On January 2, 2019, I began a journey that would change my life and how I view myself forever. At the time, though, I didn't know this. Don't get me wrong, I was pumped to go to Peru, but I was also understandably terrified. I didn't know anyone going on the trip, so my brain convinced myself that I wouldn't make a single friend in the three weeks I was there (pure FAKE NEWS, thanks, brain). I could make a list that goes on eternally, filled with all the concerns I had. For a short period of time, I even contemplated not going; man would I have been beating myself up if I didn't. The lessons I've learned, the perspective I've gained… I couldn't have gotten it anywhere else.

So now, the moment you've been waiting for: my life-altering experience I had in Peru. If I had the time and an infinite number of pages, I would go through Peru day by day. However, I, unfortunately, do not, so I'm going to talk about the two days that, truly, changed me forever and helped me grow exponentially. On January 6th, my class and I ventured to a little town called Antioquia, where they were celebrating their town's anniversary. It was really fascinating, but I found that I wasn't 100% invested in it because of how anxious I was feeling.

Just a heads up, y'all: Culture shock is a very real thing, and I was hardcore feeling it on this day.

After hanging out for a while in Antioquia, we ended up getting back on our bus and just driving around. Honestly, I don't think there was a destination point in mind; it was a very postmodern perspective. Eventually, we reached this off-beat trail leading to the top of the mountain. Everyone was so excited about it, but I was absolutely terrified. Normally, I'm not one to be scared of heights, but y'all... this trail was NARROW and COVERED in loose rocks.

All that was going through my mind was: "One wrong slip, and I will LITERALLY plummet to my death. And all these people are excited about that?! HOW?!"

Nonetheless, I decide to climb this dang mountain because I knew future me would have beat current me to a pulp for not doing it. So, I began my trek, in the middle of the pack. Yet with every rock, I slipped even the slightest bit on, I felt my heart rate increase exponentially. I felt the shakiness in my body grow to the size of the world's worst earthquake. It got so bad that I had to literally sit down and let a panic attack ride out. At that moment, I hated myself. I hated me for being so weak, so pathetic, that I could not climb this stupid mountain and enjoy the view like everyone else was. After what felt like years of me beating myself up, I started to fight back.

Slowly, I stood up, and you know what I did? I climbed that freaking mountain.

Once again, it was slow because ya girl was hyperventilating the whole time. But I made it. Did I get to the top right as everyone was leaving? Yeah, I did. Did I hyperventilate and shake the whole way up there? You betcha. But you know what? I freaking did it, and anxiety didn't win. I won. I FINALLY won. Never in a million years did I think that I could win a battle against my GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), but I did, and the battle was worth the breathtaking view. I now know that no matter the fight, I have it in me to win; I am capable of so much more than I believe that I am, and so are you. Don't ever forget that.

Panoramic view of what I saw after my conquest in Peru.Katherine Sheetz