My mom laughed when I told her I wanted to go to Europe. For whatever reason, I felt a distinctive tug to go and — I don’t know — explore, find myself, spread my wings, eat food…whatever. “You?” She smiled, “Honey, you’re so shy.”
She was right. I have always had this paralyzing fear of the world — and for no reason other than I am happily an introvert that would rather curl up with a book on a Saturday night than go out to a club. I don’t blame my mom for laughing. If I had really listened to myself, I would’ve laughed too. I would never make it.
My professor asked what I wanted to do with my life. It was a question I had gotten too many times in my life, and my rehearsed answer was “work in a publishing house.” It was true — I even had my job title picked out: Acquisitions Editor. My professor, Laura (I’ll tell you more about her awesomeness later), nodded. “Where?” I hadn’t quite thought of that. Wasn’t picking out a job title enough? I shrugged. Laura asked, “Would you ever live abroad?” I blinked and answered, “Sure,” because I was scared and I wanted her to interrogate anyone else but me and that was a quick answer. “What about Ireland?” she asked. “Okay,” I said.
In front of the security gate, flanked by my mom and my older brother. In a few hours, my flight would take off and I’d fly far far away from everything I’d ever known for three months. I was terrified. There was nothing I wanted more than my mom to tell me I didn’t have to go. Instead, she kissed me, told me to be safe and that she missed me already.
Duplex in Dundrum, Ireland. I was handed a stack of thick manuscripts of everything from poetry to fantasy, from history to crime novels. “Read them,” they instructed, “let us know if any of them are good.” And so I read, and throughout the course of the summer, decided the fate of over 200 want-to-be-novelists.
Cubicle. I work at a college in southern Michigan now. I’ve been away from MSU for over a year, and from Ireland for almost two. I’ve learned a lot since I came back, but I think one of the biggest things I learned is even though I lost a lot of things because I went overseas (my then-best friends, my then-boyfriend), I’ve gained so much more. I know I am capable of so much more, I know so much more about the professional world, and most importantly: I know (and like!) myself. I like who I have become because I took a leap of faith based on a hunch I had when I was 18, and based off a professor’s whimsical suggestion.
It all boils down to this: if something deep down is telling you something, trust it. It might be outlandish and out of your comfort zone and your mom may roll her eyes at you, but you know what? That’s okay. Because I did what I thought I needed to do and it was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. It changed my life, as cliche as that is. I took a leap of faith.
Maybe you should too.