I did something this weekend. Something I thought I would never do. I got on an airplane, by myself, and flew halfway across the country to meet-up with a bunch of strangers.
There are a multitude of reasons this is a big deal for me, but the highlights include, fear of dying in a plane crash (as absurd as I know this is) and being away from my kids for several days.
This all started a few months ago, around the time I launched my blog. I was busy reading everything I could get my hands on, related to the writing and blogging world. One night, I stumbled across the information for a conference at the University of Maryland. Not only would I have the opportunity to learn from several writers I admire, but I could meet other people who shared my goals and interests.
I had to go.
Normally, I’m all about exploring what I don’t know. I love information. All the information. But, this conference was so far from home. From my kids. I’m a bit of an anxious control freak, so the idea of leaving them for three days, began to slowly suffocate me. What if something happened and I wasn’t there?
My rational mind often becomes annoyed with my anxious mind. Rationally, I know my kids have an amazing daddy, and they would survive three days without me. My anxious mind is certain a plane crash would leave them to grow-up motherless. This absurdity is my constant struggle.
I told my husband about the conference, and my reservations about going. He knows me and my completely warped way of thinking. He reassured me the kids would survive the weekend, and encouraged me to go after what I wanted.
The man gives a solid pep-talk.
With his support, I purchased my ticket and booked a flight. In the back of my mind, I wasn’t sure if I would follow through with any of this, it was way outside of my comfort zone. I left the door open to the chicken exit, just in case, and was ready, with various excuses, to abandon this plan.
I really wanted to attend this conference. Getting on a plane and being away from my kids for a few days was the only way that was going to happen. Ultimately, I forced myself to push through the overwhelming fear and worry. I put my rational mind at the helm and refused to accept any bullshit from my anxiety. The kids were in great hands, and it’s an airplane for crying out loud—it’s not that big of a deal.
My flight was an early morning departure, which meant saying goodbye to my kids when I tucked them in, the night before. I squeezed them tight and promised a gift from the trip for good behavior, and they drifted peacefully to sleep.
My mind, on the other hand, was far too busy to find sleep, and I spent the night on the sofa, on the verge of a panic attack.
My rational mind was being beaten down by the “what ifs”. I forced myself to load my suitcase in the car. I kissed my husband goodbye, then paused in the darkness with tears in my eyes. The anxiety was starting to consume me; I could feel it pulling ahead- gaining the upper hand. It’s taunting cemented my feet to the floor. I was rooted by the heaviness. I saw the chicken exit. The door open—ready for a hasty escape from this overwhelming, suffocating pressure.
“No!” I grabbed the keys and started towards the car. My anxiety would not win. I wouldn’t let it.
I arrived at the airport, grabbed a coffee and boarded the plane. I tried to sleep on the flight– my mind and body were tired. But, I couldn’t. So, I listened to music and rested my eyes until I felt the tug of the wheels on the pavement as we landed in Maryland. I immediately turned on my phone and texted my husband, “I lived!” He wasn’t surprised, but glad I had arrived safely.
I felt accomplished with my dominance over this hurdle, as I arrived on campus at the University of Maryland.
As the next few days passed, I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t worry incessantly about my kids, as I had expected. We talked every day, and each time they were laughing and enjoying themselves. I wasn’t ruining them by taking time for me—they were fine. This was a huge realization. A relief.
The weekend flew by, and I’m now back home with my family. My mind is still spinning from all the information. I met authors I admire and gained some amazing new friends. None of this would have happened if I let my anxiety win- if I let the “what ifs” win.
If you want something, don’t let anything impede your path. Be bold, and go for it, my friend.