Growing Up is Scarier Than Moving Halfway Across the World

In a little over a month, I’ll be in Australia.

If everything goes according to plan, by then I will have completed the move from the remote Scottish Highlands, where I’ve been living for the last two years, all the way to bustling Melbourne, where my boyfriend lives. I’ll be applying for jobs, buying furniture, and settling in in the land down under.

After a year of living on opposite sides of the globe and struggling with time differences and distances, I couldn’t be more thrilled to not have an expiration date on our time together anymore. No more heartbreaking goodbyes at the airport; no more melancholic smiles after funny selfies remind me of how much I miss him; no more researching what I can and cannot ship to Australia. After what feels like an eternal wait, it is finally our time; we finally have our chance.

And yet, when friends and family ask me how I’m feeling in regards to my big move, the first thing that comes to mind is inevitably just how utterly terrified I am. Sure, some degree of nervousness is more than justified—after all, I am moving to the other side of the world from where I grew up, and thousands of miles away from everybody I know. Still, the panic that sometimes possesses me is absolute and overwhelming, and, while I never doubt that I want to move there, I find myself questioning whether I have it in me to face this change.

As the date of my departure approaches, I feel more and more distraught at the thought of leaving. I can feel my anxiety rising to its podium to start its crippling monologue, as the wild excitement of a whole new world to explore leaves the stage to the much dreaded practical side of things. Renewing my passport and driver’s licence to have peace of mind for the next 10 years; applying for a visa; looking up jobs and setting up interviews; confronting the fact that most of my beloved books will have to stay behind, or that I do not know when I will hug my friends next. I do not like the practical side of things.

This is not the first time I’m facing a life-changing move to a foreign country/far away land: Only last year, in the space of a week, I searched and found a new job, packed my bag (yes, only one), and moved to a remote Scottish island, leaving behind friends and family and a life I no longer felt mine.

Big or small, permanent or reversible, a change is always a change. It always has an impact, and whether you’re moving cities or continents, it’s always scary. But leaving a place where you’re unhappy is infinitely easier than leaving a home where you’re comfortably settled in. Things haven’t always been perfect in the last year, but I have built myself a home and a family I love, and I am finally happy. Even the thought of waking up every day next to the love of my life can only do so much to reassure me: I worked hard to get where I am now—what if I can’t do it again?

Like most of the realisations that come with—gasp!—growing up, the answer to that is extremely boring and underwhelming: I just need to keep working hard.

Dealing with bureaucracy, job hunting, finding a place to live that is just right, making a new home and friends: this is what life is made of. Or, maybe more aptly, this is what adult life is made of: Facing and making sometimes tough choices, and navigating the consequences. It’s not always glamorous and exciting: sometimes there are more doctor’s appointments than dates with friends, and a lot more shits than giggles, but it’s life and it’s real and it takes work.

I’m frankly embarrassed at how long it took me to realise this: maintaining relationships as well as friendships, cultivating a passion while simultaneously securing a livelihood (and possibly advancing a career), looking after ourselves. These things take work. These things are hard.

But while we do need to take time to appreciate that—and, in turn, to recognise just how big of an effort simply managing can be—we also need to remember that “having tried” is not enough. Being content, fulfilled, and happy requires constant work: there’s no such thing as “having made it”—we’ve got to still make it every day.

The lovely little town I happily settled in could easily become the quaint little village I desperately want to escape, if I get too comfortable and stop moving forward. Deciding to postpone my move to Australia would be simply out of fear of the unknown. And the unknown has so much potential and possibilities—it’s up to us to shape it into what we want it to be.

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