The Scariest Thing I've Ever Done Was 100% Worth It
Today is Tuesday, February 19th, and I’ve just returned from the best trip of my adult life. As I’m reflecting back on all of it - the fantastic memories, the wonderful people I met, and of course…all the food - I’m also thinking back on the first solo trip I took post-college, to London, for the internship of a lifetime at a magazine.
Back in spring of 2016, I found myself at a frustrating point in my career - that happy little no-man’s-land where you need experience to get a job but with no experience y’ain’t gettin’ no job? And if you do get a job, forget it being something you love to do. We’ve all been there. So following undergrad, I’d taken positions in a field and industry that wasn’t a fit for me and I wasn’t passionate about. In fact, I began dreading going to work.
After several months of this, something needed to change. So, figuring I had nothing to lose (…lol), I reached back out to my contact at Women’s Health Magazine UK. I’d been offered a position at their features desk as a college senior, but accepting it would have interrupted my timeline for graduation. I was ready to be done with school, so I declined, emphasizing that if they had summer openings I’d love to hear back from them. I hadn’t heard back.
So I followed up. And they replied…and they offered it again. An internship opening in two months, or another one in four, which one would you like? In their Soho office. In London. At a Hearst Magazines office. At their Features Desk. My dream job.
But the decision had me fraught with anxiety. Unpaid? And only an internship? What about my safe job? And my then-boyfriend? And my cozy East Coast lifestyle? What if I fell in love with it and wanted to move there? How would I pay for it? What would I do when I came back?
Despite the fears though, the more I thought about it, the faster my heart started thumping in my chest. And the more I knew it was what I was passionate about, and I couldn’t say no to it. It made little practical sense to say yes, and yet I knew that turning this down again would be denying my heart something that I absolutely loved to do, and that was writing.
So I emailed back and accepted the offer. I worked extra jobs that summer, and then I quit my job. I started working 50-60-hour weeks, moved in with family friends when my lease ended to cut rent/utilities costs, and save save saved like an absolute fiend. With everything I had, I completely threw myself into making this work, despite the odds and short timeline. For the first time ever, I felt what it was like to chase after something I wanted more than anything. Failure, in my mind, was simply not an option.
The stress was massive, and it was the hardest summer of my life, but from all my jobs I met lots of great people and learned to manage my stress through comic relief, joking with my coworkers and laughing at my often sleep-deprived deliriousness. I had to say no to a lot of things (including a trip I’d already booked to California, which I decided to cut to save money). I learned full-on survival mode, ruthlessly examining my financial habits, tweaking, adjusting, implementing everything that was in my power to control to save as much money as I could.
But if I could do it all again tomorrow, I would in a heartbeat.
The summer came and went, and off I went, flying from Dulles to Heathrow that fall. And I loved it. In living there, I fell madly in love with England and the Brits and all their propriety and dignified lifestyle. In working there, I reignited my passion to write. Working in a magazine was my favorite thing I’ve ever done professionally, and even better was realizing a passion for learning how to live our healthiest lives as young women and relaying that knowledge to our readership.
I interviewed professional cheerleaders (which was a great idea to show up for with a pale face and no makeup), attended fancy PR events hosted by brand partners, tested and reviewed new workout trends, and had a few pieces assigned and now published on their website. I even got to listen to an interview a coworker had with Melanie C., better known as Sporty Spice, on how she stays fit and healthy. They pushed me to speak up in editorial meetings and pitch new ideas with confidence. I worked very hard, doing mostly reading and writing and editing others’ writing, leaving me completely spent, every day. To top it, I had a long commute into London every day, which left little time to come home and meal prep before falling into bed. But I woke up so excited to go to work every day, wondering what I would learn and what I might accomplish. You can’t put a price on that.
That was my last trip overseas, a bit over two years ago. This time around, committing to another cross-pond jaunty romp was a no-brainer. Thankfully I didn’t have to quit my job this time to do it, but it’s a sacrifice nonetheless. Still, I came home with enough stories, memories, and new friends from new countries as my souvenirs to leave me on a passport-fueled high for a while. And with that, any fears that creep up when I’m faced with new decisions that are both exciting and scary are less likely to stop me, because I know I can do it. I already have!
So, what’s holding you back from taking a leap?