Hi, friend. By now you are on your way, driving off to your new life, leaving behind everything that’s been familiar and comfortable to you for the past 19 years. I was about a year younger than you when I made my first Big Move, and I cried for two weeks before I left. I spent the whole plane ride thinking I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and that I was giving up everything that had or would ever make me happy.
If you’re anything like I was, you pictured just not doing it. Saying no, staying here, continuing to live your familiar and comfortable life. If you’re anything like I was, picturing that scenario instantly filled you with relief. Everything would be fine. You could just not go.
But behind the relief there was a niggling doubt, like a tiny worm digging itself into an apple. I am here to tell you the doubt is what will stay. The relief will fade, so much more quickly than you expected, but the doubt will grow and feed and thrive off of the fear that made you stay.
Last night at your going away party you told me you were scared and I said, “You should be scared,” and everyone laughed because what a ridiculous thing to say to a 19-year-old kid moving away for the first time. What I meant was it’s good to be scared. It’s good to make decisions that scare you, to be filled with fear but do it anyway, the true definition of courage.
Life is short, but it is also long. As the great Dwight Schrute from the The Office said, “Life is short? False. It’s the longest thing you’ll ever do.” It’s tempting to think you only have, on average, about 80 years to do everything you want in life, but it’s important to remember that you have 80 YEARS. Go DO things, go SEE things, the world is big and you’ve got time.
Ok, two last quotes, because why say it myself when it’s already been said so well. Four years ago I was packing to move to Washington, D.C, once again stewing in doubt, because by the way that doesn’t go away no matter how many times you make Big Moves. My mom came up to my room and handed me a card with this quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” That quote got me in the car.
And finally, from my grandpa, the quote that got me in the car that first time when I was 18 and scared out of my mind: “Life’s an oyster. Crack it!”
Photo (Flickr CC) by Abi Skipp