Dandelions & Fears

By: Holly Toner
Major: Japanese
Rikkyo University, Academic Year Exchange in Japan

When I first saw the question, “What are your biggest fears about studying abroad?” I thought, are you serious? There are SO many things I am absolutely terrified about! What if my plane crashes over the ocean and I find myself in one of those shark attack movies? What if I don’t have enough money? What if I get put in jail while going through customs? What if this? What if that?

As you will learn through reading my words, I tend to think a little differently. I pull inspiration from random things, but I am also a very emotional and afraid person. This is important for you to know. I want to do my best to make this blog a positive experience and inspire everyone to travel. However, it is important for everyone to know they aren’t alone in the negative feelings that they have as well.

My biggest fear has recently surpassed all of the typical fears. Growing up I never felt particularly close to my family. But I do love them so incredible much. It is starting to fully sink in, I will be gone for an entire YEAR. Look how much has happened in just these two semesters for me. What’s going to happen in a whole year back home? I’m going to miss so many happy times and possible tragic ones as well when it comes to my family. My younger sister will have a baby next month. My mom has some medical things going on. I am my dad’s only child. How will me being gone affect everyone? I thought, for my mom and younger sister, ever since I was six I have rarely seen them much, it won’t matter if I’m in Japan. But to me it does. What do I do if something happens while I’m gone?

That is my fear.

I used to argue with my dad constantly when I was five or six, “Look dad! The yard is full of flowers!” “No, Holly. Those are WEEDS.”

A dandelion. A weed disguised as a flower, my dad told me. But for me, I saw a flower. I still call it a flower today. I wondered recently, why am I so persistent on calling this plant that everyone hates a flower? Maybe because I feel we are comparable. Just like this plant, I put on this face of a flower. That I am strong and beautiful and I want to be liked by everyone. But actually, on the inside, I am a week. I am afraid. I wonder, who can see through me? But something that has always inspired me about this flower/weed is that it changes. It changes from this yellow plant everyone hates into this white puff ball that everyone loves. And when we pick it up and make a wish and smile and hope as each individual tuft flies away into the wind, this plant probably rejoices too. After all, it made everyone smile, and by making a wish and blowing into the wind, we are giving the plant more life.

I confessed my fears to my mom. And essentially she has told me what I already know. I have to fly away into the wind too. No matter how afraid I am. No matter what I fear I’ll miss. No matter what my family fears as well. Everyone is still smiling to see me fly away across the sea.

That’s what I have to remember.

Holly Dandelion


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