“In just under a year (if all goes as planned) I will be headed to England on a Working Holiday Visa.” This is the first sentence of the post I wrote six months ago on this blog. The only post I wrote on this blog in six months. As it turns out, it all did not go “as planned,” and I will not be on a plane headed for England in June. I am still planning on heading to England, but I am now aiming for the fall because June is no longer feasible. In my last post, I promised to let you in on why my June travel plans fell through and why I stopped posting about my travel plans.
The short reason? I stopped planning.
I continued to tell those that asked that I “planned on” heading to England in June. After all, that was what I wanted wasn’t it? To put my life in Canada on hold, move to the United Kingdom and experience life, work and travel in an entirely unfamiliar setting? Of course I did, except… I began to wonder if I was really the type of person to embark on this kind of adventure. I like the familiarity of my everyday life, I like my routines, I like having my collection of books readily on hand, I like being within driving distance from the majority of my friends (and, for that matter, being in a country where I can drive). I like being in close proximity to my family. I’ve never even been on a plane before!
Other questions started to creep into my mind. Would I be able to find a job or a place to live? What if I got hopelessly lost trying to navigate the airport or London when I arrived? What if I arrived and discovered that I really don’t like travelling? What if I discovered that I didn’t like England at all? What if I got there and immediately decided I wanted to go home? I’m not the kind of person who willing travels to unfamiliar places!
You can probably see my list of objections for what they were – excuses based on fear. You see, I’m not the kind of person who makes decisions easily. I’ve improved over the years but it still tends to be a long and tedious process; especially when it comes to big, life changing decisions. Despite this, I made the decision to go on a long-term trip to England quickly and with little deliberation. I have made quick decisions in the past but not on such a large scale, and never with such a gap between the decision and the corresponding action. This time fear had plenty of time to take hold. Had I really decided to undertake such a big adventure with so little internal debate?
In the months after I finished my masters I found plenty of time to debate my decision and the list of reasons not to go to England steadily grew. I told people of my plans and always ended with the phrase “but anything can happen between now and then.” I still say that (because I think it’s a good idea to make room for unexpected events) but during those months, I held onto a hope that something, anything, would happen to keep me here in Canada. After all, I really wasn’t the type of person who moves to unfamiliar places for a month let alone the year I was planning.
I stopped planning my trip – even though I kept talking about it. Since part of me hoped I’d never leave the country, I certainly couldn’t write about my travel plans. So my blog went on a six month hiatus; a hiatus that has now ended. I am once again planning and dreaming about my trip to England.
So what changed? I read a book set in England and felt that all familiar pull. I heard someone talk about a place in Europe and mentally added it to my list of places to visit while there. I realized that, as much as I try to convince myself that I’m not the type of person to enjoy going to new places, it’s just not true. I am that type of person. I was in a co-op program at school the first few years of my undergrad and, though I never ended up moving far away, not one of my five work terms was in my hometown. “Going home” always meant back to my hometown (and I was close enough to go home regularly), but looking back I always settled into my temporary homes quickly. I also always enjoyed the exploring that came with living in a new place, even if the extent of that exploration consisted of which bus route to take to work.
Am I completely free of fear? Not at all. I still have my doubts, worries and concerns. But that fear doesn’t have to stop me. It can, if I let it, but it doesn’t have to. After all, “courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”* Something may come up that keeps me in Canada, but I don’t want that something to be fear. I am determined not to let fear keep me from living life.
Life’s an Adventure!
*This quote has various forms and attributions but in this instance I’m thinking of the movie the Princess Diaries.