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I Don’t Want to Go, But I Can’t Wait to Get There

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“You can want one thing and have a secret wish for its opposite.” ―Deb Caletti, The Six Rules of Maybe

Tonight I leave on an 8 PM flight for a six-day trip from Boston, Massachusetts, to Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a 10-hour flight—almost 5,000 miles—and when I say it’s a world away I mean it both literally and figuratively. I woke up uncharacteristically early this morning, pre-dawn, and as the sun broke over the trees and slowly swabbed the sky from pink to red to blue, I thought, “I don’t want to go.”

And then, almost immediately, I thought, “But I can’t wait to get there.”

That doesn’t make sense, does it? Do I want to go, or don’t I want to go? Does the idea of traveling to a place I’ve never experienced before excite me, or does it fill me to the brim with fear?

When I was a child, I was afraid of almost everything, but especially anything new. I preferred the preschool carpool I knew over the kindergarten bus I didn’t. I liked the predictability of that carpool: The same driver, the same handful of kids, the same worn leather seat by the window. The day when the big yellow kindergarten bus came rolling down the street toward me, I screamed and bolted for home.

But now that I think of it, I preferred being there—staying at home, in the kitchen with my mother, playing on our worn linoleum—more than anywhere else.

I suppose I could have stayed that way: I could have made a life for myself in my hometown, in the house I grew up in. You hear about people who never leave their houses or venture far from their hometowns: In the news recently was the story of a man who had last left his home 10 years earlier. He’d ballooned to a thousand pounds, had a 6-foot waist circumference, and couldn’t walk.

The problem is that most stories like that include the word “sad” or “horrifying” somewhere in the first paragraph. I might have an inner homebody, but that doesn’t make me an outlier. Because while I prefer to stay in my sanctuary, seeking refuge, I also play host to varying measures of curiosity (about people, and what makes them tick) and desire (to be part of something larger, to try new things, to be successful according to various definitions of the word).

The thing is that Curiosity and Desire can be annoying roommates for my inner Homebody. All Homebody wants to do is boil up some penne and sit on the couch with my girl, my daughter. But Curiosity shows up to crash the party: What would the pasta taste like in a café in Verona? I bet it would be fantastic! And then Desire chimes in: Could I get invited there for an event? Or hey, you know what? Maybe I could combine it with that trip to Munich?

Back to Istanbul. I was invited there a while ago to speak at a marketing conference. At first, it thrilled me. (That was Ego, whom you haven’t met yet. She hardly ever shows up, but sometimes makes a guest appearance.)

Then, Homebody spoke up, “NO.” (Homebody is always the first to speak. In other words, I always tell myself No before I consider the alternatives.) But, ultimately, Curiosity and Desire were the most persuasive: Istanbul is an amazing place, I hear. And: This is a great opportunity to keynote an international event and connect with some smart people in an interesting and new place.

I read a story last night about a lab experiment with a rat. The rat would be willing to scuttle across an electrified plate to access something he deemed irresistible—something akin to rat crack, I suppose. He would tolerate a high degree of discomfort—in his case, volts of electrical shock coursing through his body—to satisfy a perceived need. I guess I, in a way, am that rat. I’ve learned to accommodate these inherent contradictions coexisting within my own skin—and the resulting discomfort.

So do I want to go? Or would I rather stay home?

It seems the only answer is “Yes.”

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18 Responses to I Don’t Want to Go, But I Can’t Wait to Get There

  1. Leigh Durst says:

    BOY can I relate to this. Every time I have to “run the gauntlet” to my destination, in fact. I’m an extroverted home body. Go figure. Thanks for this delicious readin’ morsel and happy travels, Annie! One of my good friends sells Turkish rugs and antiquities and knows the ins and outs of the country well. You are bound meet some beautiful people, see amazing things, eat amazing food and find amazing treasures! It’s Cok Guzel! (Beautiful, if I remember correctly – and not to be mistaken for my Caulking story!) Send pictures!

  2. Tim Washer says:

    comforting to know others have to face their Homebody. have a great trip.

  3. This describes me to a “T.” I’m the biggest homebody on the planet, and face this often. I always want to go … love the adventure and the thrill of new things and new people and all that … but I also always love being home. In fact, often when I get somewhere I have to force myself out of my room, because socializing with lots of people I don’t know is also not my favorite thing. But when you stay in your own little safe cocoon, as we all know, adventure rarely happens. And adventure is part of what makes life worth living. Travel safely my friend, enjoy Turkey and bring home some fabulous stories.

