So the day has finally come. October 10th. What I like to call “the first day of the rest of my life”.
(ENG only) “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known, can’t wait for tomorrow, I might not have that long” Smashing Pumpkins, Today
Today is the day my life somehow changes. Today is the day I leave fon an exciting trip, first time outside of Europe in 19 years. Today is the day I start realizing that I won’t be going back to the office and company I worked for the past 2,5 years once I come back from Bali. Today is the first day towards a journey that won’t bring me back to a full time job anymore because I want to work only part time from now on, so I can have more time to live my life. Today is the day when financial insecurities might begin but my mental health starts gaining (hopefully) a lifetime of happiness. Today is the day everything will start to be different because I want to be better than I was yesterday. Today is full of promise and exciting surprises, and yet full of scary uncertainty.
I am sitting on plane number 2, on my way to Jakarta, Indonesia, while writing this post.
Today (well technically yesterday, but this just feels like today, I mean yesterday, I mean… okay I’ve been awake since what looks like forever, so you get it, right? ;D ) I woke up feeling strange but thrilled. I had lots of to-dos to tackle before leaving, and I mostly did. I even managed somehow to film a video (which I probably won’t be satisfied about once I’ll edit the footage, which is usual for me, but I did manage to film it in no time, which is fairly unusual for me and my anxious self). We got to the airport feeling ready, psyched, over the moon. We checked-in online already, but we did have to queue anyway at the check-in desk. I felt calm and chit chatted with babe until our turn came. We were flying carry on only as usual, but unlike the other times, this time we had to put our backpacks on the scale: babe went first (slightly overweight) and then my turn came. My backpack was overweight. The lady didn’t want to let me carry it to the plane, it had to be checked in (free of charge). I told her that that is my only bag, but she insists and tells me that I can eventually get out of the bag what I want to carry with me for the flights and check the rest. I start panicking. I consider myself an organized traveller, because I hate situations like this one. I’m there, at the check in counter, trying to decide what I can have with me for the next 27+ hours. I know it’s not a big deal, but I literally started panicking: my carefully made baggage, which I thought was already streamlined to the bare essentials, was way too heavy for Turkish Airlines. So not only I didn’t manage to be below the 8 kg limit, but my backpack was even overweight. It was very stupid of me not weighing it at home first, I know, but in years of traveling just carry on, nobody ever put my backpack on the scale. Probably because I haven’t been flying intercontinental in ages, and within Europe so far this never happened.
In that moment, out of nothing, I started having a bad anxiety attack. I started sweating, rattling nervously and randomly in my bag trying to pull things out of it and placing them in the smaller backpack I packed as a day bag for the trip. I felt all eyes on me, I felt stupid for not having thought about it, I felt worried and frustrated, with a million questions already floating in my head. The more I tried to be faster with the unpacking process, the more I felt that people were staring at me and the more I got anxious. Somehow, I got myself together a bit, pulled out the essentials and the valuable items and handed the bag that had to be checked. I left the line and went to a corner. And then it hit me. I started sobbing and breathing heavily, unable to relax and let go of what just happened. If it was someone else, probably the story would already be over, or it probably wouldn’t even have started in the first place. But not me.
In that moment I felt a stupid failure. Like most of the times happens, I couldn’t let go of it and the more I kept sobbing trying desperately to calm down, the more I felt like everyone was staring at me. I had only three things floating in my head:
1) I am stupid and I look like one for not having planned well
2) I failed big time at being a minimalist traveler because I was supposed to travel with way less than a 11,5kg backpack
3) this is going to make us lose our flight once we land in Jakarta because I’ll have to collect my freaking piece of luggage first and 1 and a half hour is not enough for the whole process.
I screwed it all up. This is what was floating in my head for several minutes. And I was extremely frustrated because I wanted this particular day to be okay, with no drama and no fuss.
Well, unfortunately, this does not aways happen. And when the drama or what I didn’t see coming actually comes, well I better learn how to react properly. Because shit, big or small, happens. And I want to learn how to work on my reactions in a way that I can handle my anxiety and my worries better rather than just having an attack in front of bunch of strangers in an airport. I can’t control what others do, but I can control my reactions and my emotions when something out of my power happens. And if know I can’t control my reactions like I’d like to, I’ll find a way to do it.
So yeah, if you happened to be at Tegel Airport on the 10th of October passing by or queueing at the Turkish Airlines check in counter and saw a young lady apparently just sobbing because she had to let her piece of hand luggage checked, well… yep, it was me. And my twisted little brain tricked me into an anxiety attack right there, in front of everyone.
So, long story short, babe was amazingly sweet and helped me calm down. And yeah, guess what, I managed to survive without some of my stuff during the first two flights. And no, I am not stupid for having to unpack some of my things at the check in counter unexpectedly.
Okay Jen, so why exactly are you sharing this story with us? Well, today (yesterday for you), October 10th is World Mental Health Day. And I hope that sharing this is going to encourage you all to be more open about your mental health and your struggles, because there is no shame in being different or in having some issues, and there should be no shame at all. I made myself promise to be more open about this, and I hope you’ll do this too. Because keeping everything inside hoping that this will make us look “normal”, well, guess what, it won’t work. And trying desperately to look “normal” (according to whose standards, by the way?) and pretending to be someone we are not is not going to work either.
After what feels like a shitload of minutes, I managed to calm down and jumped onto that plane ready to embrace myself for who I am and give myself credit for the person that I am. Because learning to do this, is probably the hardest thing to do, but it’s the only thing that can make us feel good about ourselves in the end. Accepting ourselves for who we really are and stopping forcing ourselves to be someone else.
So now hit me with your crazy travel stories and let’s make a toast to the wonderful human beings that we are, even when crying at airports or freaking out about whatever random shit that happens when traveling.
PS: If you made it reading this far, congratulations!! Here’s a small spoiler alert: for some kind of miraculous reason, we didn’t miss our last flight from Jakarta to Bali, even if we were incredibly late due to the baggage pick up. Babe couldn’t stop saying “I told you we weren’t going to miss it!!”, so I am going to give him credit for this: he’s certainly the rational part amongst the two of us. Thanks for helping me maintain my sanity <3
And here’s a quote that I hope will make you smile today.
<<There’s a quote from The Breakfast Club that goes “We’re all pretty bizzarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it”. I have it on poster but took a Sharpie to it and scratched out the word “hiding” because it reminds me that there’s a certain pride and freedom that comes from wearing your unique bizarreness like a badge of honor.>> Jenny Lawson, Furiously happy