And then the phone rang and in an instant, my whole life was shifting gears.
I interviewed and accepted a job in the middle of Arizona. I had never been west of the Mississippi. I had never lived more than an hour away from my family and friends. Yet here I was shipping myself out to Arizona for a job I didn't know I could even actually do. Was I crazy? Hell yeah.
Looking back on it, it seems like an asinine idea. Frankly, who the hell packs up all of their stuff into their Subaru, drives 2,400 miles across the country to a town she's never heard of, to start life all over again? I didn't know where I was going to live. I didn't know a single soul there. I went solely because I had a job. Who the hell does that? Apparently I do.
Arizona didn't work out in the end. It was beautiful and special while it lasted. It still is. But it wasn't meant to be, and in fact, I see now how I needed Arizona to get me to where I am in life. Arizona made me reevaluate everything. Arizona changed me. I'm still changing.
Most of you know, I'm not someone who takes risks. I'm someone who lives peacefully inside my comfort zone because it's safe here. Yet when I moved to Arizona people praised me and said how brave I was. I honestly didn't understand that until just recently. I moved to Arizona because I loved teaching and I'd do whatever it took to be able to teach. Arizona just happened to be the answer. I wasn't being brave when I went there, I was following my heart.
This is something I didn't understand until now.
For me, moving to Arizona was an easy decision. I literally agreed to it without question. Because my heart knew it was what it wanted. And my brain was in agreement because I would be the one in control. You see, I stay inside my little comfort zone because I'm the one who makes it safe here. I have control.
But what kind of life is that?
I'm really good at having an open heart and accepting lots of new people and friends into my life. But there are few that I actually allow to get close enough to me. I'm the kind of person that'll be your best friend and back you up through thick and thicker, but when the time comes, I don't expect you to be able to do that for me. And recently, when I thought about just how far I keep most people away, I realized there's nothing comforting about this shitty comfort zone. In fact, it's lonely here. I know how the comfort zone works. I know the outcome of any new friendships or relationships that come my way because I'm not quick to let the walls I've built around my comfort zone down.
I don't want to be the kind of person who does that anymore.
And so, I decided to take a risk. I decided to free myself from the chains only I had created. I decided to let go of the past and the people that have hurt me before. I decided it was the goddamn time to be brave. Being brave meant I had to listen to my heart.
And frankly, that's terrifying.
As I sit here and write, I don't have any good conclusions to give you. I have no new insights about following your heart. I don't know what the next five minutes might contain, let alone the next five years. I don't know what happens next. But do any of us? Isn't that the poetic injustice of the universe we live in? We don't know what happens next. We don't even know how much of "next" we'll have.
There's only one thing I do know: It's not easy and it's not without pain, but I'm leaving this comfort zone.
I'm going to be brave.
And you need to too.