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Trying things for the first time

4:13pm on Thursday 23rd November 2017

For some context, Rosie and I are just beginning a 7-week trip to South America. We've stopped off in Florida on the way.

One of the main reasons for anyone going on adventures is to try new things. This is something that has always been a big problem for me and anyone who knows me well could testify that my default state is to avoid new experiences. This strange phobia held me back in some ways for a lot of my childhood, causing me to lack independence and miss out on meeting new people and finding potential undiscovered passions. For example, it took me until the middle of winter in Reception to be persuaded to wear trousers instead of shorts at school (strictly no belts for another 6 or 7 years though); it took me until I had a school trip to Italy to muster the courage to try pizza for the first time (when I was 14!); and it took me until regular teasing at sixth form about my strange, creepy upper lip fuzz to start shaving. So this was obviously quite a big deal for me when deciding to go on this trip.

Looking back at those silly-sounding examples, I realise that much of my life was driven by fear of other people and happenings out of my control, rather than by my own level-headed choices. This is why the most important thing I took from my university experience was becoming more confident in myself and in the choices I make. For me, this trip is a culmination of that transformation: a proof that I'm becoming the proud person I was too scared to be as a child, to show that I don't need to wait for someone else to find something for me that I enjoy. And the elements of that proof make up the list of all the scary (and exciting) new things that I'll be doing over the next seven weeks.

I've already started working my way through that list. For starters, I had never been on a long-haul flight before now. My previous time-in-the-sky record of about 3 hours was smashed by the 10 hours aboard the "Dreamliner" from London to Florida, a plane which was nine seats wide and included cool rainbow-coloured mood lighting, food during the journey, and the most mediocre selection of movies and TV! The experience, though very long, was an exciting upgrade over the European flights I'm more used to.

Having watched the in-flight informational video on US immigration twice, we managed to enter Florida surprisingly swiftly. I received my first ever passport stamp, and experienced my first ever serious timezone shift. I had to pretend that 2:30am was actually 9:30pm, something which my body was quite confused by.

But this is just the beginning. As we meet new people and explore new places and do new things, I'll be reminded of how far I've come. The boy who was too scared to go on the America school trip in Year 11 is now walking down Miami Beach, and has just embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure involving pop tarts, mountains and llamas.



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