Those Not so Unfortunate Experiences

Ryan - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on March 2, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

When I was a freshman I signed up to be a member of a trip that would travel to Spain the summer after my sophomore year. At that time the trip was thirteen months in the future; far enough away for me to feel like it would always be a long way off. Sixth months later I was starting to have butterflies in my stomach. I really did not believe that I spoke Spanish well enough to spend two weeks in Spain; especially since the second week I would be living alone with a Spanish family. Time passed and that feeling in my stomach got bigger, but I would not allow myself to quit. I went to Spain and for the first week I had a great time touring the country but then the day came to meet my host family face-to-face. I had conversed with them by email several times before, but this was a whole different ballgame. I remember getting off the travel bus when my name was called and when I saw my host family I thought, “Who are these people?” The family before me was not the one I had corresponded with for the last few months. The previous family pulled out and this was a last second replacement. A few minutes later I was in a van with five people I had never met and the term “broken English” would be a generous description of their ability to speak in my native tongue. The next week was an experience, and to make a long story short I had a great time.

Those weeks in Spain I forced myself to do things I would not have done any other time, and I am a more complete person for it. Now that I am home I try to continue that trend. I finally understood that uncomfortable and new situations help a person grow and that was a key part in my parents’ philosophy of growing up. In years past I would refuse an invitation from a friend or acquaintance because their offer was something I did not want to try. If I did not like some event or activity I was not going to participate. It is obvious that many other teenagers have that same philosophy; however, exposing himself/herself to ideas and events is a key part to a person’s maturing process. Now, whenever a friend wants to do something or go somewhere I am always for it; because of that I have found myself in more miserable, awkward, and uncomfortable situations than ever before, and let me say that those have been some of my best memories.

Despite what some teenagers may think, the world is not out to get them and other people do not go out of their way to make life miserable. In this world of gratification, these same teenagers let what is popular or “fun” determine what they will do and often they refuse new opportunities that lay before them. Part of maturing is the experiences a person has along the way, and if someone denies himself/herself of an event, be it good or bad, he/she will have lost an opportunity to grow. Suffering through a miserable, awkward, or uncomfortable experience will make you that much better for experiencing it in the first place.