision that appeared throughout our trip. Provision appeared in a friendly local who gave us a tour of Dublin for free, in seven days of sunshine in one of the most notoriously rainy places, in an allergic reaction that happened only when we were close enough to civilization to get treatment, and in our bodies’ ability to hike from eight to 15 miles a day with 30 to 40 pounds on our backs.
All of these things together, both the good, the bad and the complex, were what allowed us to see the coast from the second tallest mountain in Ireland.
This is what leaving home and stepping into a reverential discomfort can create: a mountaintop experience that reminds you that you are both small and important.