Feel the fear: Loggerhead sea turtle emergence: the turtles emerge in a group and proceed to crawl down the beach to the water

A friend once said the only way to follow your dreams is to put yourself in a position where you have no choice but to make it work.

Eighteen months ago, I walked away from my career after thirteen years. Eight months later, I packed up everything and moved interstate. I left my pole dance studio, my friends, and my family, to embark on a completely new journey. Over the same period, I lost both my fur-babies to cancer after fourteen years together, survived my partner’s latest crush, fell into a depression, and pulled myself back out.

For a long while, I struggled against the change, the uncertainty and fear. My relationships suffered. I blamed my partner for putting me in this situation, where I was lonely and afraid, where I couldn’t even afford to buy a coffee, let alone get a haircut. If I were still in Melbourne, I would say.

If I was still in Melbourne, I would have more clients, I would have a job, friends would surround me, I would still be advancing on the pole, and I wouldn’t feel so frightened.

I responded to my fears in the worst possible way: I hid. But by not facing them, I made them stronger. I allowed feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to consume me. Through avoidance, I became as hopeless and helpless as I imagined, feeling less capable and less in control until I was paralysed.

I screamed for my partner to acknowledge my pain and my fear. This was easy for him. He had friends here, a job to go to every day, and a salary to pay the bills. His friends had made it seem like this was going to be easy. They had offered to introduce me around and help me get a foothold, but hadn’t followed through. They had what they wanted: my partner had moved up here, why should they put themselves out for me? I was ready to run back to Melbourne, to the comfort of the familiar.

But if I was in Melbourne, it would be far too easy to slip back into my old life. How long would I withstand feelings of anxiety and depression before running back to the safe chokehold of salaried employment? What excuses would I give myself for not working to make this sea change succeed?

By blaming my partner and not accepting the choices I had made, I took away my agency. I needed to take a step back. Okay, so the move wasn’t as easy as I expected. Work wasn’t waiting for me and no one was going to introduce me. I would spend days alone while my partner worked and had to accept that he didn’t care to socialise when he returned home. I was going to have to make it on my own.

I also had to get over myself, ask for help, not get angry and project my feelings of helplessness onto others. I had to feel my fear and act anyway.

Then a few months ago, something shifted. I started to feel content, as if I was actually going to be okay.

Since then, my partner and I have found a new equilibrium. I no longer feel so alone, but supported by wonderful friends and family. I still experience moments of sadness, stress, nostalgia, anger, fear and frustration, but my emotions are within a healthy range. I’m not struggling just to get by each day. Instead, I feel grateful. I am fortunate to live in a gorgeous part of the world. I am helping clients and getting some amazing results. I am branching out with my writing. I have a new fur family, a new pole studio, new friends and old, and my relationship is thriving.

A big part of moving forward has been letting go, accepting the pain of change, the uncertainty and the fear. I have a safety net, but it’s tenuous and finite. I’m still frightened of my financial security, of whether I can make this work and support myself long-term, but I can live with that. I will find a way because I have to. I’m like a newly hatched sea turtle who has to fight its way to the ocean regardless of the hazards, because to cower in its shell from fear is certain death.

I don’t think I could have done this if I had remained where I was. Even if I had reduced my salaried hours further, being in that office environment was so unhealthy, physically and emotionally. To go back now would be to turn my back on everything I have worked so hard to achieve, and I’m not ready to give up. I’m just getting started.

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