To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to go on this trip.
After a vacation to Costa Rica last year almost two years deep into a job I didn’t enjoy, living a life that wasn’t honestly working for me, visiting Costa Rica revived an old dream that had been laying dormant inside of me for years, but whose time had now clearly come. I realized: I need to backpack through Latin America.
So after making this decision, I started working two more jobs to save money, cut down on expenses to save even more, and made a time frame for quitting my job in my mind.
But I loved New York, and always felt like whatever I was “searching for” and was “meant to do” was going to be found there, in the city of dreams, the city of my dreams. A huge part of me didn’t want to leave, was afraid to leave really, as if everything I loved was smoke and would somehow disappear if I left. So even though I was working and saving money (which admittedly took me a couple of months after the initial decision to finally get around to doing), I did absolutely no other form of prep for the trip, because any time I thought about it I would get overwhelming anxiety. I did not read up on any of the places I would be visiting, make packing lists, find a credit card that would give me air miles whenever I swiped, figure out the necessary precautions to take as a woman traveling alone. And because I really couldn’t understand why my anxiety was so intense, I didn’t do anything about it, rather choosing to simply ignore it.
The main driving force that kept me on track day to day and kept me from throwing in the towel when my anxiety became so severe, was that I needed to get out of a job that I hated. Every day going into an office to an awful boss, sitting on my ass at a desk all day, barely getting outside to see the sun or enjoy my life, I knew that this was not the path intended for me. I even developed a stomach condition which I am pretty sure was caused by the amount of stress I experienced at the job. And I knew the answer wasn’t to simply look for a new job, because I didn’t want to start over in a place I wasn’t really interested in being at either and have to learn a whole new bag of tricks just to keep paying the rent on a life I wasn’t sure I wanted. Because I didn’t know “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” As if we have to actualize some sort of socially created expectation for what our lives should manifest as in order to maintain a system that makes us miserable.
Eventually the day I had roughly marked out in my brain came and I gave my notice at work, packed up my things in my apartment and moved out of the city. I went home to D.C. for a couple of weeks to stay with my parents before my flight out, where I still found myself experiencing the same severe anxiety, despite the day I would get on a plane inching closer and closer.
One of the last days before I got on a plane to Mexico I came across this quote:
Don’t be afraid to fly my dear. The view is beautiful and the earth will still be there when you need it.
Now I am not typically one for admittedly cheesy quotes. But this one really spoke to me at a time when I needed it, really needed it, to keep it together. I was so afraid to let go of certain things to go into this unknown adventure, as if by leaving I was giving everything up. As if by leaving things behind they would not be there for me ever again.
I realized love is not smoke, even if you can’t see it. Life is not fixed, even if you can’t see what comes next. Every day is a new adventure, not a death of the old one. New York would still be there waiting for me when if and when I was ready to come back to her. But the whole world is waiting for me now, and I need to go out and love her. I need to fly, and when I am ready to come back home, she will be there for me, waiting with open arms.