Graduate, don’t run away from



For a long time, I believed I would travel. See the world. Experience culture. My words were convincing; my actions were not. I never had money in the bank. There was always something to spend my hard earned cash on. A big night out. Another takeaway. Or a reckless purchase. Truth be told, I didn’t know where most of my money went.

Financial insecurity kept me in Belfast. Kept me from doing a big trip during my extended summers. It prepared me for travel where you are cautious about spending. You care more if every penny counts. How little can I spend today is my favourite game. The goal is always zero. Sometimes it happens. Yesterday was a zero day. Fresh fruit for breakfast. A huge lunch of rice, vegetables and salad at school and a big feed of spuds for dinner. Water over coffee. Not even entertaining the thought of a beer.

When I finished university I wrote down 100 goals. In the last seven months I have achieved over 40. Taking strides towards many more. Setting intention affects your actions. Take the time to deliberate over your life. Use your imagination for positivity. No dream is too big. Be bold with your ambitions and humble with your approach.

The week before I left I was scared. Worried that I was leaving behind an incredible situation. Great friends. A job I was relishing. A loving family. I felt content in Magheralin. Comfortable. Part of me was pleading to stay.

That voice stayed in Ireland. It didn’t make it onto the plane. It has been replaced though. Learning a new language comes wrapped in self doubt. Words fail me on a near constant basis in Bilbao. The encouraging thing is, it’s normal. It’s OK. It’s actually liberating to be in an environment so accepting of your mistakes.

When I walked around Belfast I was quick. It was easy to stride past people. Like I had somewhere to be. Five minutes ago. My long legs never breaking stride. The pace here is different. Overtaking a fellow stroller is unusual. Slow down. Absorb the world around you. Notice the smells. The colours. Notice something you never saw before on a street you walk down every day. Nobody is ever late. You arrive precisely when you’re supposed to. A luxury I previously thought was exclusively for wizards.

It isn’t easy to leave. I’ve struggled to leave relationships, jobs and bars. It is better to graduate than to run away. When you leave on a high you’re free of regrets. Nothing scary remains because you’ve left on your terms.

If you’re thinking of making a change, graduate. Put your affairs in order. Say I love you to your family and friends. Then go. Run! Sprint towards your new reality. There will never be a perfect time to leave. The time you leave will be perfect.