This post is the first in a series of posts about a recent trip I took to Turkey.
I have wanted to travel internationally for most of my life. It all began with reading a children’s book that had been my Mothers, Eloise in Moscow. I still love that book, and because of it I will someday make my way to Moscow.
Despite my desire International travel was not something that I felt was possible for me until recently. For one it is difficult to imagine sitting on a plane for 6, 10, 12+ hours when you weigh more than 400 pounds and flying domestically doesn’t even seem viable. An even bigger barrier was the level of anxiety in my life. As a complex-systems thinker I can come up with 20 disaster scenarios in 30 seconds or less at any given moment, and when that drives your life, mixed with a belief that your worth is performative… well getting in a giant tube you can’t get out of with a bunch of strangers who you think will judge you every moment and in a situation where you will be squashed and bruised and terrified you will die of SOMETHING at any moment just isn’t high on the priority list. That doesn’t even get into what might happen when the plane landed! There were other reasons too, like I was in grad school with no money and i did not yet have the same view of “making things happen” that I do now.
When I first decided to figure out how to thrive in my life, instead of just survive, travel was a big motivator. To me thriving includes experiencing as much as I can, and that definitely includes travel. So as I dropped weight, and gained confidence in my own ability to function getting on a plane became more possible. At about the same time I started a new job, one that would require some travel, and making the choice to step out in faith that by the time I needed to get on a plane I would be ready to do so is a choice that will someday be a post in itself, I’m sure. That first business trip I was terrified I would be thrown off the plane, but when I returned home, successfully having gone from WI to Colorado, I felt like a new world had opened up to me. I then promptly booked a dream trip to Seattle, WA and have been toodling around the US since. Ok, it wasn’t quite that easy, but that was the outcome!
So enter this year. I had promised myself a trip to Scotland when I had dropped 100 pounds, but never took it. I decided that THIS was the year that it was going to happen, so planning has been going on in earnest. Christmas was full of presents from my parents of things that would be helpful like outlet adapters, and noise canceling headphones. I’m mentally ramping up for my first international trip this summer, and I have a friend who has traveled a lot and is helping me with planning. Go me! I am already feeling quite proud of myself, and how different the thought about going to Scotland feels. Little did I know all of this prep would also make another trip possible!
One day over lunch another friend who will be traveling to Scotland for work this Spring mentions that Turkish Air is running a pretty deep fare sale and she got her flight very cheap, I should check it out. Despite my suspicion that the fares were only for spring travel I did, and what I found was that yes, the fares were only good through April (too early to go to Scotland if you want to hike in the Highlands not through snow), but that the sale was to many locations, not just Edinburgh, including a ridiculous price to go to Istanbul Turkey.
Now I had planned to go to Istanbul 2 years ago for a good friend’s wedding. It was a big deal, and while my eventual bailing did have some rational basis in that I was in a walking boot trying to heal a “sort of” broken foot, the real reason I bailed was that it just wasn’t possible for me yet. I didn’t have the mental ways of thinking to overcome all of the anxiety, fear, and general overwhelming-ness (it is so a word) of such a trip. I can see that now, looking back.
But now, I looked at the ridiculous fare and my first thought was – oooo, that would be fun! I half jokingly emailed my travel guru friend to see if she might want to go in March or April, plenty of time to plan. Her response was a resounding yes, but with one caveat. Due to her work schedule we would need to go… next week.
Here I had the first of many choices to make. I could dismiss the possibility of such a trip on such short notice. Which in my mind was the choice that would lead to me continuing the type of life I have been living. Not a bad life to be sure, and by many definitions highly successful, but not the life I dreamed of. Or I could look at ways to make it happen. To make the bold choice, to step up and live like the person I want to be, and that person DEFINITELY wanted to go to Turkey on a whim. The amount of resonance of this choice was almost deafening.
So my friend and I started a serious discussion about whether this could happen. We had 12 hours to decide, no problem!
Over the course of that 12 hours, beginning on a Tuesday night, our tentative itinerary went from leaving the next Monday, to leaving Thursday. We had to leave by Friday or the trip wouldn’t be long enough to be worth it, and if we were going to do that I didn’t have anything specific going on on Thursday, so why wouldn’t we just leave then? I lost count of how many times one or the other of us said, “Oh my god, are we really doing this?”
And we really were! We bought our tickets Wednesday afternoon and were on a flight to Istanbul just over 24 hours later. For people that know both my friend and I they assume that she was the instigator. In the past it would have been an incredibly safe assumption. But not this time. In the life I am creating, I do this sort of thing, and I suspect that specific choice, the choice to follow my desires and step into the life I want, instead of listening to the “safe, should” voices, will be something I am forever proud of. It is a choice made possible only by all the other choices toward change I have made, which is awesome.
Taking the trip with so little planning required us to approach it with the mindset of “this will all work out.” Something that was tested over and over again… and things always did work out! Did I mention we bought tickets before I could reach my Turkish friend? We had a back up plan but didn’t know for sure where we would be staying, what we would be doing… or any of that.
That night I went to bed and my last thought was, “Holy Sh*t, I’m going to Turkey tomorrow.” and a big part of me still didn’t believe it.