In what started off as a completely unrelated conversation, a good friend of mine asked me recently what made me nervous. He wanted to know what I've done to challenge the status quo in my own life. He asked me to tell him what things had previously distracted me from taking the big steps in my life that I needed to take, and how I overcame those distractions.
My mind immediately went to travel.
Ever since I left high school, I have wanted to travel extensively and live overseas. It started off as a strong inclination but, after a couple of years, and after becoming a regular reader of Sol's inspiration blog, it blew out into an all encompassing desire and an absolute need. Strangely enough though, it still took me until I was 22 years old to plan my first overseas trip.
I had come up with a plethora of reasons for me not to take the big, scary leap and travel overseas. I had a boyfriend who didn't want to travel. I was worried about missing family events, birthdays, or even just the ordinary every day moments of my niece and nephews growing up. I didn't have British citizenship, which made it seem all that much harder. I was in a good place with my job and couldn't afford to step away. I was worried about not earning superannuation. The fact was, I was nervous and scared, and I easily accepted these reasons as being big enough and important enough for me to stay at home and to not do something that I really wanted to do.
In late 2004 I finally reached my breaking point. I had been out of school for over five years and I had seen people I went to school with travel and live overseas; but I had yet to leave Australian shores. I got angry at myself for continually putting off something that was so important to me, just because I was scared. I decided that enough was enough and that by whatever means necessary, I was going to travel before my 23rd birthday!
I was still nervous and scared, but I was sick of excuses and I was sick of watching my life pass by in a trickle of normality instead of grabbing it with both hands and shaping it into something amazing. So, I railroaded my nervousness and fears, I threw them forcefully into the back recesses of my mind, and I ran headlong into my desire to travel. I began to plan my solo journey through Vietnam.
Recently, and unexpectedly, I found myself in a similar position to the one I was in when I was 22. I have travelled since Vietnman - I've been to Thailand, Bali, Geneva, England, Edinburgh, Vegas, and I've trekked half of the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea - but none of these trips have been for extended periods of time, and I still have not lived overseas. Again, I have let fear and excuses keep me from doing what I really want to do. Again, I justified a choice to stay in Australia with less than emphatic reasons. So, again, I have put my foot down and, just as I decided I would travel before I turned 23, I have now decided that I will live overseas before I turn 30.
If I start thinking too much about the fact that I am actually moving to London - that I'm actually doing it - I feel the panic rising up inside of me like a drowning man struggling for a broken branch. But, if there's one thing I'm scared of more than changing my entire life, moving away from everything and everyone I know, risking my relationship, and leaping without a safety net, it's not doing it. One of my greatest fears is looking back on my life and regretting something that I didn't do. I refuse to be haunted by the fact that I could have lived in London, that I could have travelled and experienced and tasted and danced and lived, but that I didn't because I was too scared to take that step.
So, my fear has become my strength, and by the end of this year I will have taken that big step, I will have challenged the status quo, and I will be living in London.