Two roads diverged, and I took the yellow brick one

The world has never felt small to me, but it has also never felt big. When I was little, I firmly believed that it was pretty much impossible that car trips from North Carolina to Missouri could take 14 hours and that it was all this big show my parents put on—that if they really wanted to, we could be there in much less time. Obviously I’ve reached the point of accepting those 14 hour drives as a necessary evil, but the world still has only ever seemed as big as a flight to California, with the occasional jaunt over to Europe.

Foreign countries were just that-foreign. Not mine, unknown and too far to be concerned about. The only time my mind ever drifts to other places is when I am craving some adventure and something out of the norm. That’s what the US is to me. It’s situation normal. I can travel anywhere around this country and feel a sense of peace and belonging. How incredible is that? All these states, all this land, and millions of people and I can confidently say I could make my life work in any state. Sure, I’d be happier in some locations than others, but I feel like no matter where I am, I’d be able to settle down and be happy.

So why is another country so daunting? I’ve been trying to find the words to express all the thoughts racing through my mind, and I’m still not sure I have them. I know I’m going. I’ve accepted I’m going. In my mind I know that come next February I will be sitting on a flight to Australia, but it’s still hard to believe. Suddenly my world feels so small and THE world seems so big. Maybe that’s what it is. I’ve discovered the world I have made for myself is incredibly small, and the world I’m jumping into is massive. Have I limited myself by “nesting” so comfortably in North Carolina?

I think we all limit our lives to a certain extent. We find a happy place, a comfortable routine and we thrive. Once you have “the good life,” it’s hard to imagine pressing your luck and searching for more. What’s wrong with being content? Absolutely nothing. My life has been exceptional up to this point, and if it had continued down the same path that kept me in North Carolina, I’d be very happy and content, but it didn’t. I am off for a new adventure, and I’m terrifyingly excited.

If my life were a musical, I feel like this is the point in the post where I burst into song about letting it go, or defying gravity (friends, please tell me you get the references), but alas, my life is way too normal, and my voice is way too terrible for that to be a good idea for anyone. I will say that I will miss so many things about my known world here. It’s nearly impossible to truly comprehend and accept the fact that I’m leaving my life here.

Eventually I will come to terms with that, but for now I am just thankful for the opportunity to make my world bigger. I’m excited to feel unlimited by my own expectations for what my life will become. In the wise words of Robert Frost, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.” And I truly hope it will make “all the difference” in my life.

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Supporters: the forgotten key to success

Some people have this innate comfort with life change. They not only readily accept it, but even tend to seek it out. As you can probably guess, I am not such a person. Up to this point in my life, I have truly thrived on consistency. Pieces of my life change as necessary, but for the most part I’ve happily maintained a certain level of “status quo” in my world. Until now. Now I am faced with so much uncertainty that if I truly stop and think about it, I’d likely decide to curl up in my room and lock the door.

Somehow, however, I’ve managed to avoid that reaction. Quite the opposite, actually, I’ve recently been having this sense of overwhelming peace with the change. I recognize my upcoming PhD program as my almost obvious next step and the moving to Australia part ends up being an added bonus. I’ve always thought I’d be the next Dr. Woessner in my family line, and now I’m finally on the yellow brick road to that Oz (so to speak). Don’t get me wrong—when I first found out, I’m pretty sure I cried to my parents before I even got the news out. But they, and every other person I’ve talked to since, have been overwhelmingly supportive, encouraging and in awe of the opportunity. I didn’t ask for approval or adulations, but I was getting them everywhere I turned and they lifted my spirits.

 

You see, having a strong support system in place is one of the most under-recognized keys to success. I know I can complete a PhD. I have the desire, motivation, intelligence and drive required, but of course I’m surrounded with doubts and fears regarding the vastness of change consuming my life. Though the excitement mostly outweighs the fear, I still have my moments, and in those moments I am able to remember all the people in my life supporting my decision to move thousands of miles away from them (wait, do these people even like me, or are they trying to get rid of me??). I think to myself, if my family and best friends can unselfishly support me chasing my dream, even though it takes me away from all of their immediate worlds, this has GOT to be a good thing.

Sure, there is a time and place for pushing yourself and finding motivation from within, but we all have moments of personal doubt and in those times support can be the difference between the will to go on, and the disastrous feeling of defeat. So whether you are preparing for a life change or starting a new exercise plan, surround yourself with supporters. Your energy will falter and your motivation will dwindle and in times like those, you need people who will remind you of the big picture and push you forward. You should always be your own biggest cheerleader, but there’s no reason you can’t have some backup cheerleaders ready to go.

 

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