One year ago today I was sat in Birmingham airport possibly more terrified than I’ve ever been. I can’t even describe the intensity of the wave of fear that came over me as I left my mum to walk through departures. I was about to board a plane, alone, to Bangkok. Well, at least I thought I was before the snow gave me some of the most stressful and sleep deprived days of my life. A flight cancellation was not what I needed and it sent me into major panic mode.
My first few days away from home were spent feeling lonely, confused and regretful. At the time I never would have thought that the next few months would bring some of the best and most meaningful experiences of my life, that taking myself out of my comfort zone so completely was probably the best thing I could have done and that I’d feel more confident and positive as a result. I almost don’t want to say it because it sounds like such a cliché, but solo travel really is a life changing experience and I don’t feel like I came back as the same person I was when I left. You only have to compare my first entry in my blog to my last to see that.
From there on I continued to challenge myself. I found my way from Bangkok to Sukhothai on that first terrifying day in Bangkok, camped with giant spiders in the middle of Laos and managed to do both a skydive and bungee jump in New Zealand. I made circles of friends who for that moment in time felt as close as the one’s I had left behind, and I did it all on my own. That’s something I am immensely proud of. I learnt that when you put yourself in a challenging situation you rise to it and that I was capable of a lot more than I had imagined.
So that’s why yet again I’m removing myself completely from my comfort zone. I made a promise to myself while I was sailing in Australia that in two weeks time I’m going to honour – see as much of the world as possible and don’t let fear hold you back. I knew myself well enough to know that when I went home I would forget that feeling – the feeling of being so happy and so sad at the same time. I was sitting in the sun and staring out at the sparkling, bright blue sea just wishing and hoping it wouldn’t be the last time I’d see something so beautiful. I knew then how easy it would be to come home and get sucked back into a routine, to get comfortable with my life and feel trapped by the fear of breaking away into something new.
I still have that fear and unfortunately it’s something that’s consuming me more and more every day in the build up to me leaving. I predicted this would happen and it’s frustrating because it takes away from what should be an exciting time. However, I know full well that it wouldn’t be natural to make a change this big in your life and not be terrified and so I’m making my peace with it. I know it has to get worse first to get better and that give it a week of being away and I’ll probably be fine. This time I don’t fear solo travel and I won’t have to for the first week as I’ll have a friend with me to ease the transition.
But the times when I do worry about it I remind myself of my solo coastal walk in Sydney, and at times where I panic about doing the wrong thing I remind myself of my thoughts about coming home at Melbourne airport. When I see a tiny British spider in the shower I picture the tarantula sized and potentially deadly beasts I saw in Australia and I don’t feel so scared.
I have an experience for every occasion. They’re there to remind me of how capable I am of getting over difficult situations and how things are never as daunting as they first seem. If just 3.5 months away can give me that then the possibilities that will come from another trip are endless. Who knows what I have ahead of me but if I can add just one more experience to that bank of memories then I know it will all be worth it.
15 days and counting. Bring it on.