The Difference a Year Makes

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice

Hey Owlets,

It's my birthday!!

 As this is now the third birthday I’ve celebrated with you, I wanted to do something a little different. For my 20th birthday I did 20 Things I Learnt at 20, at 21 I did a Follow Me to and set myself some goals. 

This year I turn 22 and although being 21 hasn’t been the easiest, it’s been one of the most important years of my life. On my 21st birthday one of my older friends told me that being 21 was a great year and that I should treasure it, but I never expected just how true that would be. So this year I’m choosing to look back - not at what I’ve learnt or what Ive done as on previous birthdays, but how I’ve grown.

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice thornbury castle

On 18th May 2017 I turned 21. I celebrated by going to Thornbury Castle for afternoon tea with my parents and boyfriend. Twenty one is a big birthday for many people, and even though eighteen is when you would normally celebrate becoming an adult, as I turned 21, Dad turned 50 and my Nan turned 70 so we celebrated the year as a whole. As well as afternoon tea, we were able to hire a boat for the afternoon and invite all of my family along to celebrate - which in our case means questionably bright shirts, strange choices of music and loud belly laughs with family. For me this was perfect.

At 21 I was a homebody. I was set in my ways and hated change, even if that change needed to happen for me to be happy. I was an obsessive planner - spontaneous wasn’t even in my dictionary. Something as simple as arranging to go to London the next day was too much - if I had less than a week’s notice I wasn’t mentally prepared so I just wouldn’t go.

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice bristol harbour

Trains terrified me - actually I think it was more the thought of being more than a few miles away from my Bristolian safety net. As long as you were somewhere in Bristol there was no risk; I knew the city, I knew alternative ways to travel, I knew where to go and above all I knew that if I ever got stuck somewhere it might result in an ear-bashing but Mum and Dad would come to my rescue.

Travel anxiety was a theme that crippled everything I wanted to do. Leaving Bristol was monumental for me, even more so if it was done on less than a month’s notice. Home was always the safe place, both mentally and physically. If I was worried about going somewhere or seeing someone I just didn’t go. At one point even one of my own friends said they were surprised I didn’t cancel on them. For an entire year my passport gathered dust, sitting there in the hope that one day I would be brave enough to leave. 

And I did.

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice independence of the seas royal caribbean

If you’ve not read that story then have a look at my “Lessons from the Holiday of a Lifetime” post, but long story short, for the first time in my life I actually did something spontaneous. With less than my standard week’s notice, I not only left the city, but the country too.

When I say the holiday was life changing, I genuinely mean it. I don’t recognise the person I am today, from the person that a year ago was miserable 90% of the time.

A year later, my travel anxiety is still there but I control it, not the other way around. In a strange twist of fate, it’s a struggle to keep me in the same city for more than two days, and the same country for more than two months. Seeing somewhere that wasn’t green, rainy and saturated with cups of tea and beige food gave me an appetite that was stronger than what had been holding me back.

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice malaga

A year ago I obsessively planned everything - even a trip to the city that gave me arguably more joy than my West Country safety net. Instead of seeing what could go wrong, I’ve seen what can go so incredibly well when you’re willing to take a risk. At 22, spontaneity is no longer a hurdle, but a challenge. Packing up and leaving in under a week isn’t a battle, but an adventure. There’s something so much more exciting about leaving with no idea what you’re doing when, than having planned something to the minute a year in advance.

A year ago I wouldn’t leave Bristol, and if I did it was once in a blue moon and resulted in me feeling sick for two days before I stepped foot on a train that was going only an hour from home. 12 months later I not only travel regularly, but I’ve found another city that I can call home, outside of my Bristolian comfort zone. I split my life between two cities and rather than fill me with dread, it makes me happy. 

22 twenty two growing up travel anxiety advice cartagena

Most importantly, a year ago I was miserable. I felt trapped in a city, in a relationship and in my own boundaries. Going into my 22nd year, those boundaries are so far behind me it’s a struggle to remember that it’s the same person. I’ve distanced myself from the people that made me unhappy, I’ve challenged myself to feel uncomfortable and do things anyway.

A lot can change in a year, even if you don’t expect it. I’m not just walking into being 22 - I’m dancing into the next 365 days with my passport in hand and a suitcase at my side, ready to face the world.

Bring it on, 22.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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