  4. Tinu says:

    Totally understand. I don’t want to go anywhere where there might be…. Other people.I do not, under any circumstances, want to get ready to go out. But once I get there I feel adventurous and free. Even going to the grocery store involves long pep talks. Sofor the past 2 years I have been forcing myself. If I can afford it and my body can take it, I go. Horrifying and fun. Except maybe Nigeria.

    Good luck on your trip! Can’t wait to see pictures.

  5. Katybeth says:

    Wow…Chris Brogan is like a magic (LOL)….just today I said in an e-mail to him (in response to his Sunday newsletter) there is one thing you can do for me—ask Anne Handley to write more blog posts on her personal blog. And here you are. . .YAY. I have the desire to say, “You’ll be fine, good for you for stepping outside that box. The world is a wonderful place. Of-course, I haven’t ventured further than the local Starbucks in a week. NEXT WEEK…tho the post office!!!
    Have a Terrific trip. Turkey is amazing.

  6. Maral Habeshian says:

    Once you hit the road, even airplane food becomes charming! ENJOY the hell out of ISTANBUL and knock ‘em dead with your presentation. LOVE LOVE LOVE U!

  7. David Reich says:

    Beautiful Ann. Have a great trip.

  8. Reading your post I am only in touch with my inner adventurer who is shamelessly envious of your incredible opportunity. From the homebody’s couch, everything “out there” looks incredibly exciting. Only when it becomes a personal reality does the “Oh shit, do I really have to do this?” alternative voice step in…so from the couch, have a glorious, enviable, wild, fun time! Hope to see you on the return to hear your survivor stories.

  9. Jeanine Delay says:

    Great post-thanks for putting it out there! Yes, I love travelling and it always reminds me how much I am used to my routines: my coffee, my music, my snacks, my people around me! Confession: I downloaded Tune In radio on my iPhone so I could listen to Boston radio when I’m out of range! You have skillfully written about the sometimes conflicting feelings we have about change and adventure. Enjoy the trip fully and return to your routine and your people refreshed!

  10. Hi, Ann!
    I’m with Katybeth – so happy to see you here on your personal blog. It’s always such a pleasure. :)

    I completely get this post. I love the idea of travel and adventure. I’m usually pretty thrilled when it’s happening, and I love the coming home part. But … the anticipation, planning, and worry about actually leaving are torture.

    My homebody is a force to be reckoned with. She’s no layabout pushover. She’s militant about enjoying the small pleasures of cocooning at home with a good book, a few seasons of “30 Rock,” my daughter, beau, and two cats. She has the wiles of a sweetly singing siren and isn’t too proud to stoop to fear tactics if that’s what it takes.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t have that many opportunities for travel, so I don’t have to go toe-to-toe with this formidable opponent very often. Still, I’m glad when I can get past her defenses and show her that sometimes getting the hell out of Dodge is a really good thing.

    … and, it always makes coming back home that much sweeter.

    Safe travels! :)

  11. Tobias Schremmer says:

    Great personalization of Homebody, Curiosity and Desire.
    Highly relatable, thanks and safe travels.

  12. Lisa Gerber says:

    Wow, this post evoked several emotions for me, and funny to arrive in the comments and see all the others who can relate.
    I was talked into doing a 16-mile trail run through the Enchantments in the Washington Cascades years ago – and by about 6 miles into the run, I was well behind my friends. They were gone. Out of sight. I was scrambling up a very long, very steep rocky slope, scared to death, wondering if I was even on the trail at this point; and I vividly remember thinking, “why can’t I be content sitting on the couch watching a movie? WHY?”

    We wouldn’t be happy if we just gave in to Homebody, would we? I’ll remember this post – it will help me get through Curiosity and Desire when Homebody is shouting. :) Thank you!!!

  13. Zeynep says:

    Fortunately you came :)) it was a great presentations. Thanks!

  14. Kumar Gauraw says:

    Hello Ann,

    Awesome post. We all love to be within our comfort zone and going to a new place, meeting new people, exploring new things is intimidating for most(myself included).
    However, depending on the priorities, we all make a conscious choice to overcome the challenge and do what is necessary. This is especially true in my case as I personally do not like to travel a lot, but my business demands. So, I pack up and go!

    A great post that everybody can relate to. Thank you for sharing.

    Regards,
    Kumar

  15. I LOVE this. I’ve always said that I love to go but hate to leave. It’s such a fascinating oxymoron, no? When things get difficult during that transition between point A and point B we really have to become conscious of where we focus our emotional energy — on the fear and worry, or the excitement and expansion?

  16. Louise says:

    You only need the courage to go. Glad that you have it.

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