Change: It Does a Body Good

Written by Katharine

“What happens when we lose the things that anchor us?”The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

My ‘anchor’ consisted of a mediocre job, a struggling nonprofit organization, unsatisfying friendships, and a burning feeling of inadequacy.  It triggered my Quarterlife Crisis and I started asking myself those tough questions – What do I really want out of life?  Am I really happy?  Will I ever be enough?

“What if, instead of grasping at something to hold on to, we pull up our roots and walk away?”

I always thought the idea of walking away from something [or someone] was admitting defeat, giving up, or taking the easy way out.  I thought that by walking away, you became weak and vulnerable to everything [and everyone] around you.  But walking away from an unsatisfying, mediocre lifestyle that I was living in Philadelphia forced me to answer those tough questions and evaluate the self-destructing path I had created for myself.  It forced me to realize that I wasn’t happy; I wanted something more fulfilling and gratifying.

“Before, some places just seemed too far, too difficult to reach, but once you start traveling, you never want to stop.”

Prague was just the tipping point.  I want to backpack through Europe, lay on the beaches in South East Asia, explore South America, and take a Safari ride through an African Jungle.  I want to see every hidden gem and set foot on every continent (three down, four to go).

“What I found on the road was a tiny piece of myself.  These past few years I had survived my own personal disasters and realized I was strong enough … to live my life without fear or worry or doubt that nothing was going according to plan, as though such a plan ever existed in the first place.”

Traveling abroad for any significant amount of time truly changes your life.  As you adapt to the different cultures and lifestyles, you learn that you don’t need things like cable television or central air conditioning to survive (neither of which I had in Prague).  You begin to learn the difference between need and want, and you learn to find pleasure in simple things, like laughing from your soul and smiling just because. 

My life in the States was becoming too predictable – work, hockey, drink, sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat – and it really scared the shit out of me.  Is this really what my life has become?! Before I decided to go to Prague, I had a major anxiety attack.  The fear crippled me and I felt like I was chained to the floor.  I’m scared of becoming one of those people who settle for a mediocre life because they’re too afraid of being gutsy and taking risks.

I returned to the States briefly to get my visa and work permit approved by the U.S. Embassy to teach in Thailand, and by the second day that I was back in the City of Brotherly Love, I wanted to leave again to avoid falling back into a mundane, unsatisfying lifestyle that I once had.

I thought working through the culture shock of life in Prague would be difficult, but as it turns out, my biggest culture shock has been returning to the States and trying to fit in again.  Nothing changed since I left, and people don’t care about my stories now that I’m back.  A friend warned me about this over lunch.  I didn’t want to believe it, but as I started reconnecting with more friends and acquaintances, I discovered that he was right (I hate when he’s always right)I felt more lost returning to America than I did wandering the cobblestone streets of Prague.

I always thought that everyone around me was changing – new jobs, new relationships, making babies – but the truth is, I’m the one who’s changing, and everyone else is standing still, feet stuck in the cement.

Five months ago, my biggest fear was moving to Prague.  Those five months flew by, I survived living in Prague (and I truly loved it), and now my biggest fear is becoming inadequate, unhappy, and settling for mediocrity.

So much of my life has changed (for the better) in a short amount of time.  I guess sometimes change is exactly what we need to live our best life.

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