Surfing the waves of change…in my mind or in real life?

I recently moved to a new country and learned that moving abroad gives you endless opportunities to practice Flexible Mind VARIEs. Flexible Mind VARIEs is probably my favourite skill, because engaging in novel behaviour is fun, exciting, scary, thrilling and every other interesting adjective. Flexible Mind VARIEs is about taking risks and trying new things:

V – verify one’s willingness to experience something new.

A – check the accuracy of hesitancy, aversion or avoidance.

R – Relinquish compulsive planning, rehearsal or preparation.

I – activate one’s social safety system and then initiate new behaviour.

E – non-judgmentally evaluate the outcome.

As an OC human, I never thought I’d fall in love with traveling. For a long time, I valued familiarity over novelty, perfection over vulnerability, and routine over uncertainty. However, last May, I had the opportunity of a lifetime, and the result was enough motivation to push myself, not only out of my comfort zone, but also the time zone I had lived in for most of my life.

I was chosen to present at an international conference, and even though I was terrified, I had to say yes. After all, how could I say no to a fully funded, guilt free trip to Europe? I had never been there, and I was looking forward to being in another country. My Flexible Mind was in heaven, but my sneaky, not-so-helpful OC tendencies just wanted the highlight on my CV.

For 10 days, I walked around historical buildings, ate delicious foods, visited libraries and cathedrals, consumed too much Belgian chocolate, met people from around the world, and enjoyed being present in the moment.

When I returned home, I called my parents and told them I had made a decision: I was moving abroad. If they didn’t like it, I didn’t want to hear about it.

Seven months later, and fresh out of university, I landed in the UK. Since then, I’ve been enjoying life in a way I have never before. Now, I practice Flexible Mind VARIEs every day. Sometimes by choice, sometimes it happens and I have to roll with it.

When I first started practicing Flexible Mind VARIEs, I chose low-risk novel behaviours, like ordering a different sandwich rather than my usual one, walking a different path to work, and using different coloured pens. Sometimes I disliked the outcomes, but they didn’t have long-term effects, or impacted me emotionally for more than a few minutes.

These days, however, I practice Flexible Mind VARIEs, on a whole new level. When it comes to verifying one’s willingness, I have no problem. In fact, I seek out new opportunities. Sometimes I feel a bit hesitant, but it’s more about excitement versus anxiety. The compulsive planning is interesting, and at times it is needed, like when I have to book flights in advance to get better prices. However, there are so many places to explore, I don’t mind not knowing the full itinerary. In fact, the best part of traveling isn’t the attractions, monuments, or museums. For me, it’s wandering around making use of my five senses.

Perfectionist, disciplined and conscientious little me would have never believed that one day, she would sign up for a dating event in a new city at the last minute, and have enough courage to land on the dance floor surrounded by strangers.

Shy, introverted, and cautious little me would have never believed that one day, she would grow up and be thrilled at the idea of learning how to surf near a beautiful English beach.

Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser), I have the chance to honour the function of my OC tendencies, while insisting that they go take a well-deserved nap beside a crystal-clear Italian lake – the heavenly destination of my upcoming vacation. 😉


Daphnée is currently passionate about supporting adolescent girls in a school setting, traveling to European countries, and eating all shapes of pasta. When she is not reading the RO DBT manual (for the second time), she enjoys fiction novels, listening to Taylor Swift, and petting Golden Retrievers.