Mentally Preparing to Fly the Nest & Half Way Across the World!

7 More Sleeps

There’s a constant panic, a drive to live immediately. To make the most of every moment and make every interaction meaningful and overflowing with good vibes. To fuel good memories to keep you warm on cold nights like hot tea on trail. An intense desire to lock these memories away in a safe space in your head or in the more secure locker of your camera SD card. Is this panic-memory making? Is this a type of anticipated- F-O-M-O you can soothe by pre-empting all that will be missed before heading off into the wilderness? So much happens in six months, good time management and organisation skills can’t replicate this in a single week. There will be lots missed, but equally lots gained-  more than just calf muscles!

I remind myself I choose this reality. A very privileged one at that to experience a different lifestyle than one I’ve known so far, it’s both overwhelming and exhilarating. One my immigrant grandparents wouldn’t have ever imagined their granddaughter undertaking after they’ve worked so incredibly hard to create a safe home in a country that wasn’t our own, for the education, the career opportunities and ultimately the quality of life. And I choose to remove myself from this? Choosing to sleep in a tent rattled with wind when there’s a warm bed waiting for me at home. Choosing to filter water from murky ponds when the water runs clear and clean straight from the tap back in London. When I think of ripping myself from the everyday comforts of life that keep me safe, sheltered and loved, I have to remind myself exactly why I’m doing this, and why I’ve always wanted to do this. The wilderness, the little escape from society and of course, the adventure!

Pre-empting Homesickness

Deep within my stomach it tingles whenever I think of being half way across the world, in a drastically different time zone for weeks on end. The responsibility I won’t take with me and the part I play in peoples life will be void for a time. Being half way across the world from the people who made you who you are. I ask myself how do I justify a trip like this. On those nights when I feel I should be at home, I will remind myself of everyone who’s supported me in being here and remember the hundreds of things that seem to have magically fallen into place for this to happen. We’re lucky enough to choose to be uncomfortable for a few months, and in that there is a lot of insight and perspective to gain.

The Goodbyes, as the night comes to an end

Those last conversations as the night comes to an end, that last round of drinks, the ‘good lucks’ and tight hugs that go on for a few seconds longer than normal. The intense ache to make every moment leading up to departure a joyous memory. Those last moments and conversations don’t define a relationship, but I’m certain they’ll replay in my mind when I have a quiet moment, whether that’s with my eyes shut as we fly over the Atlantic or when I linger at the back of a group of new friends I’m yet to make.

All the logistics are sorted, the flights booked, visas secured, gear tested, food bought, bag packed and then repacked, and then repacked again. The third repacking is much more brutal and all sentimental items are removed. Ultimately these are material possessions and although they hold tons of sentimental meaning to me, everything I want to carry from these people is within me (and also on me as a tattoo, a reminder doesn’t hurt! Well it did hurt but #worthit). For me this is a way to carry sentimental items without the weight of it on my knees.

I’m certain this desire of needing to feel like people are with you is very common among thru hikers. To want to soak up everyone and every word and carry it with you like a sponge in the desert, there’d be a lot more water in the desert if we all did that! I spoke to a good friend about this and she said whenever you feel this creeping in, take a deep breath and think of something you can feel, something you can see, something you can taste and something you can smell -hopefully not yourself! To bring you back into the moment and the place you’ve wanted for so long to be, on trail. I hope this helps anyone else who is also dealing with the anxieties that can come with preparing to fly the nest and walk 2650 miles half way across the world.

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