When the idea of moving to the other side of the world began formulating in my mind, I felt nothing but excitement. I was born and raised in Australia and the only other country I had ever visited was Thailand. At the age of 20 I decided it was time that I venture further afield! my plan was to travel across Europe for a few months before settling in London. I began planning, saving, telling everyone about it and it was all that I could think about for an entire year.
After that first year of dreamy bliss however, things started to get VERY real. All of a sudden it was time to book that one way flight to an alien place thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I had ever known. I started to panic. When previously my heart had pounded with excitement at the prospect of this grand adventure, it now pounded in fear. It was all well and good in theory but I knew that once I booked the flight there was no backing out. I don’t blame myself for panicking, anyone else in the same position would freak out too. The clincher is whether or not you actually let your fear get the better of you because if you do, that is something you will blame yourself for.
I once knew someone who was planning to move abroad, she was SO excited. She talked about it for months and told everyone that she was moving overseas, she even went as far as lining up a job for when she arrived. BUT when it came time to book the flight i.e. to take the first real step towards making it a reality, she found an excuse and ended up not going. She let fear win and remained in her warm, safe, familiar comfort zone. As a consequence she missed out on an amazing opportunity and one that she will never get again. Obviously taking that first concrete step towards such a big change isn’t going to eliminate your worries entirely, even after my flight was booked I continued to panic for the ensuing 10 months! but once you’ve conquered that initial hurdle you can’t make any excuses to get out of it and in a way it takes a load off your shoulders.
It wasn’t until I’d physically boarded the plane and was sitting there with nothing else to think about or do but just sit, that I felt myself begin to unravel. I think until that moment it had remained in the back of my mind that anything could happen to prevent this from going ahead, we might get stuck in bad traffic and miss the flight. I might arrive only to be told that I’d made a mistake and our flight had left earlier that day. I might trip and fall, breaking my leg and ending my journey before it had begun – dramatic I know! but I couldn’t allow myself to relax and be excited. Sitting here now, 5 years later I smile with happiness and gratitude that nothing hindered me (including myself) and that I made it smoothly onto the big metal tube that would carry me through the clouds to my new life. But in all honesty, until that moment I was secretly hoping something out of my control would happen so that I could remain in the comfort of my family home, the company of loved ones and the familiarity of Australian culture because I was terrified.
Once I’d made it onto the plane I simply gave in. My thoughts as the flight attendant gave us the emergency run down were something like “well, this is happening… I might as well enjoy it” it’s laughable recalling that moment now, my thoughts comparable to someone falling to their death and trying to enjoy the view on the way down. But it’s the truth! I wasn’t excited, I was accepting my fate. HOWEVER by the time I had arrived in Europe and was a few days into my trip, my perspective had totally shifted. I realized that this place isn’t the moon – there is food and water here, the people and the culture are not all that different to home, and I’m totally capable of working out directions and managing myself.
With that new found confidence everything became exciting and I started to feel not only incredibly proud of myself but incredibly glad that I hadn’t been a fool and thrown away the opportunity. The tables had turned and now instead of being scared to leave my comfort zone, I was scared of staying in it. And I still am. I’m frightened of missing out, of being old one day and wishing I’d done more. These days the thing I’m most fearful of, is regret. That decision to go ahead and book the flight, to take the leap, turned me into a whole new person and the very thought of having given up and remaining in my little home town still makes me shudder.
What would I be doing now? Who would I be? I’d probably be in a stable, well paid job. I’d have a husband… a house with a perfectly manicured lawn, a couple of dogs and probably a kid. I’m sure I’d think I was happy, and maybe I actually would be. But I know for sure I wouldn’t be the fierce, confident, mature, compassionate, ambitious woman who’s writing this. The one who’s seen and experienced SO MUCH.
The moral of the story here is this (insert cliché) “fear is temporary, but regret lasts forever” as cliché as it is, that might be my favorite quote. It still resonates with me all these years later, and whenever the moment calls it will burn in the back of my vision, reminding me that new things are always scary, but only for the first bit! Take my advice and jump that first hurdle, be brave, be strong, and push through the fear. Trust me, everything that comes after will not only be a breeze, it’ll be amazing and SOOO worth it.
Author: Megan Watts. Founder and Content Creator at Foreign Aussie