54 days until I quit my very comfortable job, drive half way across the United States, drop off everything I own, put on a 40L backpack, and head to South America.
It was September 9, 2017 when I found myself on a business trip in Poland. It had been a whirlwind of a year. At that point, I had traveled quite a bit for quick trips through Europe and Asia. On that particular trip, I was with my manager and a couple of regional coworkers. We met at a restaurant for lunch, and a former coworker and friend also had joined. She was a little over a year into a Round the World (RTW) trip. I used to sit two seats down from her in the office. I recalled the first time she told me she was quitting her job to travel. She had a spirit about her I rarely, if ever, had seen. I remember being quite upset when she said she was leaving, but I admired her bravery. Years later, it was at that lunch in a hipster diner in Śródmieście, Warsaw that she stepped back into our lives with a backpack and a calm, reflective, worldly demeanor in tow. We spent a lovely few hours catching up before making our way to the airport, stopping at a fruit stand along the way. I remember sitting in the back seat of the taxi and I asked my friend a question, “When was the last time you checked an email?” She could not recall, maybe a few days prior? A week? I envisioned what that email might have looked like. A flight confirmation or an email to a friend met in passing. Whatever it was, I had imagined it was far from the corporate jargon of reports, presentations, meeting invites, company mailers. At that particular point in my life, I was BURNT OUT. I had burnt both ends of the stick for far too long, and although I was living the dream of traveling and meeting my targets, I wasn’t quite ready to admit to myself that I felt unfulfilled and honestly, just tired. I fit in as much work and fun as I could, but I was running from my own problems and rather than face them, I threw myself into my work with everything I had. The taxi arrived at Warsaw Modlin Airport, we parted ways. I made my way to the gate, destination Lisbon. The flight was delayed which was fine. I sat with pen and paper in hand ready to free-write, but found myself in a complete trance. In those moments, a somber heaviness began to descend. I knew what came next. I was going to travel. Trade in my suit jacket and airport friendly heals for a moisture wicking top and Teva sandals. I messaged my friend… how much does it cost? She gave me a number. Seemed outrageous, and I was in a little credit card debt at the time. I started budgeting. At first I thought I could save enough in a year. A year turned into two, but here we are… 54 days away – 1 full time job and 2 side hustles later. I am so thankful for the two years I have had to save. It has given me the time to build relationships, work on those things from which I was running; I even found a church home. I’m going to miss this place. As much as I am looking forward to this experience, change puts me on edge. I turned 30 a few weeks ago, a few grey hairs popping up… YOLO right?! If not now, when… The only way I can describe it is it feels like I just bought a ticket to go sky diving… I’m in the harness and I can see people falling out of the sky, and I know how incredible and how scary and thrilling that experience is going to be. But first, I have to board the plane, get strapped in, walk to the edge, close my eyes, and JUMP.
But right now. I’m still just looking up, and while I’m down here on the ground, I’m going to see my family, hang out with my friends, speak in a language I understand, wake up in my comfortable bed with my all of my collection of things, and schedules, and consistencies… and I’m just going to appreciate today.