Being selected as an educator for the PolarTrec program has honestly been a mess of emotions. At first, I was insanely excited, being selected to go to Antarctica to study seals, AMAZING. But, as the year progressed my excited became outweighed by my stress.
It really started with the PQ process, having doctors doing all these tests, with their mission to find anything physically wrong with me. It was not only the fear that they would find something that would disqualify me from partaking in this once in a life-time-experience, but also that doctors would find something wrong with me. Ironically, I was sitting in a church when I received the email that I passed my PQ, I prayed a lot that I would pass. It was like this huge weight was lifted from my shoulders, but that only lasted for an hour or so, before the reality set in that I was REALLY going to Antarctica, and then I panicked. What was I thinking? Going to Antarctica being exposed to insane weather conditions, where something could go wrong and I could end up hurt, or worse. Granted, at this point, I had probably read too many books about experiences past researchers had faced. But, I told myself the moments in life that push us to our limits and beyond are the most rewarding and continued to prepare myself. Then after experiencing this roller coaster of emotions for about nine months, I received the heartbreaking call that our expedition had been postponed. I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to face another year of these stressors.
You know what, I am and will be O.K. No, I am not looking forward to all the tests again, but I have the confidence to face them. No, I am not fearless, but I know there are skills I will be taught to survive in the field. No, I am not stress-less, but I appreciate the people in my life that support me. Today, on the first day of orientation, for the second time, I realized I am ready to be a truly valuable member of my research team and fulfill my responsibilities as a PolarTrec Educator.