Flash back to the spring of 2015 and you’d see a very different version of the woman writing this essay now. Life was not going according to plan and I had somehow fallen into a deep rut of routine I couldn’t seem to get out of. Funny how that happens when we least expect it. Despite my dreams of moving to some other city in some other state, I was stuck in the same town and working a job I didn’t like. It seemed practical to stick around and flesh out my resume in a familiar place. Instead, my dreams of moving away and becoming the editor and writer I so desperately wanted to be turned into the mundane clockwork of get up, go to work, come home, and repeat.
I can remember vividly the feeling of dread that would rush over me the moment my alarm clock went off. I’d reluctantly get out of bed, motivated only by the promise of coffee and my dog’s clumsy morning greetings. All of this was followed by various pep talks in the mirror just to get myself out of the door. Each day began to run together, and, to put it simply, I was bored with my life. Repeat this scenario enough and you begin to lose sight of what little light you have left. I needed change, and I needed it fast.
Then came the day I decided to remove my desire to attend graduate school from the back burner. Because of my love for books, my mother had always suggested I go into publishing. A tear-filled phone call to her after a particularly rough day at work sparked this suggestion again, and I didn’t hesitate to listen. I began looking for graduate schools and publishing programs the next day. This might seem like a simple step to take, but I morphed it into a leap. I not only applied to graduate school, but I applied to graduate school in a different country. Scotland, to be exact. That choice led to a lot of questions. So many people have asked me why I chose the University of Stirling and I never had more of an answer than, “It just felt right.”
When September came around that year, I found myself boarding a plane and moving to place far from any friends or family. The realization that I was completely on my own didn’t hit until halfway through my flight from Lubbock to my first layover in Dallas. At first a heavy feeling of dread seemed to drop to the pit of my stomach, but the more I thought about the new life and opportunities I would gain, the more liberated I felt. I knew then, sitting high in the clouds, that this is what I had been yearning for. Reminding myself of that ignited a newfound excitement within me and propelled me into one of the best years of my life.
My decision to obtain a MLitt in Publishing Studies not only strengthened my love of books, but the program itself introduced me to a group of women who would become some of my closest friends. There are seven of us: Izzie, who is an excellent baker; Barbara, who loves music; Emma, who creates beautiful works of art; Lotte, who never passes up adventure; Steph, who is a comic book expert; Liz, who is as outspoken as she is funny, and myself, who is grateful for them all. From taking care of one another when we were ill to sharing laughter over meals in Izzie’s flat to winning a number of Monday night pub quizzes as Barbara and the Backup Babes, our friendship became one that will withstand the test of time. And to think it all began with a simple trip to the pub after a long day of classes.
As for Scotland itself, it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Greenery spans for as far as the eye can see and the mountains will take your breath away. Sunny days are often rare, but you learn to appreciate them even more. However, the rain has its own beauty, unless you find yourself caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Even with its abundant physical beauty, it’s the people who make Scotland what it is. From the moment I arrived, I felt like I was home. I felt welcomed and I felt like I belonged there. Essentially, Scotland was the missing piece to my puzzle.
If I had it my way, I would’ve remained in Scotland much longer, but work visas are hard to come by, especially in the publishing industry. When I completed my studies at the end of August 2016, it was time for me to return to Texas. I’d be a liar if I said leaving Scotland wasn’t one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life. While it’s always difficult to leave behind a place you love and the people you love, this felt different. I was leaving the place that helped me regain my sense of purpose, and that’s something very difficult to let go of.
Returning to my old life, as it were, has been an experience in itself. After sending multitudes of applications, I began working as a senior editor at a university in November 2016, which is a great place to start as I move forward with my publishing career. While I’m not living in a place I particularly want to be, the insight I gained from my time away has helped me stay focused on the positives instead of the negatives. Instead of allowing myself to become subject to routine, I make myself see it as sitting on a launching pad in preparation for my next adventure.
Despite the unexpected outcomes since my return, I’ll always be grateful that I made the decision to take a leap of faith. Had I remained in my rut, I would have denied myself this amazing experience. Not only did I gain a master’s degree, but I gained new friendships, fond memories to look back on, and a clearer direction for my life. I would love to return to Scotland one day, but, until then, I have a newfound belief in myself. I know I’m capable of chasing after what I want and there’s nothing that can stop me; not even the nastiest of ruts.
Hannah Fields is a writer and editor by profession and a coffee junkie by choice. When she isn’t seeking out her next adventure, she is an avid reader, music enthusiast, and part-time poet. You can join her on her blog, Instagram, and Twitter.