The Goal: Fly across the country by myself
The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support
So here’s the thing – I just took my first flight EVER at the age of 28. Yep, I did not go on the foreign language club trip in high school, no studying abroad in college, not even a spring break on some party island (although you probably wouldn’t have been able to pay me to do that last one #nerdlife). Given that I know babies who had been on more flights than me, I tended to shy away from offering up that piece of information when conversations would turn to travel:
“Oh I know, isn’t TSA such a drag?”
“That’s true, not much room in those seats!”
*Emphatically nodding head and widening eyes to show both empathy and understanding* (I’m very well-versed in this tactic)
Like most things that are just expected of a person, being someone who had not had the experience of flying left me with a lot of embarrassment – it didn’t help that when I did confess to my lack of flying I was often met with “WAIT, you have NEVER been on a PLANE?? How is that even POSSIBLE??”. Cut to me just shrugging my shoulders, mumbling “Yeah I don’t know umm just haven’t had the chance to?”, and feeling like I was not cultured enough, fun enough, rich enough, or interesting enough.
The truth is, I always had the desire to fly, but a combination of family influence, social anxiety, and financial roadblocks got in the way. In high school, I wanted to go on the trip to France and Spain that literally ALL of my close friends were on, but my parents weren’t comfortable with me flying from a safety standpoint (did I mention my mom is 66 years old and has never flown?). I had big ambitions of going abroad in college, but when I was accepted on a weeklong service trip to Belize, I got scared of what the experience might entail and gave up my spot. As a post-grad, I never seemed to have the money to go on more than weekend trips that were a car ride away, and at that point not having done it was making the reality of doing it seem much less possible (this happens to us in a lot of cases, unfortunately). Long story short – I wasn’t ever really afraid to fly itself, I just had let other factors take over. Until I decided late last year that I wouldn’t let them anymore.
My first flight was to the Dominican Republic for our friends’ wedding (hey, Werlins!). Again, I wasn’t really nervous for the flight, but the process around it: How do I check a bag? Where do I give my ticket? What happens if I get super clumsy and awkward in security and they think I’m nervous because I’m planning something terrible or that I’m on bath salts or something? Basically, how do I not let people know that I haven’t done this before?
In the end, everything went very smoothly and was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. It really helped that I had my boyfriend Brian there to help me relax – without making it look like I NEEDED help, of course (yeah, we have a lot to unpack there). The trip was great and definitely made me realize how much I had missed out on over the years.
Alright, so now you’ve gotten the long winded backstory, let’s settle in on the present…
A few months ago, I was in the midst of doing a lot of this self-reflecting, soul-searching, Mel Robbins-reading stuff when I came across a place called 1440 Multiversity. A yoga instructor I really admire had posted about doing a guest lecture there on her Instagram and seeing as I had no idea what it was, I decided to do a little more research.
In short, I was blown away by the beautiful location, holistic wellness approach, and opportunity to learn new things through daily yoga classes, meditation, nature hikes, guest speakers, cooking workshops, sustainability practices, and community. Oh, and it just happened to be in Santa Cruz, California…completely across the country from where I am in Vermont.
Now, I’ve done this before – find something online that looks cool, research the crap out of it, debate with myself about if I should do it, and eventually overanalyze it so much that I have no chance of saying yes. Approximate time spent: 87,385 hours per idea.
This time around, I paid attention to what I initially felt when I saw their website: excitement, energy, and “YES! This is exactly what I need!”. As I signed up for a Discovery Weekend and reserved my room, I decided I would figure out the details later. In a rare event, I let my initial feelings make the choice instead of rationalizing, analyzing, and logisticalizing (not a word, but shouldn’t it be?).
So that brings me to today, which is exactly 4 Fridays away from when I fly out in the wee hours of August 10th. My anxiety is currently not being too rambunctious, but from experience I know to expect the 2-3 days prior to be very challenging. That’s when all the final planning happens and I start wondering if this is really such a good idea…which was already decided by my slightly-healthier mind months ago. I plan to draw on the strategies I’ve learned through counseling and my yoga practice (as well as reminders from all of you!) to get me through. I’m still a little scared about flying alone, but I have chosen to focus on all of the evidence of solo travel being an empowering learning experience, especially for women. I’m excited to see a new ocean, wander through the Redwoods, meet likeminded people, eat great organic food, practice yoga in a beautiful setting, and seeing that I CAN do something way out of my comfort zone.
I will be writing about my experience during the trip in Part 2 and do a post-trip wrap up in Part 3. If you’ve ever taken a big trip by yourself, please let me know how it went in the comment section!
Thanks for reading!