It has been a stressful and fear-laden few days. I feel like my stomach has been put through a blender, thrown off the balcony of a 20-storey building, and then run over by a steamroller. Several times over. Sound disgusting? Well, apologies, but that’s exactly how my poor stomach feels. Fear has taken over and I’m in a permanent state of nausea.
Welcome to my life post-employment and pre-travels. I’m now tasked with unravelling the life I painstakingly put together over the last five years – something I vastly underestimated the magnitude of. Furniture and a car need to be sold, and loans and credit cards settled. I have to sort through an apartment full of the crap I’ve accumulated since I moved to Dubai. Most of this stuff isn’t even used anymore, but because I am a sentimental fool, I find myself weeping over it; like the guitar I bought during Ramadan a few years ago when my friend Madeleine and I decided we were going to give Slash a run for his money. Four years on and I can confirm I haven’t touched the thing since the last time I played it in 2008 and was told by the police to give it a rest (long story).
Which reemphasises my point – this is an apartment full of crap that I don’t need, yet somehow I have formed an attachment with a lot of the things in here. This makes the whole process of getting rid of it all that bit more stressful. Even though I don’t need these things, I’ve been brainwashed into believing that they some how define me as a person. I blame advertising. And capitalism.
Back to my fear-laden few days. As I was settling my car loan on Thursday I almost cried. I looked at the post-payment balance of my bank account and realised the stress is on to sell my car for the right amount, or my travels will consist of a weekend in Bognor Regis. The sensible part of my brain then went into a neurotic spasm, and for a split second I found myself wondering whether I have done the right thing. It is a recession, after all – what kind of crazy people give up their relatively well paid jobs to go traipsing around the world?
Me, it would seem.
This is the problem with fear. Even when you do the best job to hide from it, it will sneak up on you when you least expect it. Fear is defined by Wikipedia as the ‘ability to recognise danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it,’ so I guess in my case I fear the unknown. Whilst I was in no way happy with my job, it was comfortable and predictable. I knew what I would be doing five days a week, and that a nice amount of money would land in my account at the end of each month. Away from my job, I had my car, my friends, my city. It was a rather nice little package, even if under the surface I was damn miserable.
It was a decent existence, but that’s all it was: an existence.
I have two very distinct sides to my personality – so distinct that they clash frequently. The sensible part of me likes feeling ‘secure’ and knowing what she will be doing six months from now. She also likes her apartment, nice clothes, weekly mani-pedis and all the other little luxuries Dubai affords her. This is the side of my personality that is freaking out right now.
Then there’s free-spirited Andrea. This side of my personality abhors routine, loathes hierarchy, and wants to be out in the world. She likes drinking, meeting randoms and perving. She loves nothing more than going on an adventure; the world is her oyster and she wants to make her mark on it. Every so often, free spirited Andrea overrides sensible Andrea and all kinds of crazy things happen. It’s always free-spirited Andrea who quits her jobs, decides to move to other countries, and takes the road less travelled. Free-spirited Andrea is excited about the future.
Sensible and free-spirited Andrea are having a tug of war at the minute. One minute I cannot contain my excitement for the future, the next minute I’m a blubbering mess on the kitchen floor.
So yes, I’m petrified of the prospect of selling everything and heading into the unknown. I’m petrified of saying goodbye to the people who have become my family whilst I’ve been living here. I’m petrified of the possibility of having no money and returning a big fat failure. I’m petrified of trying to write a book but experiencing the world’s longest known case of a writer’s block.
When I look back over all the best decisions I have made in my life, I realise I was always petrified. I was petrified before I went to university, but I then had three of the best years of my life. I was petrified before I came to Dubai, but the last five years have been life-changing. I was petrified about going on a blind date, but it taught me to loosen up and not to take life so seriously.
I’m therefore going to embrace this fear. In fact, I’m going to look that bitch straight in the eyes and tell her that she doesn’t scare me. If anything she’s just about to push me into taking the greatest adventure of my life.
I’m feeling the fear, but I’m doing it anyway.