This blog post is a special one. I’m writing it after doing something absolutely terrifying. I chose to skip my flights home from Europe and stay abroad for three months. While my friends and partner were here with me the first two weeks, they’ve all gone home, and I’ve stayed. This decision wasn’t totally on a whim, I had thought about doing this a couple months before the trip since my roommates and I had planned to end our lease and move out a couple days before I flew out. With nowhere to come home to, why not stay abroad? I started to look into the possibility, but sitting in my home office in America it just seemed too unattainable, too scary, and too much of a chance. To my partner’s happiness, I told him that I wouldn’t be staying in Europe after all.
On my bus ride to Prague I texted my partner and told him about my thoughts. I was worried about his reaction, but to my surprise and delight, he was immediately so supportive. His first question was “Ok what’re the factors we’re lookin at to help you do this?” he offered to bring me more clothes and my laptop. He said he would miss me but he could never take this experience from me. His support was a main factor in my decision to stay. The last issue, which was a big one, was my dog, but (again) to my surprise, a friend on the trip said that she would love to watch her until I got back.
So there it was, all the problems solved. All the support needed. Now it was my turn to jump, to make the final choice to not get on my flights home. To do something absolutely terrifying.
At the end of August I moved all of my things into a storage unit and gave all my plants to dear friends. I flew over the Atlantic for the first time and met my friends in Amsterdam. From there we went to Berlin, Friedrichshafen, Prague, and Paris. While we sat around the dinner table in Friedrichshafen I looked around to my friends and said “You guys… I don’t think I want to go back...” And while they entertained my crazy thoughts I could tell they didn’t exactly take me seriously. The next day the thoughts kept with me. Something inside me was itching for a big, scary move. The same itch that had me quitting my job months before. I resolved to go to Prague with an open mind on staying there (it is an incredibly cheap European city).
I sat alone in a McDonalds in Paris. My bus to Prague was leaving in two hours and my original flight home was leaving in 3. I could still go home. I could still chicken out. I could order an overpriced Uber to the airport and run home to the familiar.
My heart was beating so fast and a combination of fear, exhaustion, anxiety and worry kept bringing tears to my eyes. It was still early in the States and I knew my support system were all asleep, except for my dad. I texted him, telling him that I was freaking out and needed encouragement. He wrote back “Cass, take the adventure. You can bail out anytime. You have full support from family and friends. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” This didn’t exactly take away my anxiety but it did help dilute it.
I closed my eyes and breathed in deep, imagining courage and strength filling my lungs and igniting my soul. I stepped onto my 14 hour bus to Prague, skipping my flight out of Paris and securing the choice to make this absolutely terrifying move.
Doing something terrifying takes a lot of courage and faith. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new. It’s through these actions that you can grow your self-confidence, self-assurance, and overall help inform other self-love actions like setting boundaries, conquering fear, and having gratitude.
Here are three things to keep in mind when you're making a terrifying choice:
If not now, when? There will never be a perfect moment and there will always be excuses to not do something. If you’re waiting for the perfect time, it’ll never come, and you’ll always be where you’ve always been. Whether it’s starting a business, breaking off a relationship, or starting school again. Be aware that the moment is here, it is now, and you can take advantage of it.
You’re in control. This may seem like an obvious one but so many people forget. You are in control of your own life. All of those people you’re scared will judge you, all those people you believe will think you’re crazy, they are not in control of your life. You are. Remember to only live your life for you, or else it will be wasted.
Be realistic about the risks. Our minds love to think of the worst-case scenarios, the what-ifs, the reasons why we shouldn’t. But in all reality, what is the worst thing that could happen? Could it actually be pretty easily solved or fixed if it did happen? (Most likely!) Try to focus on the best case scenarios - I promise these thoughts are much more fun to have and changing your focus will fuel your courage. In the end you’ll realize that those fears were fruitless, and the best part is that this will make you stronger for your next terrifying choice.
Doing something terrifying could be as small as joining an on campus club or as big as moving abroad for a couple months. No matter what this terrifying move is, it will help you grow, build your confidence, and fill you with more happiness. And the world needs more happiness.