What do you do when the “plan” you had for your life isn’t unfolding as you expected?
I have always seen my life laid out in front of me like a book. Each chapter is a defining stage of life: childhood, high school, college, early adulthood ( pretending to be an adult) and adulthood. I had read through all these chapters with ease and in general, had positive experiences. I thought the next chapters in my life would be an engagement, marriage, and children. That was the way this book is supposed to read, right?
Time started passing by, but the pages in my book were not turning to the next chapter. Everyone around me seemed to be reading ahead. At first, just one chapter, but soon two and three chapters ahead and still, my pages didn’t turn. I thought if I just stayed still, then the page would turn. I had all the right pieces in place, I just needed to wait for it to happen.
Soon that stillness changed into paralysis. I grew envious and impatient. I started to believe that I was inadequate in some way. I knew all these thoughts were illogical, but the more time that passed, the more I started to believe them.
I had a trip planned to Europe in May and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was terrified that my feelings would ruin my trip. The paralysis was debilitating and my depression was pulling me even further down, but I didn’t have a choice, this trip was forcing me to move.
I have always said that when I travel, my soul feels fulfilled. On this trip, I spent my time in Sweden, England, and Italy traveling with friends. For the last 3 days of my trip, I hiked Cinque Terre on my own. The time alone (and the very long, grueling hike) provided a lot of time to reflect on the experiences of my trip, as well as my life back home. I realized that I felt alive. I felt like my true self. I felt more comfortable in my skin and self than I could remember feeling in a very long time.
I thought about what my life looked like and recognized how deeply unhappy I was waiting for the page to turn. Finally, I realized that wasn’t falling behind as everyone read ahead….I was reading the wrong book.
The feeling of relief at my realization was overwhelming. The self-criticism went away and was replaced with self-empowerment. It is time to pick up my book and turn the page myself.
The next chapter in my life is not marriage and kids.
The next chapter in my book is an adventure.
I have silently envied those who quit their jobs, travel the world and reinvent their life. I have always wanted to live abroad, but anytime I considered it, I only saw barriers ahead of me.
- I don’t have a job.
- I don’t have a visa.
- I don’t have enough money.
What I didn’t see was the barriers that did not exist for me. I do not have a husband, children, or house to consider in my decisions. I do not have major responsibilities holding me in this place. All the reasons I was holding myself back, could be overcome. Instead of looking at barriers to my adventure, I was looking at an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass me by.
When I got home from my trip, I did what every good daughter does, I called my Mother.
I said, “I need to talk to you about something”.
She responded, “What city is it?”
She knew what I was going to tell her. I don’t know how Moms know, but they always do.
I said, “It’s London. I am moving to London.”
I don’t have a solution to the barriers that I listed. I know that they will not necessarily be easy to overcome, but I know it is not impossible.
The point of this chapter in my book is not to succeed, but to try.
I may never find a job. I may run out of money. I may get kicked out of the country. It doesn’t matter what happens because at the end of this chapter, I did it. I went on the adventure. The experience is more valuable than the dollars in my savings account, the break in my resume or the fear of failure.
So, I have quit my job, I am breaking my apartment lease, selling my car, selling or storing 99% of everything I own, and getting on a plane to London. I don’t have answers to all the questions of how I am going to make it all work. I have a place to stay when I arrive (can’t wait to be roomies, Mandi & Stu!) and I will figure out the rest along the way.
I have never been more confident in any decision I have made. I know where I am going and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So, here I come, London. Let’s do this.*
- “This” will occur in October. Until then, I’ll be knocking down those barriers.