Europe

Breathing Through the Fear

If crocuses can bloom in the snow, then so can I.

If crocuses can bloom in the snow, then so can I.

By Day Two in Germany, I’ve already fallen in love with it. It’s beautiful here- chilly, yes, but the sun is nice and the neighbours are friendly. The town is quiet on Sunday, because everything is closed, and every evening at Vespers we get a beautiful chorus of bells from the church across the valley. Every day we try something new- German yogurt that’s a rich mix of tangy and sweet, shopping for sheets without knowing how they’re “done” in this country, buying fresh bread from the Toom (grocery store) down the Autobahn. Even the cat seems thrilled with this new apartment and its proximity to a back yard.

Moving here seems utterly natural for us. And yet I realize there are things about this move that scare me. Some fears are ridiculous- including the fear that I’ll grow accustomed to techno- but some are more than legitimate. None of these fears will stop me. But they’ve certainly been contributing to my stress load this whole semester, and it’s beginning to get on my nerves. So here I go, with a giant deep breath, to get them off my chest and out into the world.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to learn German. I’m afraid I’ll learn German but have offensively bad pronunciation. I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a job. I’m afraid I’ll be able to find a job but won’t be able to convince the German government I need a work visa. I’m afraid of getting into car accidents with all the drivers on the Scary Roads of Death. I’m afraid of being too far away from the people who need me, and who I too need. I’m afraid of being unable to get medical care from either German or American hospitals. I’m afraid of losing my paperwork. I’m afraid of being unable to find things I can eat and that won’t get destroyed in our bizarre freezer-fridge. I’m afraid of feeling out-of-place and strange for our entire time there. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make German friends. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make any friends. I’m afraid that I’ll be too afraid to let this be wonderful.

Here’s another deep breath, for having put that out there. It can be difficult for someone as brassy and adventurous as I am to admit to being afraid of anything. But as I learned from my experience with moving to Montreal, being afraid is not the same thing as being a coward. If I were a coward, I would have told my partner to take a job in the United States. If I were a coward, I would never have committed to this move in the first place. Being afraid is natural; it lets all of us recognize our insecurities and the very real challenges that we must deal with. Being a coward, on the other hand, is letting those fears and insecurities stop us from going as far as we truly can.

So with one last deep breath, I’m going to get on board with this adventure and see where it takes me. I’ll bring a lot of patience and a willingness to let life turn out differently than I’m expecting. And on top of all that, I’ll do my best to remember that everything will work out in the end and generate many stories to tell in the future. After all, where’s the fun writing all my articles without ever doing anything?

I would like to dedicate this post to my amazing friend Ali Bloch, who passed away after her battle with brain cancer on March 15, 2010 and who never let her fear get in the way of anything she wanted to do.

Erica Laue
Erica first set foot on a plane when she was ten months old. 28 years, 18 countries, and four continents later, the travel bug’s still strong in her veins, and she's become increasingly engaged with issues of power, gender, sex, equality, and access around the world.

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