I sat in the chair tears stinging my eyes. I wouldn’t cry; there was no reason to be afraid. But I was so afraid. My boyfriend had kissed me goodbye at the security check point. They had patted me down and sent me out to the crowd of people looking for their gates. The large windows let in no sunlight; it was too early in the morning. I was all alone. I was about to go to a big city by myself. To do that, I would have to step on a plane for the first time.
I am introverted but I do not like to experience adventures by myself. I like to have a hand to hold and to share those experiences with my loved ones. When I first received the invitation to participate in Kidney Action Day, I was terrified. I almost turned it down. But I was able to convince myself that it would not be anywhere near as scary as thought and that I would be glad I went.
So at 4:45 am on that Tuesday, I got a breakfast bagel and took something for my anxiety. I snapped a picture of Grumpy Cat saying how much she hates airports. Security hadn’t even been that bad. But I couldn’t shake the nervousness. I said a prayer for peace and just sat back. The overhead system played a song that I loved and held a lot of meaning to me personally. It was Mandy Moore’s “Extraordinary.” I closed my eyes and let the words sink in: “now I’m ready to be extraordinary.” And I was.
After that my anxiety was gone. I was a little disconcerted for the takeoff on the flight but I quickly learned that flying was no big thing. It wasn’t like everyone had told me nor was it like what I had seen on TV or in the movies. I was in a way smaller plane that moved a lot but not so much it was scary. I did not have a good experience with my change over in Charlotte but I made my connection flight and my luggage got where it was supposed to be. Score!
I didn’t have to worry about being alone in Washington DC. The American Kidney Fund made sure I had driver who helped me get from the airport to the hotel and any other travel arrangements I needed. The schedule was so packed that I didn’t have much time to be alone. Between training, Action Day on the Hill and interviews, I had very little time in my suite. But the suite was so nice it was like home away from home. I made my tea soaked in the tub and snuggled up in my big ol’ bed.
During the Action Day I had a chaperon who made sure I got where I needed to be and made sure I said what I needed to say. I had meals with the other advocates learning each one’s stories. I marveled at the snow studded sights of Dc including the National Mall, the Capitol and senate buildings and the Supreme Court. It was powerful to see these places in person, places I had seen on TV or in video games. I was in awe.
I had been right the entire time. It would not be as scary as I was imagining and it was totally worth the trips. By being Radical, I was truly being extraordinary.