On February 8th I was scrolling through my phone on Facebook when I paused on a friend’s (Becca) post with the words, “Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once.”
I paused on the words and my imagination went wild with the endless possibilities of where I could go. Anywhere! I could go anywhere in that moment. The beach? England? Georgia? The whole world felt like it was within my grasp. Where did I actually really want to go? St. Louis. I wanted to go to St. Louis 3 days later for a concert and to see some of my friends, specifically. It was then when reality hit me and grounded me. I couldn’t go to St. Louis. I couldn’t go alone on short notice. I let out a sigh before I put my phone down, laid my head back, and closed my eyes. I tried to pretend I was back inside my vacation, but it wasn’t the same anymore. My overthinking ruined it. I opened my eyes and carried on with planning what I was going to make for dinner that night.
Have you ever had that feeling that life was pulling you in so many different directions that you felt like you were going to burst into a million different little anxious pieces? I suppose that is the best way for me to describe how I was feeling last week. Pressure, anxiety, worry, and fear. None of the emotions that typically make up the parts of me that I am happy about. I think the worst part of that feeling is the little voice that tells you not to burden anyone else with your problems, so you keep it in, and pretend that all is well while you slowly bury yourself along with those feelings. But they never stay underground for long. It gets worse as you start to believe that you don’t have anyone to talk to, which I know was imagined now, but in the moment it feels very real…and very lonely. And then the smallest of things happens and sets you off. It sounds so trivial but feels like a loaded gun firing.
Saturday morning, the day that I wanted to be in St. Louis, my cat Rocky tried to bite me. Twice.
That’s the little thing that toppled me over, but it was about so much more than that. Out of everything else, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I finally did what I should’ve done days ago and called my best friend, Kim.
As the phone rang my heart paused, I felt immense guilt forming as I debated hanging up because I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone.
Hold it together, Anna.
“Hello!” she answered.
” Hi! Umm…do you have some time to talk right now? I attempted to sound cheery.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
That’s what being friends for over 20 years will get you. Both of us know within 2 seconds of conversation if something is wrong.
Those words unlocked the waterworks and I began a several minute long run on sentence that couldn’t find its ending.
“You know what the worst part is?” I sniffed, “I’ve been getting all of these little signs all week to just go to St. Louis today, and I just want to pack up and go…I don’t have anyone to go with, I’ve asked around…Dan even said I could. I wish so badly that I could just drive and go…but I can’t. It’s tonight. I know that sounds so stupid. I just wanna get away a little and I’m so sad that I can’t…”
Kim paused, “Wait a second…Dan said you could go? Then why the HECK are you not going to St. Louis today?!”
“Well, you know me, I’m scared of driving all that way alone, I’m not sure where to stay yet, I don’t know if anyone is for sure going to the concert too…I just don’t know….”
“Do you have a car charger?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, then you have GPS so even if you do make a few wrong turns (I’m notorious for getting lost) you’ll still get there. And you have friends down there. Go call them,” she made it sound so easy. Maybe it could actually be that easy.
“I don’t know. Driving alone is a little intimidating for me,” I hesitated, “What if the van breaks down or something?” My mind jumped to all of the worst case scenarios. “You don’t think it’s a little crazy do you?” I needed the extra reassurance.
“Anna. You’ve always been a little crazy when it comes to concerts. If the van breaks down I’ll come get you. Heck, if I didn’t have things going on I’d go with you. You could do it, Anna. Just don’t go into any sketchy gas stations alone AND make sure your car charger works. Now, go make it happen and call me back when you do.”
I smiled for the first time that day and started to believe that I could do it.
“Okay! I’m gonna try! I’ll call you back soon!” I hung up the phone and the excitement rushed through my entire body. I didn’t have much time to work with.
I picked up the phone again and made my first call to my friend Lori, whose house I was hoping to stay at. After she agreed to let me spend the night I said, half-joking and half-fearful, “I just gotta follow the GPS and stay away from creepy guys at gas stations.”
Without any hesitation she replied, “Well, the last time you met and talked to a creepy guy at the gas station you ended up marrying him…so…I’m sure you’ll live.”
HAHA! (For those that do not know, Dan asked me out, without knowing me, while I was working at a gas station.)
