I was standing in an airplane aisle, with a backpack on my back, and suddenly panic set in. I thought, “What the hell am I doing?! I can’t do this! What on earth was I thinking?!”
I turned to exit the plane. I saw a stream of people headed toward me up the narrow aisle as they boarded the plane and found their seats. To exit, I’d have to squeeze through the line to get off, and face my friends who supported me on this excursion.
The excitement for this moment had built for months. Friends helped me plan, pack my apartment up in storage, and bid me farewell at my job. That I'd quit. To take this dream trip.
My resolve - or my pride - kept me from reversing course and exiting that plane.
So I sat.
Before this, I'd always wanted to travel the world to far away exotic lands. But I didn’t know that I could actually DO it. People didn’t do that. Or so I thought until I met someone in college who had. Tom had backpacked India for several months. When I asked him how he'd managed to do something so impossible, he said simply, “I bought a plane ticket and a guide book.”
What?! This was my lifelong dream and that’s all it took?!
“What about money?” I asked.
“You can travel India pretty cheap”, he said. I was young and my standards were low. I could do this without the fancy hotels and high-end restaurants.
I mentally went though the math and realized that I could actually do this. All I needed was someone to explain to me that I could.
I was young and single with no kids, an entry-level job, and an apartment. Yes, this was the time to do it.
I saved my money over the next few months, and bought my backpack and guidebook.
Finally the big day arrived. My friend took me to the airport for my three-month India backpacking adventure. I said goodbye, boarded the plane, and then had a mini panic attack. But since my pride won out, I pulled it together, found my seat, and sat.
That 3-month trip turned into almost six months abroad. I met Mother Teresa, trekked the Himalayas, rode camels in the desert, taught English to a Tibetan Buddhist monk, traveled through the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield, and met amazing people. Some of them are still friends today.
I’ve gone on to have many more adventures. Sometimes with my family along, sometimes solo. But it took that first one to show me I could do it. And I didn’t even realize I could until someone told me I could.
But I didn’t NEED permission.
Too often we aren't aware that we can just go do that thing we dream of but think isn't possible. Either because we don't know how or we think we need permission.
You don't need permission. And you can find the information on how. And if your dream is huge, start with a small piece of it. Take baby steps. But start.
Let this be your inspiration. Your permission to yourself to go follow your dream.
You already know what it is.
Now go do it.