This past weekend, I did something I could have never predicted eight months ago. I threw myself a going away party.
A going away party wouldn’t have made much sense if I was still engaged, planning on getting married in a frighteningly close 15 days at the time. Instead, I am not engaged. My closest friends and family surrounded (drowned) me in love and support and pink moscato and far too many jell-o shots. I celebrated the fact that I am jumping an ocean away from everything comfortable in my life in pursuit of something harder. This is certainly not something I would have done eight months ago, but here we are.
2016 has easily been the hardest year of my tiny life. As someone who craves and pursues consistency and balance, I was in for a massively rude awakening time and time again. And no matter how hard I pushed back, I was not going to get my way. So after I realized that, what else is there to do but accept it?
That’s how I started pushing back against my fear. For the nights that were spent in a cold bedroom in Colorado, crying myself to sleep at 9:10 pm just to end the day and start another one. For awkward date after awkward date, easing myself into the idea of others. For pushing what I need and more importantly, what I deserve. For realizing what I wanted and how to get there.
For two weeks in May, I was house and dog-sitting (don’t laugh too hard) for a family I worked with for a few months. It took 10 of those 16 days, but I left there with a plan, my first plan since the others crumbled:
- I was going to be a nanny this summer and opt-out of camp, a constant and understood part of my summers since 2007.
- I would return to school for my master’s in English Education in May 2017.
- During my gap year before the school cohort started, I would live abroad instead of working retail or become settled in a full-time job, only to leave a year later.
And for the first time since January, I felt peace. The restlessness that followed these massive life decisions was not one of anxiety or fear. It was excitement. It was joyful. It was peaceful. See, when someone who craves and pursues consistency doesn’t get it, they immediately try to remedy the situation. Instead, I hunkered down like a good Dawg and weathered my own storm. I fought back every natural tendency I have and flew by with no plan, no tentative schedule, nothing even remotely reflecting plans.
Fighting yourself is such a strange occurrence. It literally reminds me of Kronk, in the Emperor’s New Groove. His internal battles that are portrayed (easily one of the best from Disney’s 2000s) basically mimic me and my internal struggle. I would argue with myself on a daily basis, to the point of binge-watching Netflix so I wouldn’t think about the constant battle of thoughts. But day by day, it all got a little easier. I had to fight the notion that I gambled with love and I lost. And once that battle was won, I realized how grateful I was to lose at something.
I had the option of rewriting the story. I had the chance to fall in love again. I had the opportunity to make it what I wanted, despite not getting my way. And I did.
In four days, I board a plane and wake up more than 4500 miles away from literally anything I’ve ever known. I will be living in a country where I do not speak the native language. I will be an ocean away from the closest Chick-fil-A. Comfort will roll with the punches and I will know how to deal with change much quicker than the first round.
One of my favorite artists, Ben Rector, wrote a really good jam entitled “Fear.” The fear I feel these days are all stemming from the next best thing for me. My Plan B. And even if I’m not a fan of rerouting, I’m excited to see where this path leads me.
“I remember who I was and I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from.”
(The best part? It was released a year ago to my departure date. God is so cool sometimes.)
When you’ve got something hard pushing against you, stop fighting for a second. Let it sink into every crevice and feel why you’re fighting so hard. And sometimes, if you do that, you realize it’s better to ride the wave than to fight the current. Ride the wave, weather the storm, then board the plane to see what the view looks like from the top of the storm. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.