I found out some news about 6 days before I left for the other side of the world on a trip I had been planning for months. It was the type of information that’s life changing; the kind that makes you feel like you’re walking outside your body for days on end. I couldn’t eat much, I was caught staring out my office window, I had friends calling and texting me consistently, I kept myself from tearing up at a moments notice by just getting outside and going for a walk.
There was even one night that it was raining and I knew I just needed to. get. the. hell. out. after my heart and mind started racing. So, I circled our little community pool area that’s on a concrete island of sorts in the middle of our neighborhood, umbrella in one hand, tissues in the other. I just circled until I could breathe better again.
All this and I needed to hop on a 14 hour flight alone in less than a week for a trip I’d been planning for months…
I’ve mentioned 2015 was an incredibly tough year for me and this event was one of the major contributors. I contemplated for only a moment about canceling another trip but knew, in my gut, that would be the wrong decision. This event wasn’t caused by me, it was something that happened to me and canceling a trip would have zero effect on changing the circumstances. I needed to accept that I’d have to cope with this news on long flights and in new foreign territories.
This is my roundabout way of telling you that life is so often split up into Befores and Afters…and you can often negotiate the After portion. Before you went to high school. After you graduated college. Before you met your wife. After you got married. Before you had kids. After you pulled your hair out.
Things like that.
This was one of those Before and After moments.
I had to choose, in those 6 days, to not let the After define my trip I had so desperately needed, especially now. It was an active choice, let me tell you. Emotions were running high (still are if I’m being honest – it comes in waves) and I knew I needed to focus.
So I typed my little fingers off until I felt better. Oh, I typed and typed. I watched sappy Hallmark Christmas movies alone, in an empty house with an often empty glass of wine.
I cried. You know, that ugly cry that only your cat gets to see. I chose exactly what I was packing in my carry-on for 2 weeks, even down to packing and repacking meticulously 3 separate times. I reminded myself that the solo portion of my trip would be life-defining in itself and I needed to power through. I went through old photos on Facebook and smiled.
I changed the direction of my circumstances. Sure, albeit, temporarily. But it worked. I had a wonderful, much needed trip that absolutely, without a doubt, changed my life for the better.
I know many of you may be thinking that it would be easy to just take a jaunt to a foreign land when shit hits the fan (hey that sort of rhymed!), but that’s not how I operate. I’m not good at compartmentalizing my emotions. I want to analyze them, work through it and learn a lesson from it. There just wasn’t enough time to do that in this situation before I left and boy, was I pissed about it. I knew I’d be thinking about it a lot on my trip I was so looking forward to. I didn’t want it to damper my time away and truth be told, I knew it would at times. (And it did.)
So, I actively chose perseverance. I put my big girl pants on and boarded a plane alone that flew me over a giant pond for 14 hours and plopped me right where I needed to be.
Sure, there were tears that came up at weird moments. Like, you know, in the middle of a vineyard on Waiheke Island, New Zealand with my girlfriends closely watching over me, ready to offer comforting words…or more wine. Or on my flight to Hong Kong while watching Ricki and the Flash after the flight attendant continued to fill my glass with champagne. (PSA: Don’t watch that movie if you have a tumultuous relationship with your mother and are drinking champagne at 40,000 feet.)
In those moments where you question if you should take care of yourself amidst chaos — do it. God, trust me, do it. Persevere. Tell your emotions you will deal with them as they come, but for you, for now, you’re putting your feet up in business class, cheers-ing to what you just went through and enjoying yourself regardless of the shit thrown your way.
You’re worth it.