Quite honestly, I’m scared shitless. I am using this expression solely because I’ve never realized how vulgar the literal meaning is and you become brazenly aware of such things when you’re speaking to people who don’t share the same expressions with you.
I think it’s time to be honest. So, I am sitting on a bus to Berlin and attempting to channel that strong, determined, self-assured girl I know is in there and that I can’t get in touch with right now. Maybe she didn’t get my new German number or something…
In February, I packed my shit into my parent’s storage unit. I hemmed and hawed over which clothes I should pack. At this point, I wish I had just come with a backpack. It would make things a hell of a lot easier without huge luggage as my travel partners. Maybe I should name them? I “saved” up money, but it wasn’t much. I got on the plane with a little over $2,000, I believe. It’s absolutely not a lot, considering I was doing a month-long course with no income and am essentially unemployed. There’s nothing coming in.
I rationed my food, I said no to lunch out and I got quite resourceful with the cheapest things in the grocery store. When I graduated my program with distinction, I allowed myself to enjoy a little bit. I think graduation was the first time that I realized I was living abroad. All of a sudden, I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do anymore or how to spend my time. Life got real really quickly. It was invigorating at first, now it’s been a week and I’m terrified. I’m still unemployed and I’m trekking across Germany wondering, why the hell is the euro so expensive?! I miss the Czech Krowns and prices.
Why did you leave Prague, AJ? I left because I had never wanted to stay there. Yes, I fell in love with it. Yes, I got comfortable. Yes, I built a community. It became easy to stay there and it would have been so easy, but would I have kicked myself in the ass three months from now that I didn’t challenge myself? I am following my initial instincts. I am rebelling against those little magnets in my stomach crying out, you’re comfortable here, stay! Trust me, I’m challenging myself. This isn’t easy and it’s really scary. Thank God for tax refunds and my parents all of a sudden remembering they opened bonds for me when I was a baby, because it replenished my bank account to be nearly what it was when I got on that first airplane.
Just a little more wiggle room to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. People keep asking and all I can do is smile and shake my head and say, “I’m just taking it three days at a time.” So many people tell me that I’m brave for doing this, but I don’t feel brave. I had to have a serious chat with myself and just take a second to be afraid, take a second to cry, take a second to just be truly scared. The last thing I want is for this to all have been for nothing. I don’t want to have to go home, penniless and unfulfilled. At this moment, I’m listening to a song that says, “you can take a day off,” and it’s like a sign from above. After my course ended and I was still unsure of where I was going, I took a day to myself and when I woke up the next day I wasn’t scared anymore. I bought my ticket to the unknown.
I took my time to be scared and now I’m here, pulling myself together and bombarding my inner narrative with positivity and reminders of why I’m here. Before I came here, people told me I was brave. I looked at them like they had three eyes because I didn’t understand it. I was scared! I still am…That was when my mom told me something that will stick with me forever. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. Being brave means doing something even though you’re scared. It brought a completely new meaning to being the young and bold traveler.
I have trust in the universe that I am here for a reason. I have met the people I’ve met for a reason. I may feel like I’m losing myself and like I’m out of touch with myself, but isn’t that what travel’s all about? Isn’t that what adventures all about? Rediscovering yourself outside of your element; being scared and choosing the hard way anyway because you’re free to. I’m surrounded by snow covered mountains and pine trees on my way to Berlin and all of a sudden all I want is to be out in the snow screaming at the top of my lungs and dancing around because I’m free.
I chose the hard way, butI’m so so free. This is invigorating and while unanswered emails and a depleting bank account may be rearing their ugly heads at me, I am finally remembering what it’s like to trust. Besides, even if I do have to go home at least I’ll always have this. I’ll always know I can get on a bus and leave what’s comfortable over and over for the promise of adventure. Maybe in the midst of all this self-doubt, I’ve been discovering myself more than I realized.
For anyone who’s reading this, all I want to say is it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to freak out and wonder, is this the right choice? Listen to your gut instinct, talk to your friends and family, take a day for yourself, cry or scream if you want… then get up, take a deep breath, square your shoulders and stare into the abyss of fear and smile. You’ve got this. We have all got this.