Many people have complimented my bravery to venture out into the world, away from everything I know, into the unknown, with no set plan ahead. The first time someone described me as brave, I was shocked to hear it. And then I kept hearing it – I heard it from strangers and friends and even family. I expected to hear it from the people who didn’t know me at all, who led different lives, who didn’t travel much or understand the draw. But to hear it from the people who know me best, who are like-minded, who also have the occasional travel bug, was something I didn’t expect.
The definition of brave is “ready to face and endure danger or pain.” The irony of describing me as brave to leave home is that I am not fearful of going abroad, I am fearful of staying behind. At this point, the idea of starting over fills me with more hope than fear; I am hopeful that the journey ahead will make me wiser and stronger and fuller than I’ve ever been or known I could become. The logistics of getting from place to place is not what requires bravery.
What I’ve endured in the past year to get me to this very point is what has required bravery. I’ve been brave to accept the distance in my marriage, to separate from a partner of 11 years despite the love that still exists, to be on my own for the first time since college, to lean into the desire to define my individual identity, to accept I don’t really know my individual identity and then to realize it’s worth spending all the time I have left figuring it out, to give up the nest I nurtured, to let go of all future visions of a house & kids & growing old with the only person I’ve ever imagined those things with, to reduce my material possessions to a 4×5 storage unit, to pack all of my daily essentials into 2 pieces of luggage, to make career decisions based on wellness over ego, to let go of people & ideas & aspirations that no longer serve me, to make the choices that are best for me and only me, to define my core values, to seek out communities that meet my core values, to stop waiting for the answers to appear, to stop having set expectations for the future, to accept that everything is going to be different moving forward, to be open to a life I’ve never imagined, to be open to not planning, to be open to it all.
It doesn’t require bravery to travel. It requires bravery to endure all of the people, social pressures and mental blocks that scare the hell out of you and ultimately prevent you from getting to what actually excites you. Within one year, I faced all of the things that once scared me. But in doing so, opened up the space and freedom to pursue a lifestyle that I wasn’t sure would ever be possible. I could never imagine the possibility because of the physical & mental attachments I held so tight.
Now that I’ve let it all go, for the first time in my life, I can’t imagine what the future looks like. Rather than filling it with plans or expectations, I want to leave it wide open to infinite possibility for as long as possible. I don’t see this part of the journey as brave, I see it as an awakening that exists when bravery is no longer needed.
– Jessika, GlobeKicker