How many times in your life have you been paralyzed by fear of the unknown?
For me, I have gone through it many times. The first time was my graduation from high school the night before I left for college. Of course my age and immaturity had no frame of reference for leaving home and doing something on my own. However, hindsight shows me it was one of the best changes I experienced. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The next big change came with my graduation from Cal Poly. I think back to my senior year and feel nostalgic and scared. I remember having the best time of my life, but I could feel that looming cloud of change coming at me fast. I was on a time clock to get in all the fun and experience of college before it was over. I loved working at the radio station and knew that would be coming to an end. This was before we all had computers, smart phones and social media, so I was overwhelmed thinking I might not ever see many of my friends again. Add to the stress that I had taken a job all the way across the country. I look back at that decision and wonder if I really wanted to experience the east coast or if I had some kind of uncanny foresight to know if I didn’t move that far away, I would never grow out of college. That year was extremely hard for me. Being a California native experiencing one of the hardest winters Connecticut had seen in decades was a huge shift. I was homesick, lonely, and eventually moved back a year later, but that experience did make me grow up a little bit. Little did I know that even harder times were to come.
Fast forward nine years later. I was living in San Francisco, working a great job at CNET and loving the life I had built. I had a two bedroom apartment that had a view people pay thousands to see on vacation. I had my friends, I walked to work everyday, I dated, and played lots of sports. I was happy. Overnight it seemed to disappear with the economy. Another black cloud was forming. It was big, black and very stormy. layoffs happened and I was lost. CNET had been my life for four years. I didn’t know how to get a job in a city that didn’t have any jobs. I took one that made me so unhappy I craved pineapple from the stress and just wanted to escape. Eventually I was able to see that I needed to leave SF. I quit my job, gave notice on my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and went on a road trip around the country. While it was the best decision I ever made–I spent three months on the open road visiting friends around the country and seeing what the good ‘ole US of A was like outside of my SF bubble–it was a decision that paralyzed me in the beginning because I couldn’t help but think of every possible thing that could go wrong. I would run out of money, my car would break down, I would be assaulted in a quiet parking lot of a remote hotel, I get lost (before Garmins and GPS). The bad stuff kept me up at night. It wasn’t easy to pack up ten years of my life, put it in storage, and say goodbye to that life. I knew many of the friends I had would move on with their lives and while I wouldn’t be forgotten, I wouldn’t be on their minds. This was still way before Facebook. I had minor panic attacks at 2 in the morning as I looked at the boxes I was packing. What was I doing??? If I leave SF, I won’t ever be able to come back. My apartment had been under rent control and I knew I would never find a similar deal. I still remember the day I gave the key back to the building owner, looked out the window one last time and walked down the stairs to my car. I was so sad, yet part of me was relieved and excited. I had a couple months of being on the open road to look forward to and enjoy. I didn’t have rent, a car payment, credit cards or anything but gas, lodging, food and health insurance to think about. It felt like freedom.
Better yet, I had weathered the storm. I had conquered the fear of the unknown. Now I knew what to expect. I think the hardest part was actually saying goodbye to my home of a decade. I loved that little apartment. I still, to this day, think of it fondly because of the memories it has provided me.
Now, there is a black cloud looming once again–a cloud of storm and instability. The political climate and tension doesn’t help but I’m feeling that paralysis kicking–that fear of the unknown. But now I have experience to fall back on. I have always landed on my feet with this kind of change. Even in the roughest of weather and scariest of turmoil, I come out the other side better for it and that’s how I know I will weather this storm on the horizon. I am going to get through it like I have the other times. I know a year from now, I will look back and wonder why I was so nervous and scared. I can’t see clearly what these changes are going to do or mean, but they are going to be big. Might be a new job, a move to Austin, or meeting someone I actually like to date. I really don’t know. I do know, however, that I will be just fine.
I will enjoy this adventure wherever it takes me.