I look up at the clock…it’s nearly 4:00 p.m. I have only a few more hours until I need to have my life packed into a suitcase and a backpack. I’m not panicking. I’ve been to Costa Rica before. I don’t have the nervous jitters that I had on my first trip flying south. That was two years ago, when I was a solo traveler embarking on the unknown.
Now, I’ve learned how to go with the flow once I’m in a foreign country. The problem, however, is I don’t know how to do that in my own country. The week leading up to my flight has been a dizzying spell of ups and downs. Visiting friends and family, packing, shopping AND working have compounded into immense stress and many sleepless nights.
A Planner By Birth
Many of you probably think it’s somewhat ridiculous that I would be so up in arms over my upcoming trip. Many travelers are spontaneous adventurers. You don’t know where you’re going to dine on any given day, far less where you’ll be staying for the night. I admire you. I strive to be more like you. But right now, I’m not.
I’m a planner through and through. I like to book my flight and my accommodations at least a month in advance. Security suits me. This doesn’t mean plans don’t fall through. They have in the past. I’m learning to become much more flexible when the unexpected happens.
But, as before, I planned for this trip. Flight was booked two months in advance. Apartment about a month and a half. Bulk quantities of prescriptions and contact lenses were purchased 3-4 weeks before departure. I was on top of things. It felt good to check off items on my “to do” list. I even alerted my employer of my upcoming plans at the beginning of the month.
But that was weeks ago.
One week to go and my blood pressure started to climb. My employer – with whom I work with on a contract basis – starting panicking as my departure date neared. I, in turn, started to freak out. Leading up to my leave, they were determined to pile as much work onto my plate as possible.
Normally, I would have worked a few extra hours on the weekends to keep up with the work. However, I had made other plans. I was going to visit some friends that weekend. Work would simply have to wait until Monday.
Monday came and went. I was surprisingly productive. The week went by in a blur and I was able to keep pace with all of the last-minute projects that were thrown at me. I could breathe a little better.
Kill Two Birds…
With work hassles behind me, I could now see the light at the end of the tunel. But I still couldn’t relax. One more four-hour drive to go watch my niece and nephew play soccer. It was a short one-night stay. But I decided to try and make the most of it by going to a nearby mall to finish up my very last-minute shopping. Two hours later I left with one item. I wasn’t successful.
Saturday night I arrived home. NOW, my whirlwind week had finally come to an end. No more driving, no more working (for now) and no more tensed shoulders. Packing would have to wait until Sunday…the day before my flight.
It’ll Get Done…Eventually
So, here I sit. It’s finally Sunday. I’m writing this post and watching some college basketball. Time continues to pass and I still haven’t finished packing. I’m not too worried, though. I think all of my stress and irritability came out in full force earlier in the week.
I’m sure just as my flight is taking off tomorrow I’ll remember I forgot to pack something. Maybe I’ll need it, maybe not. But right now, I’m in beach mode. Cool, calm and collected. Surprising, right?
I’ve realized that I can tell myself not to stress and not to worry, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. It’s the way I’m wired to work. Everyone handles pressure differently. If you are a planner like me, here are my suggestions:
- Find your stress reliever – Zumba kept me sane this week. Three days of booty shaking allowed me to laugh at myself and completely forget all of my work obligations for one hour. Do something that relaxes you and gets your mind off the stress inducer.
- Realize the rest of the world DOESN’T plan – My employer had more than enough notice to prepare for my leave. Was the work spread out over the past four weeks? NO! Instead it was all dumped on me in the last week. Most people don’t plan ahead. They work in emergency mode. Understand that even if YOU plan ahead, others may not.
- Stand Your Ground – There were moments during the week when I thought about canceling my weekend plans or skipping my morning Zumba class. But I didn’t. The last-minute madness was not my doing. If it’s not a life or death situation, then it will eventually get done.
Preparing, packing, panicking…it’s all part of the journey. Sometimes, in fact, it’s the most exciting part. As the saying goes, “just roll with the punches,” you’ll be better off if you do!