5 days before I leave, and I still catch myself thinking about how I can’t wait for the Alabama/LSU game, or for my family’s famous thanksgiving meal. And then it hits me. Is this really happening? I am really moving 4800 miles away? What if something happens? What if I can’t support myself? What if I’m unhappy? What if I fail? WHAT AM I DOING??
I feel my pulse start to race and my breathing quicken, as if I’m on the verge of having a full blown panic attack. Then I take a deep breath, remind myself that I’m young, and I would be crazy not to take this opportunity. I take a minute, pull myself together, and change the subject of thought to something much more pressing and important, like beating my favorite but least favorite game Candy Crush, or running errands that I have been putting off since school ended. Anything to put that feeling of panic at bay.
It is funny what happens when you actually realize that you are leaving. The leaves become greener and the sky becomes bluer. Those annoying quirks you might hate about where you are from become a reason why you want to stay. The monotony that used to make you want to “be anywhere but here” turns into wanting “to be here and nowhere else”. Nostalgia kicks in in full force.
I’m no psychologist, but I’m sure there is some sort of psychological term for this process. I’m not sure if it’s a survival instinct to make you want to stay close to what you know, but I can tell you one thing: it sucks.
There is a part of me that wishes I could become heartless for a year. Take off and experience the road, without any emotion about leaving one place for the next. Oh, how easy life would be, to never miss what you leave behind. Unfortunately (and fortunately) however, this is what makes us innately human. This is not a learned process, but one with which we are born. We are born to care, to miss, to yearn for, and to love. Don’t be fooled, the heart is bigger than the brain.
Now some of you may know this story, but I think it’s worth repeating. When I was studying abroad back in 2011, I had a girl approach me and ask me what was around my neck. If any of you know me well, you know I have worn a charm of the state of Louisiana with a Fleur de Lis on it around my neck almost everyday probably for the past 4-5 years. Since I started traveling, this has been a great reminder of home, an awesome conversation starter, and a symbol of pride of where I am from. Well this girl, apparently a very angry girl, told me just what she thought of it: “Well that’s stupid. Why would you even wear that? You’re one of THOSE girls aren’t you? You just can’t get over where you’re from and the people you grew up with. You know there is a whole world outside of Louisiana, right?” Yes, as I am standing on Spanish soil she was telling me this.
It was right then when I realized just how lucky I was. How unfortunate she was to not understand why I would wear a symbol of pride for who I am and where I am from. In that moment, instead of being angry, I felt sorry for her. Instead of blowing up or freaking out, all I said was , “I guess I wouldn’t understand if I were you either”, got up, and walked away.
My point in telling that story is simple and can be expressed in my favorite quote of all time:
As I keep complaining how hard it is to go, it is easy to look over the facts of why it’s so difficult. I love where I live, I have a set of loving parents who would do anything for me, I have a great family life, I have an awesome group of friends, a puppy who loves me unconditionally and a wonderful, loving boyfriend. After hearing this, who WOULD jet off to the other side of the world without a little bit of cold feet?
Although it has been hitting me hard recently, I know making this move will be a great next chapter in my life. Instead of wishing later in life that I had followed my dreams, I will be able to say with pride that I did. I will make new friends, learn to adapt to a new culture, develop new skill sets, learn how to teach, go to places that many people never get to go to in their lifetime, and hopefully come back a well-rounded person with some great life experiences.
And if the seaweed was just greener elsewhere, at least I have a great life to which I can come back home.