Last week, I nearly had a panic attack when I realized I was less than a month away from flying to London. Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m overjoyed to be jumping the pond, especially now that my living situation is sorted out and my visa application is (hopefully) under consideration by the British government.
Yet somehow, the idea that it was actually going to happen so SOON really terrified me. It’s a really scary notion. You know, the idea that I’m confronting my fear and getting on a combined 10-hour flight so I can go to a country where I barely know a soul and have never actually been… OK, breathe!
Of course I know I’m going to have the time of my life once I’m settled. After the jet lag wears off and I get out into that bright, big city with my camera*, I’m confident all these jittery feelings will wear off. Add classes and friends to the mix, and I’ll be positively unstoppable.
I know these things and I keep repeating “It will be fine” to myself, but in that moment last week, I was momentarily paralyzed with fear. I thought about saying goodbye to my cat, family, and boyfriend at the airport and I just freaked.
Thankfully, I’m blessed with plenty of supportive people to talk me off the emotional ledges on which I’m always finding myself. I talked to my best friend Regina; my sister, Jill; and my boyfriend, Nick. They all told me the things I’m always telling myself and it temporarily assuaged my fears. But those airport goodbyes kept creeping back into my mind at night and making me panic. I found myself avoiding the idea of leaving for my dream trip, rather than looking at it with anticipation.
Now, I’m happy to say I’m feeling much better, thanks to a certain friend who just returned from Europe. Sunday night, Nick and I picked up our friend Monique from the Jacksonville Airport where she had just returned from her summer study abroad program in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She and I have grown really close over the past year and we were so excited to be back together after eight weeks that we had one of those movie moments where we ran at each other outside the airport and embraced so tightly, I thought we would both snap in half.
We went for some light appetizers and a round of drinks and she told me all about how scared she had been to leave, but how exciting and fulfilling her trip had been. She visited eleven countries and because she chose to arrange her own housing, she truly immersed herself in the local culture. She visited the best restaurants and met the coolest, French-est people, and had and overall fantastic time.
Hearing that Monique could do it in a country with a language barrier made me feel much better and much stronger. I’m no longer afraid of the actual trip (plane ride not included) and I’m trusting that it will all work out in the end. Plus, I know all the people I’m leaving will be right where I left them when I return. And that’s a pretty comforting thought.
*I am by no means a good photographer. But dammit, do I try!