Chapter 49: Trusting Your Independence

I did it! I left. I went to Europe only knowing a couple friends. I haven't talked on the phone with my parents in a long time, and I miss them more than they know. I'm an ocean away if something were to happen. College is at least in the same country, but my new home is many, many more miles farther away. All of that uncertainty made me so anxious and uncomfortable before leaving, and now I embrace it. The best decision I've ever made was leaving and I would encourage anybody to do the same thing: get a little anxious and go adventure. 

From a young age I was taught that if I wanted to make something happen it was on me. To get to Lacoste, I worked 70 hour weeks last summer, and worked two jobs during the school year. It wasn't that my parents weren't willing to help me, it's that I wanted to help them and prove that I could handle the responsibilities of studying abroad. Naturally, when you decide to take on more responsibility, maturity and independence are required whether you like it or not. 

My parents have never traveled outside of the country so every step of this process has been filled with, "figure it out" moments. Here's what I've learned: there are so many people that will help you, and there are so many times when those people will not be there to help you. My phone didn't work for the first three weeks of my adventure over to Europe. If I had an emergency, I had to find wifi and hope my messaging would work. Not having Google Maps readily available forced me how to read an actual map- imagine that, they actually work! I got lost in every city I visited at least once if not multiple times, but I always seemed to find my way back. Going to a big city in a place with people that don't speak your language requires a lot of thinking. Public transportation is confusing and you might hop on the wrong metro, but that's how you learn, (and save money). You have to think on your toes and be willing to figure it out if you're in a rut. 

Paris was big and it was hard not to get lost and freak out at first. But, it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen and worth every bit of stress. It was amazing to stand in front of the Eiffel Tour and know I got there because I worked hard to earn that beautiful view. 

Leaving your comfort zone brings a lot of fear and anxiety. I can guarantee that things will be scary at times and your picture perfect dream of a city will be clouded in some way once you get there, but the beauty of it outweighs any of those fears. I've learned that I am able to function as a human being, as an adult, as a responsible yet fun student by myself with almost no help. I can have fun, I can make mistakes, but I can also pull myself together and find my own way. Nobody is going to tell you what to do and what not to do. You have to trust in yourself to make wise decisions so that you can have the best possible experience. You shouldn't plan on relying on others to make your plans and figure out your transportation; believe in your ability to do it all. I've learned how to indicate when I feel uncomfortable with something. I've learned how to deal with the, (good and bad) consequences that come with some of my decisions. I've learned how to appreciate cultural differences that sometimes make me a bit angry, or really happy. I've seen things that I will never ever let go of because I learned how to be independent. Expect to learn a lot and be uncomfortable for a little bit, but I cannot stress how much I've gained by moving past those initial fears. A person's independence is a valuable and powerful entity that will guide you to unimaginable places.