By Cassidy Krygger
The United Kingdom has always held a certain magic for me, a girl growing up in Australia looks afar. So far away, the magical land of England almost seemed untouchable. Especially given that I was a girl who lived with a debilitating anxiety disorder since the age of 12. But last November, the impossible became possible. I stepped on English soil for the first time. All by myself.
My Social Anxiety Disorder was pretty intense. I was diagnosed right after I graduated from Primary School and was unable to attend mainstream High School.
Eccentric teenage years were spent soaking anything up to do with history and reading; I loved it! I was obsessed with the royal family and was in love with the idea of London. All the books I read seemed to be set there, and of course, it was home to the British Royal Family. It was a dream that deep down I wanted so much to experience.
But for a girl who couldn’t leave the house without her Mum at 16 years of age or even answer the phone, that dream seemed pretty impossible.
The road to recovery was long and hard and filled with many moments of amazing triumphs and frightening setbacks. But slowly I was beginning to live a life and being able to cope with my anxiety.
I’d been talking to my friend about going to London for over a year, but we could never get the dates right. In May 2017, I got fed up. I decided that I wanted to go on my terms and I booked a trip to the UK.
Of course, I was freaking out.
As the November date loomed closer, I thought of a million and one ways to get out of it. My most creative idea was the good old fashioned fall and leg break trick right before I left. I wouldn’t be able to go, and I might get the money back from insurance, it was a win-win solution!
Panic attacks ensued and I was sure something horrific was going to happen to me overseas. I kept thinking ‘How silly am I to think I would be able to travel to a country I had never been to before all by myself?’ These thoughts kept playing over and over in my mind, but I pushed through.
Finally, the big day arrived, dread-filled would be the way to describe it.
I am pretty stubborn, and I didn’t want to waste all that money I had already spent on the trip. Something inside me just knew I had to go. This was my motivator.
The flight was long but nowhere near as scary as I thought. People are kind, especially when you are a solo female traveler. But I was pleasantly surprised to see I wasn’t the only one. Young women taking on the world filled the flight. It was awesome.
As the flight descended into a gloomy and cold London evening, the pilot announced our arrival with ‘Welcome to London’ over the speaker. It was and will always be one of the most defining moments of my life.
I couldn’t believe it.
Everything I fought for, everything I went through, from the days thinking I wouldn’t survive the black beast that is anxiety, had finally paid off. I was actually in London… the magical city. A real-life Disneyland. I couldn’t wait to explore.
London was everything I expected and more. I saw Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and The Tower of London (I told you I was a royal nut!). I went up to Yorkshire and saw the home of my favorite writer, Emily Bronte.
London culture filled and exciting. Every train station had a bookshop, and every building was bursting with history. I caught the tube everywhere and felt like a real Londoner.
I could totally be free. I felt like I was completely alone in the world and yet I was in one of the busiest cities. I found myself so quickly when there was no one else to talk with.
I got to know myself in a way I had never been able to before, and I realized that I am pretty impressive and strong. It was the best week of my life.
I believe that if you are lucky enough to be able to do it, that every young person should travel by themselves somewhere.
I totally had to rely on myself. There was literally no one else to lean on for support. And I had to grow up super quickly.
It could be the most terrifying thing you will ever push yourself to do. But it will also be the most liberating. I promise you’ll come back a more grounded, mature and all-round better person. You will find yourself in ways you have never encountered yourself before.
I came home a different person. Things that worried me don’t worry me anymore. I found new parts myself. Great parts. I think that is the most awesome thing you can do.
Bio: Cassidy is a social media influencer, with her Instagram account one of Australia’s most popular! You will find Cass taking on the world one day at a time as authentically as possible. Her love of stories, in particular Bronte has her head in a book at some stage during the day and she has a love for the written world that shines through in her work. She is an advocate for Young people finding their inner strength and pushing through what can be a difficult world to be in. She has triumphed.