I’m sitting in the Boston airport trying to process all that’s happened in the last 9 weeks. The bustle of the airport, the smells of the food court, the nauseating pit in my stomach – I just don’t have the mental capacity to tell you what Belfast has meant to me. I might not have that fully sorted out for a few weeks or even months. Maybe in a year, I’ll know for sure how the Belfast experience has changed me. But for now, here’s what I’ve got:
I knew before I left that this would be a significant event in my life, but I could not have predicted how proud I would feel at the end of it. Do you remember when I said that this was my year to be fearless? I really took that to heart. I did things that truly scared me, not the least of which was living in a foreign country for 2 months.
I walked across a high rope bridge in high winds – TWICE.
I sang karaoke in front of a sassy tranny and a room full of strangers.
I paid for things with an American credit card (everyone in the UK hates that, FYI).
I actively volunteered to do things that I was scared of just to challenge myself – and I was fine! I even had fun!
But there was a sense of fearlessness that was subconscious as well. I have long considered myself “not good at making friends.” I’m afraid to approach people and I feel like I’m socially awkward. I have an imposter complex and I always feel like I’m the odd one out. So I don’t put myself out there, at least not all the way. I’m not always authentic is what I’m saying.
But on this trip, I was authentic. I couldn’t be anything else – we worked long hours and were so stressed, I didn’t have energy to keep my boundaries up. I was just – me. Though it may not sound like it, that was fearlessness at work! And I was fine!
I made friends. Good friends, people who I can’t wait to see again, who genuinely liked me. I’m kind of blown away by that. And I caught up with an old friend at the end of my trip, someone who REALLY knows me and knows all the things I’ve been through. She knew me when I was the worst version of myself – it doesn’t get much more authentic than that. And she still likes me anyway.
The most important take away for me from this trip is that I was, ultimately, just fine. I could leave everyone I know and everything I love with just a backpack and a suitcase and I would be just fine. I could start a new job in a new place where I don’t know anyone, I could live on my own again, I could start over – and I would be just fine.
That’s an incredibly powerful thing to learn about myself. Now I just have to remember it.