If I’m going to be completely honest (and isn’t that the point of this?), I must tell you that when I moved to France after college, it wasn’t all sparkly lights and hot chocolate.
The truth is, I was terrified.
I was terrified to leave Texas, my family, my friends, and my boyfriend at the time. I was scared of moving to a new country without knowing a soul and living on my own for nine months. I was scared of the new culture, the distance from home, and all of the other million unknowns.
But I packed my bags and went to France anyway.
Thankfully, the residents of my new charming French town were kind, welcoming, and provided me with an apartment, rent free. My French speaking skills improved almost overnight. Once my teaching assistantship began, I built friendships with a few of the teachers and was invited to their homes for dinner parties with authentic French cuisine- mussels, baguettes, cheeses, wines, and crepes. On the weekends I traveled. That was my favorite part of the entire experience. Spain, England, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal. Teaching wasn’t so bad either. I grew to love my students and enjoyed being part of their learning each day. Before I knew it, my time was up and I was sad to return home.
This all sounds like a great accomplishment because I conquered my fears and now I have this amazing experience to look back on, but the outcome didn’t have the same intense satisfaction you normally associate with conquering your fears. Not at all.
Instead of feeling proud of myself, I feel ashamed. I’m ashamed that the only reason I boarded the plane was because I knew it would make other people happy. I didn’t trust myself to consider how I felt or what I wanted. I was scared and the only thing that pushed me forward was knowing I wasn’t disappointing my parents and my friends.
I’ve thought about that moment a lot over the past few years. It makes me sad to realize that I let so many moments pass without making a strong, important decision for myself. I was letting fear control me and passing the responsibility off so that I wouldn’t have to own it.
This is part of the reason I chose BRAVE as my word for 2011.
I want my life to be built on my own terms. I want to follow my dreams, not my mom’s, my sister’s, or my best friend’s.
I want to uncover my sense of self, my courage, and learn to trust my heart.
I’m hoping that at the end of these next five months I will have a firmer grasp on exactly what my dreams are and what my best life looks like. I’m hoping that, with the help of this amazing tribe of women, I will strengthen my confidence and feel a bit more sturdy when I make a decision that isn’t fully supported by those whose opinions matter most. I’m hoping that I will have embraced the idea that is my life and I need to live it boldly.
Since this is still a bit new to me, I’m starting small. Treating myself to warm baths and a good book after a long day at work. Journaling. Daydreaming. Brainstorming.
Maybe I’ll go back to school. Maybe I’ll write a book, or finally commit to those yoga teacher training classes that seem so intimidating, but full of great possibility. Maybe I’ll look into owning my own business since the goal of a private practice has been floating around my head since graduate school.
I see glimpses of how I want my future to be, filled with authentic joy and happiness. Now I just have to figure out how all of the pieces fit together.