In the last six years, I’ve moved away from home three times. And each time, I was wide-eyed, quietly nervous, and excited for the adventures that awaited me. The first attempt sent me only 275 miles north, while the second sent me over 6,500 miles east. Each attempt, regardless of distance, ended rather abruptly; bringing me back to Missouri with more questions than answers about my present and future.
Neither journey left me with a sense of regret, but feelings of insecurity certainly crept in from time to time. I wondered if my heart liked the idea of traveling more than traveling itself, and whether I truly had the willpower to make a life for myself somewhere unfamiliar.
Now, in my third and longest lasting stint, I believe I have turned a new leaf over. With my favorite person in the whole world taking every step in stride with me, together, we are slowly discovering a new sense of self. Another move will surely be in our near future, but it won’t be back home—or, it will be, but not the same “home” as the word used to represent.
During these moments, ones that will profoundly take my life in a new, unexpected direction, it has been difficult to express my feelings to others. And since I made my most recent move over a year ago, I want to bring light to these in a way that are less reflective and more happening in the moment.
My friend, Mackenzie, who has previously written about her international travels, has recently set off on another adventure. She has taken a one-way ticket to Paris, once again exploring the continent that continues to call for her over and over again.
Let her raw and honest feelings about moving across the Atlantic Ocean resonate with your personal experiences of discomfort. More importantly, let her honesty bring you confidence to express yourself fully regardless of the expectations of those posing the questions.
No one ever talks about how scary it is to move to a new place. Whenever I tell people that I’m moving to France in a handful of weeks, I’m constantly being asked, “how excited are you?!” And the thing is, as much as I am excited, I’m also completely terrified. How do you tell people that?
I’ve loved Europe for as long as I can remember. At age seven, I told everyone I encountered that I was going to live in London one day—and at age 21, I did just that. I never felt more at home in any place in my whole life as I did when I stepped off the plane, hailed a taxi at the airport, and settled into my temporary home in Regents Park back in 2013.
Before I left though, London was scary. Although London was the place that I have always known I was going to end up, it was still a scary thing to pack up a suitcase and actually have to live there. It was the place I marked on every map I had in my disposal. It was the accent I copied and pretentiously talked in when I met people I knew I’d never see again. But handing my boarding pass and passport to the woman at the airport, my heart jumped into my throat and the fear of “what if I hate it?” popped into my head.
However when I landed, London was like breathing a sigh of relief, and leaving it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
And now, the same feelings are crawling around my skin. It’s the fear of not knowing what is going to happen next. The fear of “what if I hate it?” comes popping into the back of my mind. Yeah, my Instagram is going to look killer for the next year. Yeah, my blog will have some travel content and advice that it has been seriously lacking for a while—but what if I hate it? What if I get homesick? What if I don’t make friends? What if I don’t pick up the language quickly? What if … What if … What if ...
I know these are normal fears and anxieties people have and I know I am so incredibly lucky to be given this opportunity in life, but next time someone asks me how excited I am, I’m going to answer honestly: “actually, I’m scared as hell.”
My name is Mackenzie and I'm the Social Media Manager at ALIVE Magazine and Sonder Travel. By day, I consume coffee like it’s my job. By night, I try to force my cat into loving me—and failing continuously. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @kenzieanntaylor and at my blog themodernfemme.net.