The Return of High School Fear
I woke up today, still fuzzy-headed from last night’s leaving drinks. Steve left the computer switched on, as usual, with the London weather page loaded so I could pick an appropriate outfit for work. But I’m not going to work today. It’s 9:30 am and I’m sitting here in my underwear and my Ke$ha concert t-shirt writing about not working.
Potentially I will look back at this time in my life and see it as a destructive, insane period where I sabotaged my grownupness and ran away from life. Or it will be the greatest thing I have ever done. I have to believe it will be the latter. I am leaving my home, my friends and most importantly my beloved husband. I will board a plane and land in a new country where I know no one. Where I don’t speak the language and where I will sleep in someone else’s house. The thought of it makes my lungs freeze as they struggle to free themselves from icy rubber bands of doubt. My hands shake and I sweat a little more when I think about how high I am jumping and that there is no net to catch me. But I am hopeful I’ll make some new friends, that I will like my host family, but most of all, I hope to make a change and everything else I’m worried about kind-of feels like superficial bullshit, but it’s not. It’s what I’ve worked so hard to have, only to give it away.
I’m finally getting some recognition for a job well done at work, I have an incredible group of close friends whom I love and value, I have Steve, who is an unbelievably wonderful and supportive partner in life and I finally feel like London is my home. I know that these things will not change when I am gone. That when I land; the air will still smell familiar, that my friends will still be amazing, that I can go back to my job. But will I have changed? What will I want when I return? Who will I be?
I’m not as resilient as I once was. I’m no longer the girl who packed all her worldly belongings in one suitcase and moved to NYC without knowing anyone; with tunnel vision and gripped by a fierce dream. Today I’m not sure I’d arrive in London alone and have the courage to wander the streets looking for a hostel and then sleep in a room crowded with 11 other weary bodies. I feel like I’ve outgrown her. That I’ve become cynical, materialistic and co-dependent. I’m worried about how much I’m worrying and that worries me even more.
Without others to vouch for me I often make a dubious first impression. People find me curt and abrasive, though it is never my intention. I just lack patience and don’t suffer fools gladly. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my face will never lie to you. These are things I work on every day, but what if I’m the one no one wants to eat lunch with? What if I put people off with my overly-tactile compulsions and my jagged-edged accent? I hear only too often from people that “I didn’t like you at first, but…” and of course there was my TV debut where I was voted out after spending 5 minutes with the people who did the deed. I worry that I won’t be liked. That I’ll be the oldest one there, everyone will know and that I won’t be given a chance. I tell myself that these anxieties are natural, that when I get there everything will be fine and I have to believe that. I just have to.