If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’ll never be someone’s airport crush.
I’m a frantic, last-minute packer. I procrastinate until the night before, stay up all night and have my bags packed just in time for my ride to the airport. And as you may have guessed, I never look good in the airport. Today, I’m sitting in South Korea’s Incheon International Airport with uncombed hair, a random pair of shorts and bags under my eyes.
I get plenty of comments about my packing habits: my dad in particular dislikes them, and my Georgetown roommate always pokes fun at me. This trip was no exception. Yesterday, before my flight, I called a friend as a distraction — yet another form of procrastination. She scolded me and forced me to pack while we were talking. Nobody really sees the benefits of last-minute packing, including me. If you asked me why I procrastinate, I wouldn’t have an answer.
That is, until today. So bear with me as I try to defend my horrible packing habits.
This summer, I’m going on a month-long trip through Europe. The problem is I’ve never even set foot on the continent, nor have I solo-traveled abroad. Yet, here I am, throwing my introverted self outside of my comfort zone. It’s just like entering my first year at Georgetown University again. I feel the same nerves and anxiety brewing in me.
I can tell my friends and family, especially my dad, are excited for me. As a kid, he told me stories about his solo adventures during college — whether that be meeting people at Machu Picchu or nearly being pickpocketed in Paris. I could tell that he truly enjoyed telling these stories and that these trips were the highlights of his youth. He relished being abroad with strangers, striking up conversations and exploring strange lands.
As many parents do, my dad sees a younger version of himself in me, ready to explore and tackle the world. But I may not be the charismatic, outgoing youngster he once was: I’m afraid that I won’t make friends, or worse, that I’ll spend the entire trip in solitude.
But communicating that I’m worried when everyone else around me is excited is a daunting task. I feel as if there are certain expectations for my summer vacation that limit me from truly expressing myself.
So, I turn to last-minute packing.
It’s a back-and-forth debate for every single trip I take — my nerves on one side saying, “I’m worried” and my rationality on the other telling me that it’s too late for second guessing because I have a flight to catch. For the first half of my all-nighter, my nerves win, and I delay packing as much as I possibly can. I think about everything that can go wrong — all the unfortunate possibilities, from losing a passport to not enjoying the trip as much as I expected. However, around 3 a.m., my rationality kicks in. I begin to remember the flight ticket I’ve already purchased and the lodging I’ve already booked. Then, the packing commences.
Now, as I sit at the airport writing this article, I feel the consequences of my procrastination. The all-nighter drained my energy to the point where I can no longer think about my worries or anxieties. I’m too tired, and my mind has stopped working — for better or for worse. In my case, I say for the better.
I’m in a unique moment of zen, a moment of clarity. I’m not overthinking or worrying. Instead, I’m simply anticipating my trip. I feel empowered and proud. I remind myself that I’m a grown-up, ready to do grown-up things. A tear forms in my eye, but I can’t remember why — I’m too tired to think. I owe all of this to my last-minute packing.
Alas, my flight to Rome is boarding. I have no clue how my trip will turn out, but I do know one thing: I’m definitely passing out once I find my seat.