Wherever you go, there you are. Glennon Doyle Melton
My husband and I have experienced a season of change the past couple of months. With his law school graduation, our decision to move back South after living six years in Boston, and the end of my first professional job, our usually reliable schedule has been turned upside down.
Don’t get me wrong, we were beyond thrilled to move closer to family and childhood friends. The New England winters were rough on our thin Alabama skins, and we missed that friendly drawling “How y’all doin’?” spoken by friends and strangers alike, as well as true authentic BBQ. Yet, as the countdown for our cross-country move began, I began feeling less confident and more anxious over the future.
Would we like our new home? Like Boston, Atlanta is a major city, with plenty of things to do and places to see. However, it has a completely different culture and attitude from Boston – would we fit in? Would I talk too fast, speak too curtly, act too impatient for a Southern woman? Would we still relate to our friends, or would we be struck with reverse culture shock? Would they find our New England penchant for efficient time management and frugality off-putting?
And that wasn’t the only adjustment to consider – because of how the Georgia dentist licensing test works, I would not be able to work until late October at the earliest, and only if I passed the hands-on test (and since I developed severe test anxiety in dental school, it’s not out of the range of possibilities to think it might take me a couple of tries).
Although my husband has a full-time job and we’re financially stable, I struggle with the idea of not pulling my own weight. He sweetly recommended I work on my freelance writing more, as he and I both know I am not completely fulfilled with my dental career. Eventually, I would like to write full time. However, those student loans are my burden, not his, and you only get paid to write once someone actually hires you. Realistically, I will probably need to continue working in the dental field for several more years.
So the week before our big move, I was a bit of an emotional spaz. I was struggling to fall asleep at night as hundreds of “what if?”s and worst-case scenarios flitted through my head. So when my husband suggested a trip to PEI, the home of my childhood heroine, Anne Shirley, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right frame of mind. How could I appreciate L.M. Montgomery’s beloved island when I was obsessing over packing lists? However, in the end we piled into our car for the 10 hour drive under the purple skies of Nova Scotia.
Isn’t it incredible how traveling can shift your perspective? As we walked around L.M. Montgomery’s birthplace and toured the real Green Gables (yes, it actually exists, even if Marilla and Matthew do not), I started to realize how fruitless my worries were. Yes, there was a lot of uncertainty coming up in my near future, but that also meant an opportunity for adventure. Life wouldn’t be so exciting if it was all mapped out ahead of time, now would it?
Take L.M. Montgomery’s life, for example. Even though she kept daily journals from a young age (like I do), she didn’t write Anne of Green Gables until she was 31, and it wasn’t published for another three years. She wasn’t married until she was 36, yet she still had three children and traveled the world AFTER marriage, in addition to a full writing career. Her life also had several “bends in the road,” and it was still full of joy.
Staring into the crystal blue Lake of Shining Waters, I realized that there was nothing to fear. I have stories to tell, and I have the discipline and tenacity to tell them. I will always be able to support myself, even if its in a different capacity or in a different city from what I imagined. No matter what new obstacles came across my path, I would learn to thrive from them. Instead of dwelling on whether or not I made the right decision to pursue dentistry, whether we made the right decision to move to Georgia, etc., I would be at peace knowing that whatever decision we make is the right one, because it happened.
So, I’ve decided to take on the attitude of Anne Shirley, who once says, “It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” I’m going to take these new experiences and changes, whatever they bring, and make joy out of them. Thanks for teaching me the Green Gables state of mind, PEI.
(P.S. I’ll be writing more about our actual trip activities in another post, just wanted to share how meaningful this trip was for me and a part of why Anne of Green Gable’s was included in my Top Ten Classic Books post from yesterday!)