Feeling the fear

Well I’ve done it.

After talking about it for the last few months, I’ve finally given up the idea of getting another job any time soon and decided to get on a plane instead.  While throwing it all in and heading to the airport isn’t exactly a unique experience for me (see: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008), this time it’s different.  This time, it’s not a great way of getting away from a place that I no longer want to live.

Instead, it’s a convenient excuse to take an extended break from a place that I have really come to love (Melbourne in general, and my neighbourhood in particular) and have every intention of returning to.  I don’t know whether this difference is the reason, or whether it’s just the usual pre-travel jitters, but whatever it is I’ve been feeling the fear from the minute that I made this choice.

Stomach cramps?  Check.  Vague nausea?  Check.  Sleeping badly?  Check, although that’s hardly unusual.  There’s no doubt about it, I’m a walking, talking textbook case of the physiological symptoms of stress.  I’m doing all of the things that I usually do in this situation despite knowing better.

Making a big long list of all the important things to think about, and then not doing any of them.  Procrastinating ‘flicking the switch’ – in this case, walking down to the rental agency and handing in my lease termination.  Spending hours researching all of the fantastic places that I’d like to go to, but with a strange sense of detachment – almost like I’m checking out these places on behalf of somebody else.  It’s really quite bizarre.

But here’s the thing.  Despite all the above, despite not wanting to give up my great apartment and risk not being able to move back into this neighbourhood when I return, despite not wanting to strain the friendships that I’ve worked hard to create and maintain since moving here, despite knowing that I’m going to miss my family and worrying that my little nephew will forget what I even look like … despite all of that, I know that I’m going to do it anyway.  In a few weeks time, I’ll be at the airport, passport in hand and emotions going through the roof.

Why?  Because travel is an addiction, and like all addictions it needs to be fed regularly.  Because I know that once I’m on the plane most of the worries and concerns that I had will melt away, probably in a haze of the warm Heineken that seems to be an airline staple.  And most of all, because I know that travelling is an experience that can’t be replicated any other way, that makes me a better person for doing it and that will ultimately revitalise and inspire me for when I do return in a few months time.  I love my life in this city, but I need my life on the road to make it complete.

There will still be plenty of doubts – am I really doing the right thing?  Can I travel solo for months successfully, having not done it for anything like that length of time in the past?  Will these few months of awesomeness make returning to the ‘real world’ just that much harder when I get back?  I don’t have the answers to these questions – and I guess that’s the point.

Life thus far has seemed to be about pushing my boundaries and learning what I’m capable of, accepting the risk of failure as part of the journey towards something even bigger and brighter.  I know of no better way of doing this than with a pack on my back, and ultimately I suppose that I’d rather have a more challenging life where I’m often feeling uncomfortable, than wallow contently within my comfort zone and never really live at all.

So that’s it.  South East Asia and Europe, here I come.  Melbourne, this isn’t goodbye, merely adieu.  I’ll sure miss you when I’m gone, but will have plenty of great stories to tell you when I return, I promise.  See you soon!

If you’re going to be in SE Asia in June / July / August, or Europe in August / September and want to catch up for a beer and to make up tall tales, let me know!

9 Responses to “Feeling the fear

  • Great post Dave. I recently purchased my one-way ticket to Bangkok and will be getting on a plane in less than two weeks. I still have a lot of stuff I need to do before setting off, so it distracts me from the trepidation I might otherwise be feeling. I’m sure it will really hit me when I walk off the plane in Thailand.

    I’m down for a beer, I will be in SEA the same time you are so hit me up.

  • So good to read others are feeling the same way…even if we’re not feeling great! Between reading @theaussienomad’s post about his last day of work, @suzyguese’s most recent post, and then my most recent post and now yours, it’s nice to know I’m in good company!

  • @Vincent – I think keeping busy is a great strategy, it seems to have worked well for me today at least. 😉 Let’s make that beer happen – somewhere!

    @Heather – yup I think we’re all going through or have gone through the emotional rollercoaster. It’s silly, as I know that once I’m actually doing it, everything will be fine. Sadly my brain doesn’t seem to be able to override my heart right now…

  • Ian [EagerExistence]
    8 years ago

    Dave! You’re on your way! Yay!!
    So many questions, but I guess I’ll ask them on Twitter or try and find in your blog posts. One to get you thinking: how much have you planned ahead? When you get off the plane in your first destination, do you have anything booked? And for how long?

    I especially like this part of the post “Because travel is an addiction, and like all addictions it needs to be fed regularly.”
    what other addictions are you feeding? I always thought addiction was a negative thing.. But you make it sound worth getting hooked 🙂

  • Congrats again on the decision. Travel really is an addiction – you can try and fight it for as long as possible, but you’ll end up doing it again once you’ve caught the travel bug. One thing is for sure, I’m glad I have it . Good luck planning your trip and handing in the lease termination!

  • @Ian – feel free to ask away, on Twitter, here, email or whatever. Always happy to help if I can! To answer – planning ahead so far has been utterly minimal, and will probably stay that way. I’ve found SE Asia one of the easiest places in the world to travel around on the fly. I’ll book a flight in and a night’s accommodation to give me somewhere to tell the taxi driver when I’m jetlagged, a flight out from somewhere else a few months later, and the rest will be pretty much figured out on the go I think.

    Hehe, no other addictions to feed – just travel! I sometimes wonder if taking up smoking crack would have been a cheaper option… 😛 I’m totally hooked – but it’s all good!

    @Matt – thanks mate! I’ve almost given up fighting the addiction now … better to just go with it and enjoy, rather than spend your life battling with it I reckon! Lease termination has been handed in now – I’m outta here!

  • I am also feeling the fear at the moment with not very long to go and you really hit the nail on the head when you said ‘a strange sense of detachment – almost like I’m checking out these places on behalf of somebody else. It’s really quite bizarre’

    This is how I feel all the time, people expect me to be really excited 24/7 they don’t realise how strange/scary/stressful it can be!

    (Of course it’s all worth it in the end when you’re lying, beer in hand on a beach somewhere in SEA 😉 )

  • Hey Kate – yeah it’s a weird feeling. I’ve been sitting here for the last couple of hours deciding whether asking a local to take me around the Mekong Delta on the back of his motorbike for a few days would be a good idea or not! It sounds awesome … and yet still doesn’t feel like it’ll actually be me on the back of bike if I do it!

    I’m all over the place at the moment – up and down like a yoyo. Lucky I’ve got alcohol, I guess…

    You’re right about the beer in Asia, of course! When are you going to be there?

  • Stephanie
    6 years ago

    ‘a strange sense of detachment – almost like I’m checking out these places on behalf of somebody else. It’s really quite bizarre’

    I feel like this now, I have made my mind up to travel and just see where it takes me and normal life just seems like a lie, I feel like I should be somewhere else at this moment. It really is bizarre!

    4/5 months to go…

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