USA is the perfect place for me…

June 10, 2013

Our new columnist Emma-Kate Lidbury has no regrets about leaving the UK – except the lack of Percy Pigs…
As the plane took off from Heathrow I took a sharp intake of breath, closed my eyes and felt my stomach somersault. I’m no nervous flier, so the stomach gymnastics couldn’t be attributed to any anxiety about take-off. No, I knew exactly what was going on here. I’d just left behind the oh-so-comfortable life I knew and was California-bound. I’d said teary goodbyes to my family and was trying – and failing – to get my head around the last phrase I’d heard my five-year-old nephew say to me: “See you in half a year, Auntie EK!”

I’d done it. After weeks of wondering whether it might be the right thing for me, I’d set about starting a new life in Santa Monica. Don’t get me wrong – moving to a place where the sun shines constantly, the beaches are heaven and everyone looks like they’ve walked off the set of Baywatch isn’t exactly a tough move. But diving into the unknown elicits fear and trepidation in all of us.
My transatlantic move was a bold yet calculated one that my coach Matt Dixon and I hoped would yield greater career opportunities. Up until this point, I’d been a successful triathlete, a good triathlete. But I didn’t want to be good – I wanted to be great, and Matt believed, like me, that in the right environment I could achieve exactly that. Training alone in less than triathlete-friendly climes had stunted my development. If I wanted something more, it was time to go and find it.
I left the UK on January 13 this year with no way of knowing whether it would work out for the best. When faced with a tough decision, it’s usually best to rely on your gut and, despite the dancing my insides were doing as we took off that day, I knew deep down that this was the right thing for me. This was what I wanted – no, needed – to do. Less than 48 hours later, I was driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, having just done one of my first swim workouts. As the sun beat down over the ocean, I laughed aloud that I’d ever felt those nerves. I already knew I’d made the right move. I already knew this was the perfect place, not just for me as an athlete but for me as a person.
From that day forward, I settled in so ridiculously quickly that I found myself referring to “home” as Santa Monica and never really knowing how to refer to the tiny Cotswold town in which I grew up. It was odd to return to the UK recently and feel like it was a foreign place. I wondered if I’d landed in Legoland. Everything was tiny, the M4 seemed like it was missing a few lanes and why oh why were we driving on the wrong side of the road?
Of course, it was a great treat to have roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, fish and chips, Marmite and my beloved Percy Pigs from Marks & Spencer (just don’t tell Matt or my nutritionist!), and I returned to the US with a suitcase full of the latter two. It was only then that I realised it: home for me, right now, is most definitely here in Santa Monica.
I’ll always be a Brit, through and through, but the move I made back in January is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. Regardless of what I achieve in triathlon from this point forward, I’ll know that I’ve done everything possible to set myself up for success. And that, well… that just feels good.

Taken from, 06 Oct 2013

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