I am Chance Wagner, a 22 year old American who is traveling through Russia alone, and I am uncomfortable.
I am in a country plagued by political unrest and reformation, radical rebels and constant fear of terrorist activity, and I am uncomfortable
I am sitting on a train that is a target for terrorism, in fact the very same railway was bombed and derailed 4 years ago, and I am uncomfortable.
I am attending what will go down as one of the most historic Olympics of all time due to the dangerous threats looming over the games, and I am uncomfortable.
I am in negative degree weather in a place that doesn't care for my well being and barks one of the most foreign languages I have ever heard. Where an unexpected change could lead to disastrous results at a moments notice, and I am uncomfortable.
Yes - I feel the most uncomfortable I have ever felt in my life, but that is exactly what I'm finding to be thankful for. I do not believe that we are called to live comfortable lives. To cower reclusively behind the comforts of home for the duration of our lives is to miss out on finding exactly what makes life so valuable. I have left the comfort of a safe environment and am forced to be vigilant in studying my surroundings, my senses piqued to notice even the most subtle warnings of a potential threat. But what happens when EVERYTHING is different? When every voice is foreign, every sign not written for my vocabulary? Not catered to my well being? I come alive. And that is why I'm out here doing this, because beyond the circle of my comfort zone I am finding growth. On the outer reaches of that sense of safety and satisfaction, you find what it feels like to truly fear for your life - and that is when you feel most alive.
It seems to me that above all, traveling opens your mind to a worldly perspective of understanding. Broadening your horizons beyond what is familiar is how a person truly develops an image for themselves. You find what you are made of, you find how to rely on yourself, how to be comfortable in whatever uncomfortable scenario life throws at you.
In this moment, I cannot help but to feel thankful for being a 22 year old American on a train traveling north through Russia with nobody there to bring comfort or ease, fearing for his life but also finding the courage needed to overcome that trepidation. Thankful for the opportunity to gain a new appreciation for what it means to be alive. That is an image that I can find comfort in.