Traveling: Worth the Stress?

I have made it to my destination in one piece. I have settled into my new dorm room, even met a couple of people already, and although my body has a few kinks in it, I at least have a bed to sleep in.

But I did not get to this point of taking it easy before my classes begin without some setbacks. Setbacks that could have easily resulted in some serious panicking. Which, to be fair, I spent most of my weekend trying to practice some yoga deep breathing to alleviate the tightness in my chest and restless limbs.

Anxiety is a normal part of travel. I haven’t traveled in a while, let alone on my own, so I hadn’t exactly expected the entirety that I did on Saturday and Sunday, but I’m so glad that I did. It made me realize that I truly can handle life’s little curve balls.

When I about to go through the gist of what went down, I’m sure it’ll sound much less dramatic than I made it out to be at the time, but that’s just the “beauty” of anxiety: you get lost in your own racing thoughts and exaggerate the reality. Especially when you have a certain plan set in your head, having to change gears to allow for something different can be scary.

I got up early on Saturday to make a 9 AM flight. The security line was nonexistent, I had a thermos full of coffee, and I was ready to take on the day. And everything about that leg went smoothly. It was when I got to Chicago O’Hare that it went downhill when weather took control. My personality is not the best when it comes to feeling out of control of the situation. I had planned to jump to New York and then Montreal, but due to winter weather, the flight was pushed back to late for me to make my Montreal flight. Insert increasing panic here.

My afternoon ended up consisting a lot of standing in line with two bags over my shoulders and praying for a miracle. It’s not like I was the only one having to rethink their travel plans. I already had a shuttle ready at a certain time in Montreal and a hotel reservation for the night, and I was not about to change those.

Luckily, however, I ended up with a seat on a direct flight from Chicago to Montreal later that evening. I had a lot of sitting to do (I almost made it through 2 novels that day) and I had to change the time for my shuttle and reroute my checked luggage. But I made it work and live to tell the tale. Sure, I was much later than I expected to arrive, but I set the goal to make it to my destination that day, and I did it. I even got to meet another person who goes to my university on the shuttle, which I’ll go into more in another post.

Sunday morning I was still beyond tired. Heck, I’m still tired today and am beyond grateful that class doesn’t start until Wednesday because I will need every day I have for myself to regroup and prepare for another semester. Yesterday I finally got to my dorm room, got lost getting to the grocery store, froze my butt off a little, and found all the random tidbits I thought I forgot but just put in really random places (no worries, everybody, I wasn’t crazy enough to forget a hairbrush).

With every opportunity or apparent setback comes a lesson. Cliche as it is, everything happens for a reason. When those moments do occur, a first instinct is to conjure up negative emotions that in no way assist us. The process itself to choose to travel or study abroad, all of the little details to consider, are enough to want to avoid it altogether. With all of that said, the energy and resourcefulness I needed this past weekend was well worth every second and penny. Not only is it empowering to know you can roll with the punches and rely on yourself, but it also reminded me of how far I’ve come in my own mental strength. I could have easily seen myself breaking down or see myself as a victim of my circumstances, but that would only hold me back. I certainly haven’t been the first person to navigate the potential questions and situations that aren’t expected. Life cannot be planned out detail-by-detail and know it will all go smoothly.

While I hope from here on out I have smooth sailing, I know if I do face a problem, I can use my resources and know that I can figure it out. It makes any minor inconveniences, like the few kinks I felt getting out of bed this morning or the single power outlet I found in my room, feel like nothing. With only going on my second full day in Canada, I am already reaping the benefits, and of all the things I should expect these next few months, it will be to learn and grow even more.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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