Tag Archives: Long-Distance Relationships

#FearlessFebruary: A Love Story

20 Feb
This month each and every one of your outreach facilitators was encouraged (well actually ordered by our boss….but lovingly so) to figure out a way to step outside our comfort zone, push our own limits, and to document our moments of bravery. This has been an interesting task so far.
It is difficult knowing what challenges you in the first place, but determining how far you are willing to go and evaluating what would be most meaningful for you are challenging tasks in themselves. Personal challenges are relative. And they are extremely personal. What may be completely off-the-wall to you may be commonplace to me. What may seem like my ultimate test of courage might seem like an average Wednesday to you. Challenges are completely unique to an individual—we all have our own definitions, limits, and abilities.

My personal challenge for #FearlessFebruary was an opportunity to explore my independence as well as my adventurous side. It was also an act of love. Let me note that as much as I would like to say I’m a spontaneous person, I have come to the conclusion that this is just not so. I need a plan. I like to know where I’m going. I like to know how things are doing to go down.  Who, what, when, where, and why—my life runs best on predetermined details.

That being said, having your partner in the U.S. Marine Corps throws a wrench in things. Your personal life suddenly becomes much more unpredictable. You don’t know when you will see them next, you don’t know where they will be in a few months, and you don’t know when they will be able to call you. It’s a lot of maybes, if-thens, and some-days. That’s why when I heard my boyfriend would have 72-hours of liberty for Presidents Day, I took action and booked a flight to Washington, D.C.

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My fearless moment was less about the action and more about mindset, attitude, and the willingness to hand the reins over to Fate. You now know that I’m not one to just buy a ticket on impulse. No, no—trips must be planned months ahead for my comfort level.  However, this time I would be taking off in a couple of weeks, landing in a city I have never been in, and having to find my way to the hotel (all by my lonesome!)

Now, my need for planning comes from my overactive imagination—I worry A LOT. So not so surprisingly, in flooded the anxiety the second after I booked my flight. I’m going to miss my transfer, I’m going to lose my suitcase, I’M going to get lost, they’re not going to let me check-in at the hotel, how do I even get a taxi? I was excited to see my marine, but the anxiety surrounding this trip was overwhelming. (For those of you who are pros at flying…well…I’m just a worrier, okay?!)

I arrived at the airport at the crack o’dawn Valentine’s Day morning and made my way through security—so far so good. I settled in my seat and closed my eyes for takeoff (I get very airsick, might I add).

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After a two-hour layover in Atlanta, I boarded my next flight. Again, so far I was doing a pretty good job keeping it together, being all adult and whatnot.

I arrived at last at the Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. quite pleased with myself. I had reached my destination fairly smoothly–nothing lost, including me–but now I had to navigate this unfamiliar city. I briefly had a moment of panic when deciding whether to call a cab or to figure out the Metro subway station, but then I remembered: this is a chance to be fearless. I think I’ll go on a subway adventure. I grabbed my suitcase and headed underground.

A little clueless, I stared at a map showing the different metro lines crisscrossing around the entire city and hesitantly identified which one looked closest to my destination. I climbed aboard and prayed I chose correctly. After zooming through a series of tunnels, stations, and bustling crowds of people, I eventually stepped out (and, to my surprise) just a block away from my hotel!

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My two-day trip in D.C. was wonderful. It was filled with snow, a long-awaited reunion, and national monuments that were larger than life. I have to say, seeing some of these memorials was kind of surreal. We’ve all seen Forrest Gump splashing through the National Mall’s Reflecting Pool (which was frozen), and The Capitol and Washington Monument are iconic structures to say the least. Seeing them in person is like coming upon a celebrity in their natural habitat. Slipping and sliding across frozen historical ground definitely makes for some interesting memories and there’s something about looking up at a gigantic, stoic President Lincoln that makes you feel a little small.

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I also found myself unusually reflective throughout my sightseeing. When you stand in front of the Vietnam War Memorial, you can see your own silhouette reflected against the black stone among thousands of fallen soldiers. The image alone is a poetic experience, but I found it eerily beautiful that as you run your fingers across their names etched in stone, you can see others’ handprints left behind. It was a reminder that acts of bravery are not only an opportunity to challenge yourself, but also to affect those around you. Every day is a chance to leave a legacy and every day is a an opportunity to be fearless. 

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Now, I’m not saying we all have to sign up for war. Each of us can find our own way of challenging ourselves and making an impact.

When my boyfriend first left for boot camp, I’ll admit, I didn’t understand. I was furious, confused, and scared. During his first visit back to Tucson, the sight of him in uniform terrified me because (guess what?) it meant a lot of uncertainty. What did this mean for us? How much would his choice affect our relationship? How far was I willing to go? I have done a lot of growing since then and have come to appreciate that he is carrying out his own fearless moments. He is challenging himself and, as his partner, I have to call upon my own strength to support that. We are entering our third year together and I still struggle with the pressures it puts on our relationship. But I have to say, it has shown me I can be brave. I have made it through emotional obstacles I never thought I would be able to handle and this new found courage continues to push me further. Even to jump on a plane without a plan.

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This trip was about much more than my anxieties around traveling. It was another step towards taking responsibility in how I want my life to pan out. I am learning that I don’t need to know everything in advance. I am learning that I can trust in what’s to come because I can take an active part in how it comes about. I have also learned that a little fear is good. It means you care and that something important to you is on the line. As a lifelong worrier, uncertainty has always been my enemy, but I have found that the intention behind each move you make tends to sway the odds in your favor. You can’t have the perfect plan, but you can have some say in a world of uncertainties. 
So, here’s to #FearlessFebruary! It was a reminder that being fearless doesn’t mean not being scared, it means taking action regardless.

–Franny

 

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