How Abandoning My Life and Crossing the Country Gave Me Strength

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A young woman running a century-old community newspaper, managing a team of reporters, and representing the voice of over 22,000 people in a rural Quebec region isn’t the type you’d expect to drop everything. Let alone head across the country and make a fresh start. But then again, I’ve never been one for stereotypes.

I was 24, holding the job of my dreams. Despite my achievements, I still felt like there could be more for me. I itched to see what else was out there, what challenges I could tackle. And even though my default attitude had been to stay satisfied with where I was and make the safest choice, I searched for an alternative. A way to change my life for the better. And travel was part of how I found that answer.

It’s not an easy decision for most. It involves financial burden, a decisiveness to commit time and energy into something that may or may not pan out. And it involved me giving up the life I had carved out for myself.

Teetering on the precipice of making a life change is frightening. It’s a cocktail of butterflies and hesitancy and excitement of what the great unknown can bring. But as I headed west to follow that yellow dotted line along the TransCanada Highway, I began to feel my shoulders loosen.

As the rock formations transformed from crater-like to mountainous, the birds from Canadian geese to fluttering prairie starlings, my knuckles on the steering wheel regained their colour.

Truth is, seeing the beauty of our country made me realize something. Each road I turned down could lead me to a new possibility—good or bad—but it would still help me find my way. Each new person I met and every experience I took in would compile into my system to shape my unique perspective. As I overcame that overwhelming feeling of hesitancy embarking on a new chapter of my life, I realized every new adventure begins with a lot of fear and a little bravery.

The drivers on that highway and the people I met in the towns I stopped at shared with me a time and space that represented a chapter of our life’s stories, a flash of what, for a brief moment in time, moulded part of the foundations of who we are.

And I am grateful I was able to overcome those fears and make that trip. I met some of my closest friends at my destination, relationships I still cherish to this day.

I look back at that road trip with fondness now, admiring all the wonderful stories I captured in my journal that summer and flipping through photos I saved. But what I cherish most about taking that leap is that if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And I am so grateful for it.