In #thatmillenniallife, vinegar & wine-blogger Nat reflects on the challenges and advantages of living in today’s world as a millennial woman.
Each month, she’ll talk about topics that millennial women – and this millennial woman especially – think, agonize and feel insecure about.
Today’s topic: Am I being responsible or just running scared?
I’ve already announced that I will be moving to Tokyo in January 2019. My main goal, next to learning the language, is to, finally, have an experience abroad.
Despite my longtime love of travel, I have thus far not spent more than three weeks in another country, even though I had multiple chances to do so. I just chickened out every time. At the time, I always excused it with being frugal or responsible. Whenever a chance to go abroad came along, I told myself it “wasn’t the right time” and that I should “work for my future” now. But the fact of the matter is that I was always too scared to go. I’m a scared person in general, some of that amounting to my anxiety disorder and some of that also caused by being raised by a hard-working single mother that imbued me with the idea that safety is more important than excitement. Either way, I have chosen not to fulfill my dreams for a long time – until it grew to be an incredible burden.
On our flight home from Lisbon, our plane got into some pretty bad turbulence. The plane was losing altitude fast. My mom is as frightened of flying as I am and I held her hand, trying to calm her down. Suddenly, the emergency exit signs started flashing as our plane gave a strange thud. My heart jumped. I kept trying to assure my mom that everything was alright but I grew more and more panicked. I’ve been traveling by plane since childhood and I’d never heart that kind of sound. My throat felt tight. I wasn’t sure whether I was having a panic attack or whether the pressure was falling in the cabin.
I had three realizations: one, having traveled solo for some years now, I was glad that I wasn’t on my own. Dying during an accident and not being able to say goodbye to the people I loved is a big anxiety trigger for me.
Two, I was incredibly upset that I would not get to see my boyfriend and grandparents again.
And three…I wasted my life. I tried to think of all that I’ve accomplished, have that moment of “my life flashing before my eyes”, but nothing came to me. I realized if I died now, I wouldn’t be content with the life I’d lived.
I’m not going to act as if my life is worthless. I’ve experienced many beautiful things and been blessed in many ways. But I realized that by constantly working for the tomorrow, I never took a moment to make myself happy in the now.
I spent years struggling with burn out. I still do. Every year, I’d get put on sick leave for a few weeks, every year I’d return to my old habits, proud of myself that I was “working hard”.
Recently, after being put on sick leave once again, I had a realization:
This is just going to repeat itself each year until I die.
I wasn’t making any changes to my life or mindset. Every time I’d get put on sick leave, I’d dream up something to change my life for the better. But, of course, life „got in the way“ every time and I’d give up on that dream again, patting myself on the back for not following my impulses and instead „working for my future“.
But what kind of future is that? I don’t want a future in which I am constantly overworked, wearing „busy“ like a badge of honor. I don’t want to feel ill and exhausted each day because I’m stretching myself so thin that my body just doesn’t want to support me anymore. I don’t want to always put off my hopes and dreams until it’s “sensible” to fulfill them. What exactly am I even working for? Why can’t I just be happy now?
So I stopped.
I booked a flight to Tokyo. I applied at a language school – and got in. I realized that my life was just going to go on like this – I would always fear that I threw my life away. I had to do something drastic. So, for the first time in my life, I didn’t go the sensible route. I fulfilled a dream. And, like magic, the weight on my shoulders disappeared.