I spent years thinking: I wish I’d done that. My “that” list was pretty specific: I wanted to be a foreign exchange student, study abroad, take a gap year, quit my job and travel for a year.
My wish list went on for a lot of years, but I never did anything about fulfilling those dreams. I first wanted to be a foreign exchange student when I was about 12. Studying abroad was what I longed to do throughout high school and university. Taking a gap year was what I wanted after getting my degree.
But the practical, academic, hard-working, Midwestern side of me always won out and I did what I thought were the right things: studied hard, got good grades, went to university, landed an interesting job, bought a house, got married.
With the benefit of hindsight, I think that because all my wishes were travel-related, I somehow decided they were not practical. So I pushed them aside. I did as much travel as I could, but I never moved abroad.
And the more I settled into my admittedly very nice life, the more I regretted NOT following through on those living abroad dreams. It finally reached the point where I felt I could give up all I’d worked for to actually follow through on the dream.
So nine years ago this month, I moved to Europe. (Luckily, Robert shared the same dream and got the job that enabled us to move.) It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, moving away from my family and friends, giving up my job and trying to live in a country where I had absolutely no connections has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But the reward for following your dreams is living them. So this girl from the Midwest now lives in Europe. And that makes me happy.