“I’ve got a challenge for you, post two blogs a week until you go.” This was my friend, Dan’s challenge for me after I confessed that I was considering purchasing airfare to Scotland, on the notion that getting away from the daily grind would give me the much needed respite to reconnect with the world and pursue my writing.
Travel has always been a way for me to peer outside of the shell of my life. In this case, I do not use the term shell to describe a hollow existence, but a protected one. As I push beyond this safe enclosure, I find that I grow spiritually. Alone, in unfamiliar territory, I am encouraged to connect with my surroundings, with nature, and with humanity in all of forms, from beautiful to terrifying.
This will be my first time traveling to Europe, alone, and it will be my first visit to Scotland. I’ve purchased maps and I have done extensive research on the places I would like to visit. I have looked at flights a thousand times and I have yet to press “purchase”.
The truth is, I am scared and the fear “gremlins” (a word I am borrowing from author Brené Brown) are starting to mount an offensive attack. Thoughts generated by these gremlins rip through my excitement like bullets from a machine gun tear through flesh. Eliciting doubt, they tell me: Traveling for a month is not something a financially responsible adult does! You won’t see a paycheck for a month and you have bills to pay! You don’t get vacation time. This will be overhead without a financial return! What do you think you are doing? Running off to Scotland is extravagant. Can’t you just take a drive or something? Besides, it’s winter! Why the hell would you want to go to Scotland in the winter? What happens if you don’t write as often as you intend to? You keep making the commitment, but you never keep it. If you stay here, you will make money and be able to pay your bills like a good adult. Isn’t that what you want to be, a good adult? If you stay here, you will be safe. Stay on track. Don’t stray. Keep trudging forward…forward to what, though? What exactly am I moving forward to?
Taking the time to stitch torn excitement and shredded inspiration back together, I begin to find my feet. At this point the answers have become fuzzy and lessons I’ve learned feel inadequate. The truth is, relative to a career, I have no idea what I am moving toward. I’ve started down many different career paths, but they never seem to unfold past a certain point. Many would judge this as a lack of commitment and I have certainly done the same. Usually this judgment takes me to a place of not being good enough and so I work harder, trying to be good. Such is the story of the life of a perfectionist. Be better. Do better. What is is not good enough.
This way of thinking takes a long time to un-learn and I am still in process. So, I do not maintain that I have any answers. Yet, over the past year, it has been indicated to me that re-framing these judgments in a positive light is a part of the un-learning process. In my previous post, Gradual Awakening, I introduce many of the same fears and speak about changing my perception. Instead of looking at a handful of failed attempts, I get to see that I’ve had the privilege of finding out what I don’t want to do and in the process; I’ve had an opportunity to learn about subjects that were once foreign. I must repeatedly tell myself, there are no wrong moves, only different paths along the journey. This is easy to write, but difficult to remember.
Shortly after publishing what I envisioned to be the launch of a new adventure in writing and travel, I ended up getting a job offer. On any path, one may come to a fork in the road and this was my fork. Arriving on the tail end of being unemployed for two years, I decided to postpone my travels and take the job. Saddened at the thought of pressing pause on my dream, I kept re-assuring myself that it was only pause, not stop. I told myself, “Its not no, its just not now.” Over and over I have repeated the mantra as I’ve trudged through three months of summer and fall classes, respectively. After all, if I was going to stay, I was going to use my time wisely and continue my education.
Nine months seems like an eternity. I look back at my post from January and read about the woman who was full of faith, ready to charge headlong at the uncertainty of life. I reflect on the woman who was ready to step out of security to be cradled by the unknown. That is the woman I want to be.
At some level, by choosing the job, I chose to crawl back into the shell of my life. It was the safe and logical choice, and it has been the best job I’ve ever had. However, I have grown restless and the Universe has responded, offering countless nudges (that I cannot ignore) to recall the wildish woman who was willing to take a chance. I don’t plan on quitting my job and hauling off to places unknown. I do, however, plan to haul off to places unknown.
A while back, a dear friend asked me what provided me with the most joy and, at the time, I was unable to provide her with an answer. These last nine months of tethering myself to the machine have proven that I will not flourish in such a manner. I am still unsure of what will bring me the most joy, but I do know that I feel most content when life contains the elements of travel, education and the ability to communicate these experiences through writing.
As there are no wrong moves, only different paths, I think I will do some exploring! Onward to Scotland!