Wanderlust is defined as: a strong desire to travel. I have always felt that wanderlust was a part of me, woven into my very soul. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to travel somewhere and see something new, and I think I always will.
I studied abroad in Mulhouse, France in college and had an amazing time. When I got back, I starting looking for my next opportunity to return to France. I finally graduated in May 2013, my diploma in hand, and was terrified of what came next. I spent the summer looking for jobs everywhere I could. I had a sudden realization that I was looking for jobs that I didn’t actually want to find. I wasn’t ready to grow up. I simply wanted to travel because I was consumed by wanderlust. After a suggestion from a friend, I started looking into being an au pair (a live-in nanny). I skyped several families but when I found my family in France, I thought that it could happen.
That was the moment I got gutsy. I stepped out of my comfort zone and will never forget sending the email to my host family confirming that I was going to go to Lyon, France for a year. I somehow decided to live with a family I only knew through a few skype calls. Lyon was a city I had barely heard of and I knew little about it before agreeing to go. I spoke French and studied it in college, but my host family spoke very little English. Realizing I was going to be speaking another language and not seeing my family and friends for a year was daunting and honestly terrifying. I knew I still had to go.
I distinctly remember standing in the airport with all my bags and turning around to my dad. I said, ” I can’t do this. I can’t go.” He told me it was a little too late, but it was something I really wanted to do so I had to try. It was the experience of a lifetime. I traveled all over Europe and did things that most people can only dream of doing. I met people that I will be friends with forever. My host family took me to the Alps, Paris, Rome and invited me into their lives to spend holidays and special moments with them.
I didn’t know the term “get gutsy” until recently, but it perfectly describes my experience. I have always had a determination to make myself happy and go after my dreams. My decision to be an au pair was not an easy one but I knew that I needed to go in order to be truly happy. Coming back was extremely difficult but I was determined to still be happy. There were many times that I wasn’t, but I got an internship with Visit Bucks County that I learned so much from. I step into 2015 doing marketing and bartending at a brewery called Free Will. I am working in the beer industry, something completely new to me, but I am having so much fun learning. I actually look forward to Mondays now. I feel pretty confident that someone can say, “She chased after her dreams. That girl is so gutsy.”
While on my adventures, I took pictures with signs in so many different places. In French they say: “Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the world.”
Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.