With only one week left until my last day of work and two weeks until Ben and I officially leave for our trip, I must confess that I am really freaking out right now. I’m scheduling times to meet with friends in Boston and NYC, (because who knows when I’ll see them again) figuring out the logistics for my farewell BBQ with my family, and for my job, I am documenting everything I have done in the past two years into one document.
But those things are not what’s freaking me out.
It’s the fact that I am closing this chapter in my life, and I have to say bye to my friends, family, and job. Not to mention, that my damn emotions are going haywire. I am super excited to embark on this journey but I am scared, nervous and anxious all at the same damn time. Could I have cold feet?
I know you’re probably thinking, why the hell is she so scared, nervous and anxious? I thought she wanted to travel?
I do, but let me explain!!!
There are definitely things I don’t like about the “traditional” life I live and those things are driving me to pursue my dreams of travel, but my family, friends and job are not one of them.
Having to say goodbye to people I have developed great relationships with, not seeing my family and friends for a long period of time or leaving the kids I work with behind is not something I am ready to do. Saying bye to people is just not my thing, never has been and never will be.
My family and I are a really tight knit. They are crazy, loud, and joke around a lot (they are also loving and supportive of course) and that’s why I love them. There are times where we just hang out in the kitchen while my mommy is cooking, and just act a fool, play music and reminisce about the past. This would last until the early hours of the next morning.
How could I possibly say bye to that?
They mean the world to me and missing them is something that’s inevitable, but knowing that I can’t visit them every time I miss them is driving me crazy. I don’t know if I can be away from them for that long. When I left them for the first time to go to college in another state, I realized I developed a small yet noticeable separation anxiety. Just like before, I am going to be miss them like crazy.
I am going to miss the screaming, the jokes, the silliness and of course the kitchen gathering. I will miss out on my nine year old sister growing up, I won’t be able to help my other sister with her college applications. And due to the fact that my travel has no end date, I won’t be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I have yet to miss one.
It almost seems as though I have to put my family on the “back burner” while I’m traveling. If that is the case, it’s going to be really difficult, especially because they have always been in the forefront.
How did I deal with these feelings when I left for college? I mean how am I doing it now, I live in Boston now while they are in NYC. How did I leave them before?
Friendships Last a Lifetime
When I befriend someone, it’s a friendship that I plan to last forever. My good friends soon become family, my brothers, and sisters. I love them dearly, and would do anything to help them in any way I can. My longest and still going strong friendship is 16 years old.
While I am traveling, I fear that my friendships won’t be the same as they would if I was still home or at least nearby. What if those friendships cease to exist? I fear that my friends will be just memories or even worst, figments of my imagination.
My Job is my Hobby
I know most people that travel, travel because they are tired of their 9-5 job, can’t stand being in a cubicle or doing something that is plain old boring, but not me. I absolutely love my job, what I do, and the people I serve. The funny thing is I consider my job to be a hobby. Why? Because I am doing something I love and I’m passionate about (plus the word job just has a negative connotation to it). If you know me, you know that I love helping others, especially the youth and that’s exactly what I am doing.
My AmeriCorps*VISTA position, allows me to not only expose college student to the idea of volunteering and doing community service but also providing them with the opportunity to actually volunteer through Service Learning. This position has also blessed me with the opportunity to work directly with the youth at a Boys and Girls Clubs.
Not only do I have a hobby as a job, I have awesome supervisors and foolish, crazy, funny, and passionate co-workers. But what I love most are the kids, my kids as I like to call them. It’s going to hurt my heart so much to say bye on my last day. They are not too happy about me leaving either. One of them asked me why couldn’t I extend my job for just one more year, while another teen even refuse to talk to me.
How can I leave the youth that I look forward to seeing every day, the teens that make my job a mystery, the same kids that can make a bad day a good day? How can I possibly say bye to those sweet yet sometime “sour” teenagers?
Am I really walking away from my family, friends, and kids? Could I really leave the life that I invested so much time in creating?
The answer is NO.
Wait, does that mean you aren’t traveling anymore?
No, it just means that I have to find a way to not leave them behind and still travel.
Just because I am traveling doesn’t mean I have to cut ties with this ending chapter. It’s not the end but a beginning.
What’s really helping me tame these up and down emotions and questions right now, is the past. I realized literally today, at this moment, while I am writing this post that I have gone through this before, maybe not to the same extent, but I did.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane
Once upon a time, I was an 18 year old teenager about to attend college in a faraway land called Boston. At the time, I was freaking out because of several reasons; I knew and only loved NYC, I thought my high school basketball teammates, who I consider to be my family would fall apart because we were all growing up and going to college all around the USA. Also, because I was moving millions of miles (this is how I saw the distance back then, so bare with me) away from family to a faraway land where I knew no one.
Fast Forward to my graduation
I did it. I survived my fears, my worries and accomplished the things I thought I wouldn’t. I made not only new friends but more friends. They helped ease the process, and along the way, they became lifelong friends. Now, seven years after my high school graduation I am still close to my H.S. basketball family even though I don’t speak or see them every day. In fact, this upcoming weekend, I will be going to a get together with them.
When it came to my family, I didn’t see them all the time especially when I was playing basketball, I barely had free time. Yes, I did miss them, but guess what? They didn’t stop loving me, I wasn’t alienated, or felt out of the loop because I didn’t know what was going on with everyone, if anything they filled me in throughout the year. My four year old sister at the time, grew up and I got pictures and videos sent to me. It was as if I didn’t miss a thing. My other sisters called me for advice constantly throughout my four years. I practically got phone calls from my family every day.
In this day and age with technology constantly evolving, it’s easier to stay in contact with everyone, we can text, call, Skype or blog. Before, we would have had to settle for a postcard, and a letter once in the blue moon.
Back to the Present
It wasn’t a goodbye then and it’s not going to be one now. It’s a “see you guys later”, it’s an opportunity to show my mommy, aunty, and sisters that there’s more to life than just paying bills as well as there is a world beyond NY and Haiti. It’s the chance to do something new, something I always wanted to do.
All I have to do is trust in the love that is the foundations of my friendships and the reason why my family and I are so close. Love does not stop because of distance, if anything it makes the heart grow fonder, and because of that I will appreciated and love my family and friends even more when I get back home to visit.
I also believe that the love they have for me will help them to be supportive and understanding of my choice to travel instead of living the “typical” life.
But I mean is this past stuff really helping you get through this?!?
Yes actually, more than I could imagine. Why? Because I know now (more like remember now) that it’s been done before, not by someone else but by me. I did it before and I can do it again.
I not going to say that when the day comes, all my fears will disappear (now that is not realistic). If anything that shit might get worst, I might even have a panic attack. Better yet, I can guarantee that I am going to cry like a little baby.
But that’s okay though!
I am now accepting that these feelings are normal, (at least they are in my head) they are justified, and they are exactly what I need to realize that it’s time to start my next chapter.
“Fear is good. Fear tells us what we have to do. The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.” -Steven Pressfield
Yes, I am afraid of this next big chapter in my life but it just means that this is something that I absolutely must do and have to do. I understand that saying “see you later” to my friends, family and kids is not the end of the world, but rather the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
Am I a wimp for feeling this way or is this normal? Where you ever in a similar situations?