My journey to Chengdu didn’t go as smoothly as planned. My first flight, to Amsterdam, was delayed and after a whole day waiting in Heathrow I was told over the aeroplane speakers that I would miss my connection to China. This would mean navigating Amsterdam at night alone, something seemingly small now but in the moment it was a new experience, a stay in a hotel and a rescheduled, longer journey onward.
In the hotel, feeling disorientated and emotional, I wrote the following journal entry:
“I arrived here at the hotel in Amsterdam yesterday evening after a delayed flight, a missed connection and a teary, stressful venture to the transfer desk, shuttle and finally a crisp white hotel bed looking out at a bleak car park view. The perfect place for a meltdown.
I am reminded that this is just the beginning, my head trying to figure out if this is a test, to see if I am ready for what lies ahead, if it is a sign that I should not go, if it is a blessing, protection from what could have been.
But instead of answers I am just left with a buffet of fruit flies and food I cannot eat. I am left with a phone I can’t charge with a screen of ghost messages I have not received. I am left wondering if I am even capable of going on, if this was my dream to begin with, or if it even is now.
I guess the only way is to keep moving, one step at a time, trust in my past self and find myself in brighter things. Or on a plane back home.”
Back to the airport in the morning, I tumbled out of the airport shuttle along with a few other sleepy-eyed, muddled travellers, and thought to myself: This is the bravest thing I have ever done. This isn’t a case of jumping feet first in, “90% of the work is showing up”. This is taking in every possibility, considering all options, feeling the weight of this decision in every bone in my body and saying yes. To some people this might seem insignificant; flying alone thousands of miles across the globe, towards an uncertain future, a stifling language barrier and only myself to hold responsible for my success, in a much more obvious and unforgiving kind of way than back in the UK. But to me this is the most trust I have ever had to hold within myself, and I can’t expect anything of it but I hope that it has been the right choice.