I’m coming to the realization that perhaps I have developed a bit of an adventurous spirit. Moving countries without any hesitation or even much soul-searching is perhaps an indication of this. Opportunity knocked, the chance for a wild new experience was available, so I embraced it and I am enjoying it. I have no idea how this will play out–I don’t know how long I will be in the UK and if I will stay here, move back to the US, or do something else entirely. I try not to plan things too far in advance any more, because you just never know what curve balls life is going to throw at you.
I was a bit of a study in contrasts as a child. An occasional brave daredevil, I loved nothing more than a good roller coaster. But for the most part, I was sensible and cautious. I was terrified of heights and could not stand to ride slowly in the air on a Ferris Wheel. The roller coasters must have been too fast for my fears to fully develop, while the slow motion of a Ferris Wheel or even worse, a gondola-style cable car, had me in a cold sweat. Overall, I would say that although I had the makings of an adventurous spirit underneath it all, fear and caution increasingly won and my life up to age 25 reflected the dominance of “safe” choices in all aspects of my existence, personal and professional. In retrospect, I can see that I was actually not very happy– the safe choices were made to keep me cocooned in a secure place but were actually making me miserable.
Then the unthinkable happened. I literally had my worst nightmare come true, and the person in the world who meant the most to me died in a car accident, in a manifestation of another fear that had paralyzed me since childhood. This had the immediate effect of crushing heartbreak, but a year or so later the longer-term effects began to clarify and my adventurous spirit started to re-emerge. It’s not that I’m not ever frightened any more, but I’m much less likely to take the “safe” choice and refuse to do something. Instead, I’m much more likely to grit my teeth and suffer through the white knuckles. Most importantly, I think this attitude has permeated all aspects of my life, making me embrace opportunities (travel, hobbies, relationships) that I never would have considered in the past.
My life has, as a result, taken on a richness that I never could have described or even imagined. There’s a boldness of action and expression that was certainly not there before; there’s less fear of rejection, or negative reaction, and more happiness in general. The most difficult lesson I’ve had to learn was to stop thinking I had the answers, stop thinking I knew the outcome in advance, and let myself just “Enjoy the Ride“.
Admittedly, some days it’s easier than others. Like everyone, I have my ups and downs. The rewards from taking great risks are amazing, but at times by opening yourself up you get hurt. That’s a risk you have to not only take, but embrace, as part of the risk itself. The pursuit of the elusive reward will include plenty of opportunities for pain. This is not actually a worldview that you can teach or even explain to someone else. I would not wish on my worst enemy the pain and suffering associated with my grandmother’s death. I can appreciate the lessons I learned from it and hope that others can find this little nugget of truth in a less heartbreaking manner. But perhaps that’s not humanly possible.
I will say, this journey of awakening has been a process, and it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Still I am a bit chicken on these slow moving heights contraptions. As a result of this residual fear, in all the time spent in the UK both before and after moving here, I have not yet managed to ride on the London Eye, although I would like to! I will happily enlist volunteers to go with me.