The first time that I ever left home to venture out on my own was way past that magical number eighteen that most of my teenage counterparts had used as their fast track to freedom. My parents had never been the type that said we had to be out of the house at eighteen; in fact, I think that if they had their way all of their children would still be at home today along with their spouses and childrenJ.
In my mother's culture children usually don't leave the home until college or marriage and if you aren't married after college most will usually end up coming home for a time. I was twenty-one when I left for a semester at BYU Nauvoo and I was petrified. Most people would see that as weak and me being way too old to be scared to leave home at twenty-one but my life, like all lives up until that point, had been filled with many ups and downs – an up being a genuine love for my family who were more my friends than anyone else and a down that weighed heavy on me being what had happened to me the last time I had left home as a child. I didn't know who I was without my family around and I didn't want to find out.
I laid my head in my mother's lap and cried with fear and pain and told her that I knew I couldn't do it, that I wouldn't be able to make friends, that I would become the failure I always thought I would end up as. My mother did what most mothers do at a time like that: she soothed my every fear. She reminded me of a clenched fist and how that had been a safety net for both me and my brothers all our growing up years – we only had to clench our fist and we would remember the love of our mother and father and know that in those moments of true loneliness and fear we are never truly alone.
That long night turned into many over the following months as I adjusted to life on my own and learned who I could be. Those four months became a turning point in my life – the blessings that have come from that choice are innumerable. I had the courage to serve a mission only because of that preparatory point in my life, my testimony of Jesus Christ and his restored gospel was fortified there and that has kept me off of the brink of inactivity many a time; I also finally began to give myself permission to find worth in myself, only because of that decision.
I thought about all of this last night, as I once again began to fear venturing out on my own. I was planning my first solo outing on a train trip to Venice, a preparatory trip to the twenty-one days in November that I will spend alone, and fear overcame me. It became the only thing I could see and the only voice that I could hear, until, from somewhere deep inside, I remembered a clenched fist and a mother calming her frightened adult daughter and I knew that what had been accomplished before could be accomplished again . . .
(pictures to come of that SOLO adventure and, by the way - - - what are you afraid of?)