Facing My Fears and Moving Abroad

JUNE 4, 2012

This is the story of one of the bravest quarterlettes we know, Suzanne.  She stepped boldly outside her comfort zone to take a job in London.  Equally as brave – she agreed to write about the experience.  This is the first in a series of stories from Suzanne about her life-changing adventure.

Decisions, Decisions.

My friends ask me all the time what made me finally decide to leave the life I knew in Philly behind and move to London.  The simple answer is my gut, period. I finally learned to trust it and everything in me told me to go for it. However, my decision making would not have been as easy if I hadn’t gone through another similar but more difficult decision when I was asked to move to Copenhagen for work a few months prior.

Deciding whether to move to Copenhagen was one of the scariest and most difficult decisions I ever had to make. I learned A LOT about myself through that decision making process, but it also changed my outlook on life in a big way.  It shocked the hell out of me actually.

On paper, the move was a no-brainer. I had imagined myself living and working abroad for so long, and this was my chance.  But, for some reason I was hesitant. I kept thinking it was because I didn’t love dark, dreary Copenhagen.  Or maybe it wasn’t the right time in my life. I debated it for a full month before finally turning down the position.

The day I turned it down I had a panic attack, fearing that I was ruining my life by not taking a risk. I was afraid I was turning into my mother, who wouldn’t take chances because she was so afraid of change. My mother had passed away four years earlier, and although I idolize her, I also knew she would want me to live my life and make different decisions than she did.

I panicked because everything I thought I knew about myself and what I wanted was brought into question in that month leading up to the Copenhagen decision.  I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life afraid of my own shadow. How was I ever going to get married or have kids? Both are life-altering experiences that I want, and much more dramatic than moving to another country.

Following that, I poured myself into therapy and self-discovery. I refused to believe I was that person or would become that person. I eventually recovered, broke up with my boyfriend and focused on being single, my friendships, and finding what would make me happy. It was a transition phase.

Nothing in my life had gone as planned or worked out like I had wanted. I was in my late 20’s, single, career focused, but unhappy. What was I doing wrong? I watched all my friends get engaged, then married, then pregnant. I felt very independent, but also like a kid! I didn’t want any of those things yet, but something was definitely missing. So I finally got over myself and made a decision. I was done with Philadelphia and I needed a change., so I decided to move to New York to be closer to my two best girlfriends, accelerate my career, enjoy NYC life for a year or two, and most importantly – figure shit out.

Within a month of making that decision, London fell into my lap. This time, it took me one weekend to decide to go, and there wasn’t one moment of hesitation. I immediately went out and bought travel books, started making a list of everything I needed to do before moving, and a list of all the places I wanted to travel. I went into work that Monday and signed the offer letter. Two months later, I was on a flight with two suitcases, three boxes and myself. Now I’m the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.  I realized that even if you get what you think you want, it’s not always right, and you should trust your gut and hold out for what feels perfect.





  • HollyColleen 5 years ago

    So whaat was it that clicked with London? Was it having resolved those outstanding issues first, or just a more attractive/easier to deal with prospect?

    Would love to hear about your job and where you’re living. It’s great to hear an American’s (assuming you are American?) perrspective on my great city!

  • Sepi 5 years ago

    Thank you for this. I’d love to hear more about what it is about London that made you certain about your decision. I grew up in Germany (11 yrs) but have been in the states for 15 yrs. There are parts of Germany that are pulling me back strongly, but I have serious fears: if I don’t like my job or miss my parents, how will I cope after having given up everything? I’m in my late 20s as well and I’m exactly where you were in terms of feeling like a child and that something is missing, that I know would not change unless I made a serious bold move.