I need the blunt, “You’re finnneeee,” comments and that one worked like a charm and cracked me up. Not that Dan is creepy, but it put it into perspective for me. haha
I got off the phone again to a text from Kim that read, “The only limits in life are the ones you make.” <3
It spoke to my soul!
After several more calls and texts to friends and family, it was decided that I would drive down to St. Louis alone. I could do it and I wasn’t going to let my fears win this time.
The moment I was set to leave I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. I was at my friend Nikki’s house, celebrating my goddaughter’s Birthday when the time came. I started to say goodbye but was almost choked up. Saying I was going to do it and actually doing it was two different things. I could still chicken out.
“You look nervous,” Nikki said.
I nodded my head, starting to doubt my decision. I pictured being stranded in the middle of nowhere. I pictured walking into the venue alone. My nervousness was starting to get the best of me.
“You’ll be fine,” she said while giving me a hug. “Go on….and have fun!”
I paused in the doorway.
“Go on!” she laughed. And I made my way back to my van, where I would be seated for the next 5 hours and 38 minutes with only my thoughts and my music.
If you couldn’t tell, I needed many pushes from several people to make this happen. Just knowing that I had people support me in what might seem like a rash decision to others, made me realize that I wasn’t alone after all. And I realize that driving alone to a place where I had friends might not seem too scary to some, but to me it really was. It was something I really felt called to do, and for once I actually listened.
I suppose putting my faith and hope into something and actually seeing it through gave me a sense of purpose, like there was a bigger picture for my life than I was able to see. I felt capable, realizing that I was the only thing in my own way…but only I could be the one to change that.
From the moment I left my friend’s house, and after I filled up my gas tank, I decided that I would try to make the trip without stopping once, unless for gas. Thanks to my newer champagne colored van, I got miracle gas mileage and didn’t have to fill up until the drive home! I didn’t stop once, didn’t need gas, didn’t hit any traffic…and still managed to add eight minutes to my drive time. And later I noticed my palms of my hands felt puffy and sore…it was pointed out to me it was probably from gripping the wheel so tightly at 10 and 2 the entire way. It’s official, guys. I drive like a grandma.
The crazy thing is that I pulled into the venue, from Wisconsin, RIGHT during the first song of the band that I was there to see (called Mack, Myers, Moore). I couldn’t have timed that better if I tried!
It sounds silly, but the second that I hit that Illinois border while driving, I realized that I was already further than I had ever driven alone. Sure, I’ve flown alone before, but that felt like nothing to this. That IL sign actually got me teary-eyed. (And not just from those toll prices!) My whole body shook from excitement before I cranked up my Copperview CD and let my cares float away. My face hurt from smiling and my lungs felt clear from singing. Halfway through my trip I even got to crack the window open, it was almost 70 degrees in Missouri! That was a huge change from the freezing temps in good ole Wisconsin!
Everything about the drive made me happy. When I stepped out of the car my mood was already completely different from my mood that very morning. I was worlds away.
I was away from home and about to see one of my favorite musicians, JR Moore*, play sitting alongside my other two favorite musicians, Dave and Jeremy**, and Lily (who made me feel right at home!) In that moment I was where I was supposed to be, a feeling that’s hard to come by sometimes. I was there and actually able to let go of my problems with each passing and lingering note. Slowly my heart felt light and by the end of the night all of those pieces that felt like they were pulling me apart before, felt patched nicely back together. Plus, I was laughing my tail off most of the night. Laughter really is the best medicine that there is.
Music, friends, and laughter are what recharge me. I felt so overjoyed and thankful that I didn’t let my fears stand in the way this time.
So, this is my long letter to those of you reading this that are scared to get out of your comfort zone, with whatever it may be. Take a chance. You might surprise yourself in the process. I would suggest trying to travel alone at least once, but that might not be for all. Really dig down deep in your heart and listen to what has been tugging at your heart strings. Follow your passion and learn about yourself in the process. Trust in the process. I’m just going to leave you all with a quote that Kelly sent me when I got back from my trip…
Life is happening now! I love you all and hope this might be the push you needed, just as I needed. <3
P.s. The original blog post for the idea to do something that scares me is from my 30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30 post!
*You can read my past blog post on JR Moore/Ingram Hill here! 🙂
**You can read my past blog post about Jeremy here 🙂