As I found myself barreling down I-95 on the outskirts of Philadelphia at 4 in the morning on the 4th of July, savoring a genuine Philly cheesesteak and mentally preparing myself for the long journey back home, I asked myself, Was the cheesesteak really worth it?
Was it really worth the 10+ hours spent driving?
Was it really worth close to $60 in gas and tolls?
Was it really worth the caffeine-fueled all-nighters?
Was it really worth having to drive through Virginia?
My answers were as follows: absolutely, without dispute, totally, and this cheesesteak is delicious.
I began to draw parallels between my Philly trek and my gap year endeavor. I began to ask myself, will it be worth it?
What did I expect to gain from impulsively driving to Philadelphia? What do I expect to gain from traveling to Tanzania, India, and Thailand?
Some of the things that I expected from the Philly trip did not happen, yet others things did. There was a whole spectrum of circumstance that made the trip substantially better than I could have hoped – the unexpected. The things that weren’t planned really made it all worthwhile. The cheesesteak was not planned; I was supposed to be at the National Mall watching fireworks over the Washington monument, yet I found more satisfaction in a single bite of meat, bread, and cheese than any display of light in the sky could have given me. I surrendered to the moment and was rewarded beautifully.
So then, figuratively speaking, in what form will my Tanzanian cheesesteak appear? Indian cheesesteak, anybody? A Thailand cheesesteak actually sounds pretty good. Regardless, I think that my experience taught me to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to squeeze value out of. Always be ready to say yes.
I feel nervous about leaving the country, but it’s not a bad nervous. More like the kind of nervous that you feel while you’re trying to work up the courage to kiss a girl for the first time. Excruciating anticipation. All there is left is to take a deep breath and do it.
Original Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/07/21/searching-for-the-metaphorical-cheesesteak/