Note: This blog was written during my time in Cape Town, however due to difficulties with adequate internet connection, it is now being posted.
Greetings from South Africa! From our cultural tour and NGO visits to the spending time in the South African wilderness, a lot has gone on within this one week of us being here. Below I will be reflecting mainly on my personal experience of the wilderness component of the course. We had the opportunity to spend 5 days in the Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve with the Educo Africa team as well as the South Africans we will be working with during our internships.
During our wilderness adventure I was part of Team Awesome; a group of 14 with a 50/50 mixture of us students and South Africans. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the wilderness. In addition to sleeping under the stars, I was able to engage in dialogue with our South African peers, form and deepen new relations, and do a lot of self-reflecting which happens to be one of my favorite pastimes. =)
Anyway, the wilderness was quite a different environment than what I am used to. There, I had no sense of time which made things much calmer. However, as one who actively struggles with anxiety, I still had to remind myself to slow down and breathe. This was particularly important during our evening/night hiking. Because of my anxiety, I do everything with a sense of urgency like it’s the most pressing thing I have to do before I run out of time. Slowing down and giving myself time to breathe allowed me to be more present as I was not fixated on what was next.
Along with working on slowing down, I took so much more away from the wilderness trip. I was able to connect with a group of amazing individuals I just met in a way I haven’t with anyone in a while. A connection that was so strong it felt like I knew them my whole life. Also, for the first time in a very long time, I was able to let go of the person people assumed me to be, the person I expected myself to be. I was simply able to just be my unrestricted and authentic self, fully present and open to the experience.
One of our solo exercises presented to us by our group facilitators asked us to reflect on what we are thankful/grateful for. I immediately knew the response to that question because it is something I am constantly thinking about. I am thankful for support. To give more context, I am thankful for the support I have received and continue to receive on my journey to self-actualization. This support for me occurs in various forms. One major form of support I receive is having individuals in my life who continually inspire, motivate, and challenge me. As a result, I am able to put forth my best effort which enables me to function to the best of my abilities.