I wonder what it is about long-awaited events, creeping slowly slowly closer, that make me transform into an Anxious Annie ? Christmas time; have I been good enough this year ? Did Father Christmas get my letter ? Will he really know about that dinner time when I kicked my brother under the table and then pretended I knew nothing about it when he was wailing and Mum was glaring ? Birthday week; did I drop enough hints about not wanting a Barbie but wanting a BMX with a cool paint job instead ? Did I invite the right people to my party ? Will anyone come ? Once in a lifetime Trip To Asia; will my house burn down whilst I’m away ? What if I’m washed away by a tsunami ? What if when I return to the UK all my friends will have forgotten me ?
Irrational thoughts that I guess even the most confident of people, whom I normally class myself amongst, could be forgiven for thinking; whilst trying desperately to ‘enjoy the moment’ subconsciously being plagued by anxiety, that unwanted bi-product of the pressures and stresses of everyday life. Perhaps when I return in 6 months time I’ll be a mellower person, a little less highly strung, a little more happy to just go with the flow. Who know’s ? But isn’t that the whole point ?
Is this daily need (or perceived need) to be in control, to be grateful for my lot and enjoy every second, the very reason I chose to head to the other side of the planet in the first place ? When I sarcastically slurred the words “I might just bugger off to the other side of the world,” over the rim of a pint glass in my local pub, to a poor unsuspecting bystander whose only mistake had been to politely ask me “How’s work ?” did I really mean it as a solution to my lack of control in a job I was hating ? Strangely, the answer appeared to be yes ! Apparently, what appealed to me was to replace my out of control professional existence with a planned, scheduled and structured trek around South East Asia. As soon as the very words had slipped out of my mouth, the decision was made. A little embryo of a plan was already hatching, and it felt amazing !
Not that the innocent bystander realised it, nor my partner of 7 years who was standing nearby, clearly thinking “She’s not warbling on about the Health Service again is she?” but at that very moment, making that decision to “Go Travelling” enabled me to take back control of my chaotic life, made me feel 10 feet taller, a little bit less likely to burst into tears at the smallest thing, a lot more like me.
Now the only problem with my embryonic plan was that travelling around South East Asia is about as far from being planned, scheduled and structured as you can get. In fact it demonstrates how clonkily my reasonably slick brain was working; tired and haggard after a year of new work demands, emotional stress and self-doubt, my brain was trying desperately to grasp at anything to make me feel better. The wonder of the human brain; it never ceases to amaze me. The conclusion it reached was the correct one; go far away, take someone you love with you, immerse yourself in a different environment and allow yourself time to reflect. Learn something new, invest in yourself and your loved one, get away from what makes you unhappy, move towards what makes you happy. Simple ! If only we all had logical, schematic process maps for brains, life would be a breeze. Except, now I know I’ve made the right decision to go and explore all that the Eastern side of the planet has to offer, I’m worrying about all the things I need to do before I go and all the things that could possible happen to endanger my promised blissful experience.
Of course I’ve taken advice from those around me. One simply doesn’t ditch one’s job, jump on a plane and spend one’s life savings without asking a few people if they think it’s a good idea first. The Oracle, my mother, did utter the extremely maternal and completely appropriate advice of, “As long as you’re not running away, you know all those problems might still be here when you get back”, which I love her for, and she’s not wrong, of course. The Others; friends, siblings, colleagues have all either literally or metaphorically grabbed me by the shoulders, shaken me and told me in no uncertain terms it’s the best decision I’ve made in my short (ish) 35 years on the planet. “Do it, do it now!” they seemed to yell, “You’ll only regret it later”. Whether this is true I don’t know, but the overwhelming message I received loud and clear from those I love and respect was of positivity, encouragement and support.
What I guess I’ve learnt so far, and I’ve not even left the country yet, is that no matter how many sensible or rash decisions you make in life to change yourself or your situation, you’re still going to have the worries and anxieties that come with any big event, particularly if those qualities are embedded in your DNA. Embrace them and relish them, recognise that they are part of the whole experience and of who you are as a person. I’m convinced it’s going to make me enjoy my time away even more, I’m determined it won’t detract from any tiny detail, prevent me from trying anything new, or becoming whoever I’m fated to become whilst I’m away, and really….what’s the chances of my friends not remembering me when I come back, I mean, come on, really ?!!