“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” – Doug Firebaugh
Here are some things I’ve learned as a psychologist: Any big change comes with anxiety. Anxiety gets worse when you let it fester in your brain. Saying blanket statements like “it’ll be OK” does not make anxiety better but directly addressing what you would do if the feared thing comes to pass does. When you say an anxiety aloud, a lot of times it’s pretty dumb (although sometimes it’s very accurate). Anxiety is natural and is not something to be feared. Someone else has the same worry as you and I have had the same worries as just about every single one of my clients at some point or another.
So far, I am doing a fantastic job worrying about the trip. Everyone else (who has not spent two years planning, given up their jobs, seen their house re-rented, and put all of their things up for sale) is super excited about the trip and think I’m being a little ridiculous. I thought that instead of subjecting my friends to worry about not working for a year, I’d try a common therapy trick. In 10 minutes, here are all of the worries I currently have (or could type in fast enough). I highlighted the most ridiculous ones:
What if we don’t sell all of our things?
What if we get sick before we go?
What if we don’t have enough money?
What if the student loan people don’t grant us the Income Based Repayment plan that we’ve had for the last 3 years?
What if I’m not smart enough to do this?
What if I get sick?
What if Randy gets sick?
What if I’m too bored on the road?
What if I never get a job back?
What if I never live in such a cool place again?
What if my friends forget me?
What if my friends are happy I’m leaving?
What if this is a mistake?
What if it’s not impressive enough?
What if I paid too much for the plane tickets?
What if we’re spending too much time in America?
What if all of the housesits fall through?
What if I lose my passport?
What if we get robbed?
What if the language barrier is too much?
What if I can’t find anything I like to eat?
What if I realize my life now was the best ever and I threw it away?
What if we’re audited?
What if the dog doesn’t get adopted?
What if I can’t handle 24/7 time with Randy and no privacy breaks?
What if Randy can’t handle how obnoxious I am all the time?
What if Randy hates it and blames me for quitting his job and leaving?
What if I’m too fat/out of shape to travel?
What if I’m not cool enough to travel?
What if I can’t make friends with anyone?
What if my pictures suck?
What if I miss something (like a cool site or interesting event)?
What if I’m present for something I really don’t wanna be (like a tsunami or earthquake)?
What if I really didn’t plan the budget right?
What if we don’t get jobs when we get back?
What if I’m too resistant to working to get a job when we get back?
What if I do it wrong?
Some of these are legit fears. Miscalculating the budget and having money fears is pretty important. Getting sick is a big deal. The other stuff, though? Seriously? How are there IQ, weight, and coolness requirements for travel now? How in the world would I not be able to find things to eat? I love new food and eating the weirdest thing on any menu is my M.O.! And even if my pictures suck, who cares? I will be in another country and experiencing it in real life! I’m just amazed at the sheer magnitude of anxieties my brain can come up with. What’s even better is that I’m actually anxious that I’m not anxious enough. Somehow, in those periods of calm, my brain starts telling me to snap out of it and start worrying. I should win some sort of worrying award.