It’s finally here. The day has come, and I’m so nervous
No, not my wedding day. That was last weekend. And while that was amazing and incredible and well worth 18 stressful months of planning, I wasn’t nervous at all. What’s there to be nervous about? Stressed, sure, but not nervous.
No, this is far more nerve wracking. Today is the day I quit my job to go on a year long travel adventure.
Today is the day it finally becomes “real,” this decision I have made to give up a comfortable life, with a job I enjoy, friends I love, and a tiny little treehouse apartment that I adore – all to throw caution to the wind and go travel for over a year. With no income. With no “home” to speak of, or come back to. No job lined up. No “next steps” clearly defined. Just travel.
Is this the opposite of practical? Have I given in to my wanderlust?
|I collect postcards wherever I go. I have a postcard wall in my apartment, and a mini postcard cubicle wall at my desk to keep me motivated. Plus, there’s no window within sight of my seat, so these help me remember what “outside” looks like.|
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot. I asked myself the day I booked our one way plane tickets to Cartegena, heart pounding as I clicked through the JetBlue website. But I thought, I can always change my mind, if I want. I asked myself again as I booked more and more hostels – but I can always cancel them, if I want. I asked myself when I bought the travel insurance to cover our trip (VERY practical of me, of course) and I’m pretty sure that was non refundable. But somehow this was the Big One. Telling my boss, who I respect and really like, that I am quitting the job she essentially created for me, terrifies me more than this trip does.
Sometimes I have moments where I’m scared to go on this crazy adventure. I look around our cozy little apartment, where we have made a cozy little home (I’m not exaggerating on the “cozy little” part, it’s freaking teeny) and think, am I crazy to be giving all of this up? To give up coming home from work, putting on my sweatpants, sitting on the couch, watching Netflix, and eating a delicious meal that my husband cooked for me? That’s the dream, right there. Am I crazy to be giving up a job that I actually enjoy, that pays me enough to live a comfortable life – enough to save for this trip for both my husband and I? Am I crazy to say goodbye to all of our friends here, whose relationships I’ve been growing over the past 4 years living in the Bay Area? And to leave behind my husband’s family, who live a few hours away? Am I crazy to give up my spot in the Bay Area, the most expensive area in the country, where I managed to finagle a rent that is actually affordable, and am located within 2 hours from every kind of environment imaginable, with unending adventures and easily accessible trips to take, right here in Northern California? Am I crazy to ask my husband to give up his newfound passion for teaching urban high schoolers at an amazing school to come with me on a really long vacation? I’m a little bit crazy, right?
|Look, I have space to turn around! And a counter! Things could be way worse.|
Sometimes these doubts keep me up at night, imagining all the things that could go wrong, all the mistakes I could be making, all of the privileges I am throwing away – doubts turn into worry, worry turns into guilt. Will I be able to find a job when we get back? Will I ever earn this much money again? What kind of first world, financially privileged person gives up a good job like this? Am I abusing the privileges I have been given in life? Am I forcing my husband to turn down his dream job? Will we ever be able to come back to the Bay Area? Will we ever be happy with our “normal” lives again, the way we are now?
My other desk motivation is this amazing picture of my grandmother. She’s 77 in this photo, hiking around Lake Louise in Canada. Today she’s 90 years old. Age may finally be catching up with her a bit, but she’s still a complete badass. I inherited 100% of her travel bug, 20% of her awesomeness, and I’m hoping for some of her old-age health and that sweet un-dyed thick brown hair too.
But part of being practical means weighing risk and reward. The biggest risk would be to miss this little opportunity of time that we have right now: newly married, young(ish), in good health, no kids, no car, no mortgage, few belongings, not much tying is down …. this is the best time for us to travel. The big timeline we are keeping in mind is kids: I’m 26, so I have plenty of time, but I want to spend a few years travelling, my husband and I both want a masters degree (well, he does, I’m considering it), and then we need to be stable and settled before we take the plunge and lock ourselves in for the next 18 years. By my calculations, that means I need to travel RIGHT NOW or risk an expensive and difficult pregnancy in my mid-late 30s.
The reward: doing something I’ve dreamed of for years, something my husband and I both had on our respective “let’s do this!” lists, but which would be so, so easy to turn into “I wish we would have done this when we could” when we’re old, in poor health, making far less money, or otherwise unable to take off and go travel for a long period of time. I’m going to be checking so many items off my bucket list in one fell swoop: Macchu Picchu, Patagonia, the Appalachian Trail, 7 countries… that’s a lot of reward.
|This is the face of someone who’s quitting!|
So I know what I am doing is what’s right for us, right now. All those doubts will have to be quieted for a little while. Because after I quit, there is no going back. There’s only packing up our stuff, moving it to storage while we travel, and then … taking a deep breath, and diving in.