I was living the so-called American dream. I was making $70k a year in a fun job with people my age. I had a decent apartment that was close to work, the beach, and all the fun things Los Angeles has to offer. My family was nearby and we were close. I had a great social life with friends in LA, but also San Diego and San Francisco.
The only downside, my boyfriend was off traveling the world. At that point, he had been in New Zealand for about seven months. We had started dating with the understanding that he had some adventures planned.
I thought he would come home, and we’d continue on the road of the American dream. He’d move to LA and we’d move in together. He’d get a job. We would save money. Get a dog or two. Travel, have fun, drink wine. Buy a house. Get married and have kids.
At least that was the plan I made up in my mind.
Like I said, at this point, he had been in Wellington, New Zealand for seven months on a working holiday visa. He was planning to come home in October 2011, but he wanted to move to Australia on another working holiday visa.
He wasn't ready to move back to the US.
This made me sad, but I brushed it off and reassured myself it would only add a few more months to the schedule. We'd be back on track in no time.
How I decided to move to Australia
While he was there, he and I didn’t get to talk a lot, which made the thought of having to wait another three to four months even more difficult.
He was on the opposite side of the world. Southern Hemisphere. About a 19 hour time difference. We both were working, so the only suitable time we could talk/Skype/GChat was late at night or early in the morning. This left me with tons of alone time to think.
What if I also got a working holiday visa and moved to Australia?
When this thought rushed through my mind, I immediately began to list every negative about this idea.
Reasons Why I Can’t Move Abroad:
- I have too many obligations here
- I still had tons of debts (Student loans... Oh, and those pesky credit card debts from college!)
- My family needs me
- My friends are going to be getting married
- I’ll have FOMO (was this even a term in 2011?)
- What would I do for money
- What would I do with my stuff
- I'm so close to paying off my car
- Plus a million more reasons
I did this for weeks. I told myself over and over again why I couldn’t move to Australia. It was an interesting and appealing idea, but it didn’t make any sense logically. I had everything going for me in LA. I was on a life path to continue checking off the imaginary boxes: House, dog, marriage, kids, etc.
I was entirely committed to my life plan, a change to the plan was completely unfathomable.
The What Ifs
When I was alone in my apartment, my mind would veer off to endless scenarios about moving to Australia. I called this, the what ifs.
What if I pay off my debts? I had about $20K in loans and credit card debt, which is so much money. What if I can't pay off my debt?
What if I go to Australia, how much money do I need to live there? At least 10K? What If I don't go could that money could go to a house?
What about my family? My nephews and my nieces were growing. Would they forget me if I left? Worse, what if something does happen to my family? What if nothing happens to my family, would I regret not going to Australia?
What about my friends? I could miss important life events like weddings and Coachella! OMG, what if someone gets pregnant? What if they do could I afford to buy a ticket home?
And my job? I had been working my butt off for the last five years and I was going to get promoted if I continued to work my butt off. How can I pick up and leave a secure job? How easy would it be to get a job there? What if I couldn't get a job in my field would I have to settle working at a grocery store?
This last part was the scariest: My boyfriend and I had always been long distance. He lived in Washington, DC, I lived in LA, and we met in Phoenix. We had a strong connection from the first time we met. A few years later, we became "official" but soon after he started his travels. We had spent long periods of time together, but we never lived together. What if we move in together and we found out we don’t like each other? Then what?
Fear is an indescribable feeling that can be immobilizing.
The deciding factor
After about a couple weeks of over thinking, positive thoughts crept into my crazy mind. I still had "what-ifs" running in the background, but I started to dream of moving to Australia. In those dreams, it somehow worked out and my mindset changed.
If I could achieve so much, (great job, close family and friends) how was a year away going to change that?
The fear changed from "the fear of leaving" to "the fear of never doing something big in my life". I thought, when am I going to be able to move to another country? When else would I get an opportunity to live on the opposite side of the world? It's Australia where they have freaking Kangaroos and Koalas!
What if I stay here, something happens to me, and I never get to go? Not even to visit?
To put it simply, WHY NOT MOVE TO AUSTRALIA? Why not go and be okay with not knowing the answers to the what ifs?
if it works out, great! If it doesn’t, oh well. I could move back, stay with friends, get a job and pick up exactly where I left.
It would be okay, most importantly I would be okay.
I'm moving to Australia
My what-ifs turned into why nots?
My obligation to life admin stuff turned into new goals.
My mentality changed to, “I can do this!”
When my boyfriend came back from New Zealand I told him the news! And then the planning started:
He would move to Australia in December, find a place to live, find work, and start to get our lives abroad sorted. I would start saving more money and pay off my debts. I would sell my stuff and store belongings at my Mom's house. I would quit my job in August, move out of my apartment, and say goodbyes to friends and family in September.
On September 20th, 2012, my boyfriend and I boarded a flight to Australia. Our plan was to stay for six months, but within the first four months of living there, we decided to stay. (more on that later).
Spoiler, we lived there for nearly four years!
When making big decisions in life, you immediately tell yourself all the reasons why you can’t do things. Your mind lists every reason why it doesn’t make sense. This is valid, but if you allow it, your brain also starts to entertain the possibilities. What-ifs (both good and bad) will appear, but so will legitimate options to move forward.
When it comes down to making these big life decisions ask yourself, "Do I want to do this?" Then it becomes a question of "What’s holding me back?"
Don't lear fear hold you back from doing what you thought was the impossible.
If you’re determined, who knows where you might end up?
Whether you made a big decision or have also moved abroad tell me what fears were holding you back and how you got over them in the comments below!