We spend a large portion of our lives creating and maintaining safety nets for ourselves. These usually take the form of family, or a network of close friends. Having a job makes us feel secure, as does the mortgage which allows us to live in the house that protects us from the elements. Many people put effort into cultivating as many of these safety nets as possible, so if something goes wrong in one area of our life, we know we still have our brother to rely on, or those savings tucked away to cover the rent. If we let go (or are let go), then poof! We know there’s a fairly soft landing for us. It’ll be hard to climb back up the ladder and get on the trapeze again, but at least we didn’t go splat.
A couple of my friends recently moved to France. One has to complete four months at a French University for her Degree, and the other went for the adventure of living in a foreign country, trying to get a job in a place where he doesn’t speak the language so well, and generally seeing what he could achieve.
Both of them have the usual safety nets back here – family homes to go to, friends who miss them, and the Uni goer has a boyfriend to come back to. If it all goes wrong out there, they know they can come back to the UK to open arms and a place to stay. They won’t go splat.
But, how does this affect their feelings about the change?
All the Uni goer’s safety nets are here in England, at the moment. If she doesn’t make friends quickly, has trouble with a Professor or even just gets lost in the new town, her first thoughts will be about missing home, missing the comfort of her boyfriend and the ability to call us up at any time to hang out. For the adventurer, he has no specific reason to stay in France, other than his desire. If he doesn’t find a job fast enough then his option a) is to come right on home and start again.
We cultivate safety nets to catch us when we fall, but isn’t there more pressure to hang on when all that’s between you and that faraway sawdust strewn floor is the air?
I’m not suggesting a quick family-cide before setting off for a new country, or disposing of all your savings before setting up a new business venture (because you’ll need those…).
I am suggesting that before heading into unknown territories, we release ourselves from this safety net thinking. Don’t think about fallback option a) or fallback option b). There is no fallback. Tell your family not to get in touch. Lose your Savings Account number. Don’t look down. Focus completely on what you want or have to do. Then do it.
Because the only other option is: SPLAT.