Going for that cookie

December 28, 2017

in Academic Year 2017-2018, Erik Helm, France, Spring 2018

When I was young, I remember one time where it was just me and my dad for dinner, an oddity considering there was five of us at the time. I don’t remember what we ate, but I remember after I was done I wanted a bag of cookies, and decided to grab them out of the pantry when my dad wasn’t looking.

He got up to go to the bathroom, and I saw my chance. With all the grace and speed of a twelve-year-old (which isn’t much, I promise), I cleared my plate and grabbed the bag. With those delicious peanut butter cookies in hand, I started my descent to the basement but was a step too late as my dad stepped out and caught me red-handed.

“What you got there?” he asked, with which I responded a little too quickly, “nothing.”

“I don’t care if you’re still hungry bud,” he said. “But be honest with me.”

Maybe it was the embarrassment of being caught, maybe it was that I really like cookies, maybe it’s because kids just remember the most random things, but that’s always stuck with. No matter what, just be honest. And now, as I get ready to embark on a semester-long journey to France, I’ve got to be honest:

I’m terrified right now.

Like, “stay up at night thinking about it” terrified. “Flashbacks to freshman year when I couldn’t sleep that first week because I was in a new environment with no friends” terrified. “Being caught with cookies in your hand” terrified.

Technically, I’ve been studying French for 10 years now, starting in sixth grade. But I’ve never had much confidence in my knowledge of the language, and I feel woefully unprepared to sit through history lectures in a foreign language.

I’ve always considered myself a shy person, and recently I’ve found myself dealing with anxiety that gets worse in new environments around people I don’t know very well.

But at the same time, it’s also “interviewing for your dream job” terrified. It’s “first date with that cute girl in your math class” terrified. It’s “being offered an unfamiliar cookie” terrified.

We all know the feeling. The fears are there, sure, but much stronger is the excitement of what might turn out to be the best decision of your life. In the end, I have no doubts in my mind that I’m embarking on a journey that will force me to grow as a person and learn who I am.

Right now, I can see that cookie across the room, and I’m making a beeline for it. I don’t know what’s in it, it could be disgusting, but everybody who has had one has told me their first bite was the best decision of their life.

Regardless of what it tastes like, I’ve got to believe those with more experience and take that first bite so I can find out for myself.

Even if I am scared.

Kim Easley January 7, 2018 at 4:34 pm

You are going to do beautifully. I know…I was your French teacher for three out of four years in high school and you have always been (and done) better than you thought. I am proud of the steps you are taking out of your comfort zone. You will have many grand adventures that will inform the decisions you make and the life you will lead. Bravo et bon courage! (I thought your post was very well-written – I could see and feel what you were writing about.)

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