ink & growth

change and fear of the unknown.

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I’ve been mulling over this huge, inevitable change for months. From the moment I set foot in Cambridge, my decision to transfer transformed from concept to reality. Every doubt that abstraction never considered assailed my brain the second orientation ended and tears burned my eyes.

First thought—why the hell am I crying? This school is awesome. I earned a good scholarship. I’ve already made a couple of friends. Heck, I know people in the area who are excited I’ll be around. I’ve always wanted to live on the east coast. My parents are enthusiastically supporting me. Yet I’m fighting tears in the corner of a busy Starbucks thirty minutes before we walk across town for dinner and twenty-four hours before our flight home.

My outlook transformed from nervous anticipation to crippling self-doubt. I mulled over everything wrong with this decision. I dreamt up every possible alternative to moving 3,000 miles away—I could go back to my old school. I could stay at home, get a job, and think about what I *truly* want in life. I could move in with my boyfriend in a lukewarm town as not to endure the trials of a long distance relationship.

In the end, I understood what was bound to happen. I already registered for classes, signed up for housing, and started using my school email. It would be sudden and unfounded to reverse everything I had spent months working toward.

That logic kept me moving forward. I broke the news to friends, packed, and planned for the move. This didn’t curb the doubts, however, and even though every single one was perfectly legitimate, I knew their driving force was fear of the unknown.

How on earth do you deal with this kind of fear?

Recognize that nothing is set in stone. Maybe I’ll miss the west coast more than I anticipated. I can always move back after a semester. Or grit my teeth and bear two years, because in the grand scheme of things two years is a very short amount of time. Allowing yourself the power to change your mind without worrying about what others will think is the ultimate comfort in making big decisions, because few things are irreversible.

If relationships are meant to be, they will be. This cliché fatedestiny talk can sound superfluous, but it brings me comfort. Plus, it’s true. One of my biggest fears was that me and my boyfriend couldn’t handle long distance.

Here’s the thing: If our combined time, effort, and endurance isn’t enough to keep us together, then maybe it’s not meant to be. Not being afraid to admit that was the first step. Conversely, being apart has the potential to bring us closer together. We live in a culture that dooms LDRs, but I’m personally friends with four couples who’s long distance relationships ended in marriage. It’s all about perspective.

Keep busy. This became my mantra. I’m the type of person who can lay in bed all day just thinking. This can be good—I have a vivid imagination and lots of ideas. More often than not, it’s destructive. I end up spending valuable energy on unproductive thoughts—guilt, self-doubt, the toils of humanity. Energy that could be spent learning a new skill, talking to my loved ones, or exploring someplace new. Even though these thoughts are inevitable, you can spend less time entertaining them and more time constructing a better version of yourself.

Conversely, solitude. Solitude is distinct from loneliness.  Loneliness is bitter, dark and distant. Solitude is intentional time alone to better understand yourself and others. I rarely spent time alone during my first few years of college, between work, relationships, and my reluctance to say “no”. As a result, I struggled socially and academically and had a hard time figuring out who I was independent of others. Allowing myself intentional time alone kickstarted the motivation to transfer schools.

Your happiness is just as important as other’s. I was so distraught in how my decision would impact my friends and family that I started to think it would be better if I did what was best for them over what would ultimately be most fulfilling for me.

Unless you have binding obligations to others, making life altering decisions with your needs in the forefront is not selfish. This was the hardest truth for me to swallow, but I know the people who truly care about me will always support my decisions, whether or not it benefits them, and I would do the same.

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