I really did have it all: a roof over my head, wonderful friends, my upper-middle class family’s support, and California private university education. Why, then, did I choose to leave this expansive, hand-woven security blanket for one as thin as a dryer sheet that leaves your feet exposed to the elements? Because, truth be told, my security blanket felt so impossibly large that it was making me suffocate and begin to experience simultaneous claustrophobia and agoraphobia.
Simple tasks terrified me. Some days I was only capable of leaving my room after a flurry of breathless muttering: “fuck, fuck, fuck, shit, god damn it, just leave your room, just leave your fucking room.” I had my first panic attack at 15. I didn’t know what the hell was happening, but it felt like death. My heart’s cadence was akin to a pre-teen with ADHD learning to play the drums, I felt like I couldn’t get enough air no matter how much oxygen was forced into my lungs, and I was cold-sweating enough to look like l was competing in a mental marathon.
My anxiety and panic attacks continued consistently for the next seven years. I still have anxiety, but haven’t had a full-blown panic attack in a few months *knocks on wood/breaks wishbone/holds rabbit’s foot*. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming my cushy upbringing for my predisposition to anxiety and panic attacks. But I became addicted to my blanket’s consistency, to its unrelenting warmth, and it was not making matters any better. If anything, it was reinforcing anxiety’s grip.
A few months ago I graduated from University. I studied business administration, despite my disinterest in the subject. It was mostly to appease my parents. My true passions lie in the arts, but I was denied from my school’s design program… twice, although I did end up minoring in graphic design. So here I was, a twenty-three year old graduate with a smattering of knowledge at best in various subjects, feeling unqualified for a position in any field. This is where the life of uncertainty comes in, and things start getting interesting.
I was terrified of pursuing anything, because at this point fear was sitting on my shoulder whispering sweet paranoias in my ear. I lived in an empire of self-doubt and anxiety was the ruthless tyrant. My roommate and dear friend Anya Milioutina also went through quite an ordeal a few months prior. Her sense of security manifested in the promise of her career as lead designer at a start-up in Southern California. But, much like a waiter’s failed attempt at removing a tablecloth without first moving the china and silverware, it all came crashing down. This is where we came up with the idea to leave everything behind and become digital nomads.
So we purchased a one-way ticket out of the United States and were instantly propelled into a world of mass bewilderment. But, amidst the chaos of having life’s landscape architect rip me out the ground and revealing my extensive root system buried underneath, I feel a sense of calm. Yes, I’m still terrified, but though some may view this decision as wildly irresponsible I know it’s absolutely necessary. It is an integral step for me to take to show myself that I am more than my anxiety, to unearth where my passions lie and where they will take me, and most importantly: to discover what I am capable of.
Much love & many adventures,