This month we started a new theme called "Be Fearless". In the spirit of our mission with this blog to "Motivate", "Inspire", and help women "Grow", we want to share inspiring stories of women like yourselves who've overcome challenges and how they found the strength to do it. We hope it will encourage you to face your fears, get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to go to places you never dreamed of!
From Wanderlust to What I Do
It’s not often that you hear people say that their time abroad was one of the most terrifying times of their lives. And yet, here I am, saying exactly that. Don’t get me wrong: my six months abroad were easily the best months of my entire life (so far). But I didn’t know that going in… I didn’t know anything that awaited me across the pond. I chose to study at the University of Birmingham in England, which sounds all fine and dandy… except that I knew nothing of Birmingham, and neither did anyone else I talked to. I intentionally chose a city that wasn’t London, because I didn’t want a “stereotypical” abroad experience. Looking back, I don’t regret choice at all, but sometimes, I do question it. I freaked myself out by looking up all the things about Birmingham I thought I might need to know – where to shop, where to eat, where I was staying, what their accent sounded like (although, honestly, nothing could prepare me for the Brummie lilt) – and yet, as I got on that plane, I still felt utterly terrified. The thing is, I had never been away from home before. Not really. Sure, I spent my summers in California and the rest of my life in Arizona, but I had a parent with me in both places. I had family. I had friends. I had a comfort zone. The longest I’d ever been out of that was for a trip somewhere or another, and most of those were in the US, and with those same family, friends, and comforts. I had never been to Europe, and I had never been that far away from home, and I had never been that completely and utterly alone. But I was also completely and utterly determined to do it. I was sick of my comfort zone. I had chosen to go to college – granted, an amazing college – right there in Arizona, a mere thirty minutes from my mom. I lived in the dorms, sure, but going in, I had a whole crop of friends I knew from before college. I kept my job. Nothing was really “new” about it and… let’s be real… living in college dorms is a far cry from living completely alone. And yet, I wasn’t doing anything to step out of that comfortable world I’d created for myself… and I knew I wasn’t going to unless I absolutely had to. So I made myself. I packed up my stuff, and I hauled it 5,166 miles across the world and I moved myself into a flat full of English people that I didn’t really know. And for heaven’s sake, I cannot be more glad I did it.
I know that everyone always tells stories about how going abroad was “amazing” and how they “never wanted to come home” and how they partied their time away. And I definitely agree with all those things. I saw more of the world than I ever expected, and learned more about it than I ever could have from my addiction to history books. And for heaven’s sake, I cannot be more glad I did it. But I also learned so much about myself. There’s something utterly terrifying about traveling alone, and something truly wonderful about looking back and saying that you did it. Granted, I bonded with my flatmates and I met some fantastic people in little hostels throughout Europe, but I also recognize that I never would have done those things if I hadn’t taken that fearless step and gone over there, all by myself, in the first place.
Beyond just that six months, that first journey into the single-lady unknown helped me realize that I could do it. I didn’t have to follow the “safe” path… personally or professionally. And so, when I came back from that literally life-changing time abroad, I set aside my fears. I took the courage that I’d acquired by spending six months solo, and I went headfirst into the independent career path that I knew I would find the most rewarding… even if it scared me a little bit (or a lot a bit). The opportunity to take an internship at the company that then became my full time employer came at a very unbalanced time in my life. I was a junior in college and just trying to make it to the end. The internship came up, and I was a little bit afraid to commit to it. To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure if this was the industry I was suited for. I’d always imagined myself immediately leaving Phoenix and doing some sort of glamour PR or something along those lines… I wanted to deal with tourism, celebrities, the whole shebang.
Basically, I envisioned myself as a modern day, Phoenix-based, and slightly more Charlotte-esque Samantha Jones. The internship I was offered was corporate, and it was a small agency. I honestly had no clue if I wanted to do it, but then part of me was worried about what might happen if I said no. I didn’t have any other internship opportunities at that moment, and I knew I needed one as the next logical step towards my career. A conversation with my best friend reminded me that I’d already done the scariest thing I could have imagined. And if I’d learned anything in England, it was that there’s no point in not trying. In the moment, I hated her for being so right. But then I paused and I thought, why not? I took the internship. I stayed for a year and a half while finishing my dual degrees. And now, I’ve landed myself a coveted full time job in a competitive agency right out of college. And better yet? I absolutely love it.
That’s what England taught me. If I have even the slightest doubt about what might happen if I don’t take the risk, I take the risk anyway. After all, it worked out once. And if it doesn’t? Well, there’s a whole wide world out there full of more risks, just waiting to be taken. And I learned this all because I took a fearless leap across the pond.
Our guest contributor is Taylor Nelson. She writes a blog called, Wanderlaughing, where she shares about her life being in her early 20s and making her way through love, laughter, lattes, and life! She can also be found on Instagram at @taylorinaz