Polite Questions lead to Nervous Breakdowns by Jessica Neidhart

I leave for Spain in four days and people keep asking me if I’m excited. Of course I am excited… I’m going to Spain! But, I’m nervous. So so so nervous. This response is usually followed by the next obvious small-talk-filler question, “Oh, what are you nervous about?”

Now I know that each person who asks me this question really does mean well. They aren’t trying to open up my Pandora’s box of worries about this trip; they are just being nice. But after they ask this fatal polite question, I can’t help but think “What do you mean, what am I nervous about?!” Then I proceed to list in my head all the things that I’m TRULY nervous about when it comes to this trip. I will include some of the more important ones here.

– What if I lose something really important? Like my plane ticket, my passport, my money, my life. I have already done this several times. Today, I moved from OU to my home in Beavercreek and I had convinced myself that I might have accidentally thrown away all of my important papers, including my passport. I didn’t but still, it was terrifying.

– What if my host family is weird? Not that my family doesn’t have its quirks but I don’t want to feel even weirder than I already do about living in someone else’s house in another country with a language barrier issue.

– What if I forget all the Spanish that I ever knew and I just look like a complete idiot? Now I know that this my seem a little harsh and irrational, but you never really know. It could be possible.

– What if I get sick and die? What happens to my body? Will it cost my parents a lot to get me  back to Beavercreek? I think about this.

– What if I get lost? This is seriously one of my biggest fears. It is like a nightmare that haunts me all the time, getting lost in a foreign country with a severe lack of knowledge of how to be found. Scary things happen to lost people.

– What if my plane has some sort of failure and I end up on an island somewhere with all the people on the plane and the only thing we have to eat is each other? I have already come up with my game plan in this situation. I decided I will sacrifice myself so that I don’t have to eat people meat.  Unless of course, I am already hungry when the plane crashes. Then I will have to be like Jack from Lord of the Flies and conquer, despite my lack of innate cruelty.

– What if I get hit by a car? I have seen how they drive and this is a legitimate concern.

– What if there is no coffee? I have heard such rumors. I have no other words.

– What if I run out of money? What if I starve? What if I miss my flight and am stuck there forever?  What if I fail my classes? What if I embarrass myself in front of my host family and then they grow to hate me? What if I hurt myself? What if I don’t learn as much as I want? What if I can’t find any souvenirs? What if people hate their souvenir? What if… what if…what if?

So naturally, all of this runs through my overactive mind as I’m trying really hard to focus on WHAT particular thing I want to express to them. I try and try and try and before I finish exhaling the inevitable sigh that I’ve let out in order to buy myself a few seconds in order to choose a topic, I have already blurted out…

“Oh you know, the unknown.” Then I calmly smile and walk away.


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