The moment happened.
The moment when I let my emotions overcome me. I let my tears roll down my cheek. I tried to collect myself with no luck while wiping away my tears. I was crying hard, like ugly cry…hard. Even worse, in front of my students!
No, this sob-fest didn’t happen on top of top of Machu Picchu (even though I did shed a tear). Nor, did I breakdown when I rolled up my sleeves and worked beside the locals. No.
I broke down at the dinner table when posed the simple question, ‘What do you hope to get out of this trip?’ First, let me put this out there: our EF Tour Director, Jorge, was fantastic in all facets of his job, but even more-so pulling at the strings of our heart. He repeated to our students the line, “Not only open your eyes on this trip, but open your hearts” and it is now stuck in my heart.
With tears streaming down my cheeks and a smile out of the corner of my mouth, I opened my heart. With 17 pairs of eyes on me (remind you many were my students), I took off my armor, completely unguarded–vulnerable–and felt no shame (thank you Brené Brown!).
That night I opened my heart.
But…why did it take this long? Why did I feel the need to apologize for my tears? Why?
A million reasons flushed through my head, but it finally clicked when I came back to the states and I had some time to reflect. I’ve never truly opened my heart. Sure, I open my heart every day with my friends and family, students and co-workers. Yet, I never opened my heart so passionately that I let myself feel deep enough to allow tears to openly flow down my cheek.
My life-changing trip to the Incan world started with hopes of changing students lives. I smiled as I watched them try new things. I cringed as they dared more than I would have ever imagined. I cried (yes, more than once) as I witnessed them opening their hearts to new cultures, practices and a way of living.
I left the States hoping for what I always hope for: to gain new global citizens through our students; but, I (along with 16 other young adults and chaperones) came back with so much more.
Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself to truly open your hearts.