I was sitting in the living room of my sorority house the other day, working on my Czech and, like many student houses in the spring, the topic of graduation is the sleeping beast in the corner. Everyone tiptoes around it, lest a wave of panic wash over the graduating seniors. It's a delicate balance between being excited for the future and horror at the fact that someone, somewhere let us be full-fledged adults who are going to have real jobs and their own insurance and take care of something other than an anemic-looking cactus on our bookshelves. It seems like only a hop skip and a jump away from slicing up oranges and hauling your minivan full of 8-year-olds to soccer practice. Needless to say, we're all in denial.
Carolyn, our sweet cleaning lady was in the living room with me and had asked about what my plans were for the summer (she has been around long enough to know not to use the G-word after Christmas). I told her I'd be going home to be with my family for a few weeks before I started my job and that I planned to spend some time with my grandmother because I barely get to see her during the year and that was only going to get harder. My Grandma Alice is one of the most important people in my world and has always been a huge source of advice, love and support. Many favorite memories are with her, standing around in her kitchen and having real, honest talks about life.
"Well, it's not like you're going to be halfway across the world," Carolyn chimed in. Gulp.
"Actually..." And I felt something new drop in my stomach as I began to tell her that I'm really leaving for the Czech Republic to start a job in July. And as we launched into how exciting the whole prospect of expat life is going to be and how in love I am with Prague, that nagging feeling of fear kept gnawing away at me, but after she left, I realized a few very important things.
The decision to move to Prague was more than a whim. I'm not avoiding adulthood. Ever since I first stepped outside the airport in 2013, I knew that this city would keep calling me home. I keep returning and I know this is where I'm supposed to be. It's a calling that I have to respond to, so when that job offer landed in my inbox at an absurdly early hour, I responded within minutes. I had no doubt that my answer was going to be anything other than an enthusiastic, "yes." I could feel in the very depths of my soul that I'm supposed to go.
But as anyone knows, saying yes to one big thing means saying no to many other smaller things, and that has been swirling around in my head since I signed the contracts. Sometimes preparing for this new life can seem like a long series of yeses and nos. I'll eat trdelníks and drink Kozel to my heart's content, but I'm saying no to s'mores at the lake and my Saturday morning coffee runs with my family. I feel like I'm going home to the Czech Republic, but part of my heart will always be with my family and friends in the American Midwest.
I'm realizing now that life abroad is going to be very different from the study abroad experience I had in college. This is real, adult life with fewer safety nets and more paperwork. I'm missing out on the lives of the people I love. Some days it can feel overwhelming and scary, but I've learned over the last few months that bravery and apprehension aren't mutually exclusive, and when you know something as deeply as I know I'm supposed to be in Prague, the only thing you can possibly do is say yes and dive in with both feet, even if it scares you. Especially if it scares you.
If there's something big that you're being led to again and again, I challenge you to say yes. Be brave. Know in your soul that the journey to that yes may have been long and hard but it will bring you closer to the person you were made to be. So what are you waiting for?