That’s Not A Funny Joke, Yeadon…
Tim, I can’t find my passport…
(Tim smiling) That’s not a funny joke, Yeadon…
Um…good thing it’s not a joke?
The plane had just landed after an overnight flight.
We had left Chicago the night before, stopped once to refuel, and had finally landed.
In Moscow, Russia.
And I could not find my passport.
I was 16 in January of 1997, traveling to Russia for the spring semester as part of an exchange student program.
When I reached for my passport as we touched down on the runway, it wasn’t there.
Not in my jacket pocket. (any of them, yes mom, I checked them all…)
Not in my backpack. (again mom, I checked everywhere)
By now, all I could think of was how much time I would spend in a holding cell while the KGB interrogated me before I was summarily sent home.
I had seen all the movies, and I was terrified.
I kept looking. I checked under my button up shirt, I remembered I had stuffed it inside my shirt because I was paranoid of just having it in a jacket pocket.
Tim helped me get the flight attendant to open the bathrooms on the plane so I could check them.
The fear kept growing. And I kept frantically searching.
The plane began to empty of passengers, and I still couldn’t find my documents.
Searching everywhere again.
I was ready to dump out my whole backpack right there on the seats to dig through everything.
After all, I had it when I got on the plane. So either it had been stolen, or my 16 year old self had just overlooked it in my frantic search.
Now that I have children, it’s fairly obvious which one it had to be.
But that’s with 25 years of experience and hindsight.
16 year old me was FREAKING. THE. HECK. OUT!!!!!
I found it in the last place I looked. (mostly because after I found it, I stopped looking)
I had tucked it under my tucked in, button up shirt. Because then anyone who wanted to steal it while I slept on the plane would have to undo at least one button to get to it.
Talk about paranoid.
It had slipped around to the middle of my back just out of reach if I checked quickly.
In a moment, things went from disastrous to totally fine.
I mean, maybe not totally fine. Tim’s blood pressure I’m sure was not ok.
Thinking back, I realize why I had the passport hidden so well. It was because of fear. I was afraid that someone would take it from me while I slept.
41 year old me sits here at the computer, laughing quietly at how 16 year old me thought. (in more ways that just this, let me tell you!)
There was almost no risk of my passport being stolen from me while on a flight from Chicago to Moscow. (not zero risk for all you who are about to email me back saying that better safe than sorry)
My fear of losing the passport pushed me to hide it, and I hid it too well! I couldn’t remember where I had put it when it was go time!
I wish my 41 year old self could have been there, telling 16 year old me how to handle that situation.
The passport would have been fine zipped up in my backpack. Or in my jacket pocket.
But sadly, there was no 41 year old Yeadon to help 16 year old Yeadon figure that out.
Was I being cautious with something that was really valuable? Absolutely.
Did my over abundance of caution cause its own problem. Definitely.
Yes, I know the passport wasn’t actually lost…but that’s not how 16 year old me felt!
Thankfully, I found my passport and was able to enter Russia and live there for the semester with the exchange program.
Caution is not a bad thing. But…search “too much definition” and see what you find…
More than necessary.
My excessive caution in this case only led to a freak out moment where a 16 year old couldn’t find his passport.
But too much caution is not a blessing.
Most of the time, it’s totally mislabeled.
We are afraid, and we rationalize our action, or usually our inaction as “being cautious”.
And we get stuck right there. Telling ourselves we are being cautious. No action. Just staying where we are in life, “safe”.
Are you really being cautious? Or just using that as an excuse to not push forward towards your dream?
Don’t let the “abundance of caution” keep you from chasing your dream.