(Mis)Adventures of an Anxious Grad Student: Kayaking

I am an incredibly anxious person.  For that reason, I tend to not try new things and do everything in my power to keep my feet firmly planted in my comfort zone.  Going to graduate school was a massive step out of my comfort zone; it was probably the most anxiety-producing decision I have ever made.  I had to move out of state to a place where I knew absolutely no one. A year has passed since my big move to Virginia for graduate school and I have found that I have been stepping outside my comfort zone (mostly due to coercion by my friends) much more often.  One of these instances was kayaking the Powhatan Creek.  When my friends started planning the excursion, I had a strong desire to go, but I felt extremely anxious.  What if I couldn’t keep up with everyone because I am completely devoid of upper body strength?  What if I get really unbalanced, tip, and then drown because I get stuck in the kayak or hit my head on a rock? What if there are spiders, snakes, or alligators? I think it is fair to say that a decent portion of my daily thinking is dominated by “what ifs”. I wanted to go and I couldn’t let the “what ifs” stop me.  I decided I needed to seize the day, carpe diem! Summer classes were wearing me out; I needed to engage in some self-care.  So I went.   My friends and I went and rented kayaks at EcoDiscovery Park.  I was still very anxious in the beginning.  To cover up my nerves, I cracked bad jokes when one of the employees was showing us how to kayak. It took me a quite a few paddles to get the hang of it.  On my incredible journey, I saw a giant osprey’s nest, lots of turtles, and some ducks. I also felt like an absolute beast because we ended up kayaking 6 miles (that is pretty amazing for me, because I am the opposite of athletic).  I thought we would just kayak a mile tops.  Nothing bad happened. For the most part, I kept up with my friends, I managed to not tip the kayak, and there weren’t any spiders or alligators.  My friends saw a snake, but thankfully I missed it.  It was all around a very pleasant experience and I hope to go kayaking again soon (maybe on the James River!). It is hands down one of my favorite memories of Summer 2014.  The beginning of graduate school was pretty rough for me, but so far it has been an adventure.