As I wait for my mini vanilla blizzard with cookie dough, I scan the seating area. We’ve made a DQ pit stop in Middle-of-Nowhere, Idaho, where the radio stations range from Christian Rock to Country, and potatoes outnumber the populations of people. My gaze stops on an elderly man, silently sitting at a table with a woman who I presume to be his wife. He’s wearing a hat atop his bald head that reads, “I used to be a fun guy once…”
I get it. Things happen in life that have the ability to change you from a spunky kid to a scowling adult. Heading back to the Prius, though, I can’t help but be troubled.
Last week, we left. Purged and packed all our worldly possessions, said our goodbyes, and just left. The responses we got from various friends, family, and strangers were mixed. Some thought that what we were doing was crazy cool, while others thought it was just plain ol’ crazy. The one saying that was guaranteed to come out of every person’s mouth, regardless of their personal opinion, was, “Well. Now’s the time to do it, because you’ll never get an opportunity like this again.” This became such an engrained phrase, that I even found myself saying it when presenting my plans to those interested.
But every time I said it, I felt like a fraud. Like I was rehearsing something that was expected and required of me, rather than what I truly believed. Because what I truly believe is that this is not the only time I’ll get to do this. What I truly believe is that I am in control of my own happiness. I refuse to become a person that accepts a fate that ends in me wearing a baseball cap that expresses a yearning for the person I used to be.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Here’s another naïve millennial who is going to talk about how her generation is different than all the rest. On the contrary, the intention of this post is not a generational commentary. In fact, this is quite the opposite. This is a commentary on self-awareness, on self-exploration, on self-loving, regardless of one’s assigned generation.
Doing something – anything – that you believe will make you a better and happier human being, is worth the jump. Having people tell me that what I am doing is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” isn’t encouraging, it’s terrifying. It makes me feel as though I am 90 years old and fulfilling my last wish, since I won’t be getting any more.
I made this huge transition because I was worn out and unhappy with multiple aspects of my life on the East Coast. While those that love me can be frustrated with my tendency to tell them what I am doing, rather than ask permission, independence and taking responsibility for myself are qualities that I am proud to have. Taking risks for the sake of your sanity and wellbeing should not be considered “once-in-a-lifetime.” They should be an integral and reoccurring part of your lifetime.
So book that plane ticket. Climb that mountain. Heck, pack up a Prius and drive across the country. As Noble Prize in Literature recipient, André Gide, once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Introducing Julia Abbiss
Julia is possibly the best definition of a ‘world citizen’ that there is. She was born in England, raised in New Jersey, educated in Rhode Island, and has travelled just about everywhere else in the world. After recently returning from Kathmandu, she road tripped across the US to begin a new chapter of her life in New Mexico, where she intends to “get back in touch with nature, eat more burritos than any person should, and escape New England winters”. Her studies and work have focused on environmental sustainability and eco-tourism and she is set to obtain a masters in Non-Profit Management this year. As our newest contributor Julia will be sharing stories from her travels and introducing some of the inspiring people and beautiful places she has encountered along the way.
Cover photo credit: A traditional Pow Wow in New Mexico – http://www.theblondecoyote.com