Growing up in North Carolina, I was shy and my need to be perfect in everything I did made it difficult to connect with others. I always thought I had to be perfect: playing basketball, earning high grades, being the perfect daughter, etc. I feared how others would judge me so I rarely opened up to others. But traveling to London as a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow in the summer of 2017 was an opportunity for me to grow.
I always desired to travel abroad and learn how other people lived, to connect with experiences that differed from my own. Exploring the streets of London, visiting the peace walls in Northern Ireland, and learning about British culture with new students was fun and relaxing. I loved living each day with a singular purpose: enjoying life. In my new environment, I no longer felt suffocated by the desire to be perfect.
Leaving perfection behind, I finally had an opportunity to connect with others in sharing circles that were an important part of the program. Each day, we gathered together to reflect on our experiences. Through the collective sharing of our past struggles and privileges, we laughed and cried together, and I had a space to practice vulnerability and break down my walls.