As of today, we’re at 17 days and 7 hours until the wedding and I’m starting to have second thoughts. Not about the wedding of course, but of our extended trip after our wedding. Exactly 2 weeks after we say ‘I do’, we’re leaving our apartment, selling most of our possessions, leaving our babies (cat-lady, here) and saying good-bye to our friends and family for 4-6 months. And I’m fucking petrified.
When this adventurous journey around the world came to fruition one year ago, it was all rainbows and unicorns. “How about we vacation in the Maldives before we volunteer for 2 months in Africa?” I thought. “Of course, after we’ve done some major shopping.” Cue the Yale-Nantucket-yuppy laugh. My early thoughts of our budget were naive, and boy have I learned that wedding planning in SoCal ain’t cheap.
First it was 6 months abroad, then 7 months, then 4, now maybe 3? Our wedding multiplied by 25% in costs and, of course, I quit a job that I was miserable at. Less money in, more money out.
As we continued to plan, I couldn’t help but think … am I making the right decision? I’ve booked many flights in the past, so our first (and only) flights booked to Norway didn’t feel like that big of a deal. But entering the travel clinic was a different story. The minute those 3 needles pricked my arm (which followed with mild sickness and hysteria) this trip started to feel very real. And suddenly, I didn’t want to go on my dream journey anymore.
There were small moments leading up to this thought, though. Like the time Kevin and I bickered for hours about our trip to Tanzania. Or when Kevin stayed up until 5 am worrying about money. Or the time I started working at a restaurant and stayed for months despite my growing hatred for it. Small moments that made me think, “Am I ruining this? Am I ruining our engagement? Our newlywed life? Am I killing our romance in search for adventure? Am I being selfish?”
At times, it certainly felt like it. There were moments between us that felt so distant and scary, just reminiscing about it makes me teary-eyed. And it all stemmed from the damn trip. At first it seemed like our main worry was our finances, but there was a lot more to it than that. We started to question our careers and what we would do when we come back. Writing was what I always wanted, but what about my analytic, pragmatic husband-to-be? Falling into an office job at the right time would be impossible. Where would we live? How could we live without our kitties? But most importantly, what if we failed?
And just as quick as those needles entered my arm, came the fear of failure. I suddenly spiraled into guilt and self-doubt. “After months of an Instagram and bragging to friends-or anyone who would listen, really-of our journey,” I thought, “what would they think if we backed out or if we came home early? What will they all think of me because I wasn’t the care-free nomad I said I was? What if we lost all of our money and fought everything for nothing?” I felt weak and I felt lost. These thoughts crippled me and started to crush my adventurous spirit.
As the wedding planning got into full swing, I also began feeling urges I’ve never felt before: nesting. Suddenly, I wanted a house, something I thought was too big of a responsibility when we got engaged. I was also getting baby-fever like crazy. With every passing baby, I was thinking of names and the importance of an organic and paleo diet during pregnancy (because isn’t that everyone’s first thought when they see a baby?). I wanted to be a wife and I wanted the whoolllleee cookie-cutter kit and caboodle.
So why not back out? Screw the shame and awkwardness amongst friends! I could keep the kitties! It would make my new marriage easy and I can start nesting just like I wanted, right? Right??
Which led me to start thinking… why did I want to do this in the first place? Why did I want to go, with no plan and some money, to the other side of the world?
I recall wanting to volunteer and to take some amazing pictures on my honeymoon. I also remember wanting to have the most bad ass stories to tell… But that wasn’t it. No, I wanted to break my habits. I wanted to open my eyes and see how others lived. I wanted to be uncomfortable and dirty and maybe homeless for a night because I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to live! While I am still a young adult, I wanted to change my perspective so that the rest of my life would be a series of good choices made with as much understanding as I could possibly have. I wanted to be a well-rounded individual and touch and see and feel as many things and experiences as possible.
So maybe doing this as a honeymoon was biting off more than we could chew. But best before the babies and the mortgage, so I always say. But the more I thought of me and what I really, truly wanted, I realized that this was part of the process. Part of challenging myself and feeling that growth was feeling uncomfortable. It was coming to terms with leaving everything we know behind and going into the unknown, the abyss. I had to feel what I was losing so I could see what I might be gaining.
And then there was always the thought, “What if we don’t like who we really are once we’ve changed?” Well, that’s dumb. A) I fell in love with Kevin within the week I met him. If my spirit sensed the compassion, generosity and happiness from that early on, then I know it will only thrive once he has the opportunity to meet and help others. And B) Worse comes to worse, it’s better find out now than later! (I kid, I kid.)
So, what does this all mean? Well, we’re still going. And I’m still fucking scared. But I’m coming to terms with my fear. I’m realizing that anxiety and travel go hand in hand. That doing something bold doesn’t always come with happy and relaxed emotions. As the financial dust has settled and communication has opened, I think Kevin is starting to realize this, too.
I’m so excited to go on this trip. But more importantly, I’m excited to go with the man of my dreams and my partner in life and to learn together more about our world, our fellow man and each other. Who knows? The Maldives might still happen.