In two days I am leaving on a jet plane (oh the heart strings), this time to Mexico. I feel like I should be adding a million exclamation marks there because woo hoo, Mexico! And climbing,and, like, TACOS. And I am excited! But also kind of overwhelmed.
I decided I needed a pep talk. I needed a hug.
So here is that pep talk, for myself, for anyone who has ever felt like the world was huge and scary but oh how they wanted to be out there; a virtual hug.
Once upon a time, a time nearly seven years ago to be precise, a girl hugged her parents and her best friends goodbye at an airport in Adelaide, Australia. She was 23 years old and she was going to France.
Why France? When I look back on those days, I remember thinking of France as just this magical place of baguettes and romance and history. Growing up in Australia everything about Europe was mysterious and enticing to me – castles and stories and ancient little villages and CHEESE. I also had a broken heart, and there’s nothing like travelling across the globe to escape, to (try and) reinvent yourself, to start again.
So I got on that plane. I had never been on a long haul flight, never been to a country where English wasn’t the primary spoken language – never stayed in a hostel, never been so completely alone, with just my carefully packed backpack, my journal, my french dictionary.
I was so nervous but I remember mostly being excited.
Those first months in France were a blur of trying to get a grasp on the language, making new friends, navigating Nice, learning the art of travelling. I worked in a bar, which was definitely the best thing for my language skills but oh man it was stressful – working in hospitality anywhere can be stressful; try adding a language barrier and it’s a whole new ballgame.
I spent way too much money. (Thanks mama and papa for saving me). I made friends who I am still close to (in spirit, if not proximity) today. I learned how tough I can be, even if I’m scared, even if I’m lonely, even if I have no idea where I am going.
I learned that just because somewhere looks close on google maps doesn’t actually mean you can walk there. I learned how to actually save my money and travel smarter.
And now, here I am, nearly seven years later. Those first scary months I now look at with a kind of nostalgic fondness. Since then I have learned how to snowboard, how to climb. I can actually speak French, although I think my accent will forever be laughed at. I have discovered a love for mountains and a culture I barely even knew existed before. I’ve biked the west coast of the United States by myself, I’ve caught a plane to Peru on a whim and had some of the best adventures.
I never even dreamed I would be where I am right now, sitting in a coffee shop in a cute little mountain town in Canada, writing about the girl I used to be.
If that twenty three year old girl can get herself on a plane to France with dreams of baguettes and hope and adventure, so can I. (So you can you!!!) I just have to pack those bags (ahhhhh!!) and my Spanish dictionary (AHHH!!!) and take a deep breath, trust the universe and trust myself.
It’s going to be ok 🙂