Went off the grid a bit since I returned from Madrid. I came back to Dublin unable to move into my room so I bounced around between a few different hostels in the city until finally on the evening of the 14th of August, I slept in the bed that I will call mine for the next academic year. After moving in, I came face to face with the catch-22 that is living here; you can’t do A without B, but you need B to do A. Then, there’s C floating around on the periphery and you really can’t piece together how that fits in to the whole fiasco. Getting setup was extremely frustrating at times but at least everyone I encountered along the way was as helpful as they could’ve been and always pleasant.
Not long after I had settled in, a good friend from the States, Molly, came to visit. We spent 10 days traveling the country. The first day we drank away in Dublin, then a quick night in Galway, followed by two nights on Inishmore in the stunning Aran Islands, finally screeching to a halt in Limerick where we were previously slated to only spend one night but stayed four. The trip was incredible; full of laughs, new friends, new love interests, beautiful landscapes, great music, and photographs, both mental and digital, to look back on for years to come. This was Molly’s first proper trip overseas and I warned her that it would be life-altering; positively, but potentially negatively, as well. Not only would it change her perspective of the world, but it would also lead her to reevaluate the comfortable routine she had established. For some, like myself, that can be devastating.
Molly’s decision to travel here, on her own for the first time, got me thinking about taking that initial step into the unknown. A lot of people never even get as far as lifting their foot off the ground, let alone placing it hesitantly in front of them. Fear is a major roadblock to doing the things we want to do in life. Fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of being alone, to name a few; one or more of these crosses every rational human being’s mind at some point before taking the plunge into a new experience. But, this is where it becomes a struggle of matter over mind, physically moving forward even when your mind is telling you to turn back. If you can enter into a mental battle to carry on when you are faced with fight or flight, you will undoubtedly change your life.
There will be moments after coming out of the ring where you will feel exhausted and unsure. Two days following my arrival in Dublin I found myself semi-paralyzed in the top bunk of the 18 bed hostel dorm, wondering what I had done. As I drew my knees closer to my chest, thinking about everything that lay ahead of me, I told myself I had made a mistake. I would buy a plane ticket to Baltimore and go back to the easy and familiar, unhappy or not. I didn’t actually want to be here. This was a mistake.
But of course, I put that first foot down, then the other, and plodded through all of the uncertainty and unpleasantness of establishing oneself in a new place. I can’t imagine where I would be now had I given in to the fear and doubt my mind projected in front of me like a bad movie. I can look back on my decision with a good amount of pride and add another chapter to my autobiography of self-awareness. The more you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, the more you will learn about how you tick.
On the eve of my first day of class, I reflect on the choices I’ve made thus far and all I have to show for them: great new friends, a comfortable home, a “local” bar where I can unwind, an ever-increasing ability to navigate the Dublin streets, a vocabulary peppered with Irish slang and sayings. If I had never followed through with my decision to come here, I would be missing out on all the ways one can build a life in a new place.
The saying goes that all good things must come to an end, but I think in life it’s the beginning that we should focus on. We can’t know the truly good experiences if we don’t bother to chase them. So, go on — go out and start your new beginning.