About halfway through college, I realized I didn’t want to follow a traditional life path.
My boyfriend at the time and I had dreams of travelling the world full-time and working remotely. My first instinct was, “I should just drop out right now”, however I mentally shushed my internal desire to do something different and here I am two years later, graduated.
While I don’t regret finishing college, on some level I thought my spontaneous desire to break free of society’s norms was a phase, that the feelings would come and go and I would be happy I stuck it out until graduation. But now my desire to do something different has only grown stronger.
My first plan in college, after convincing myself not to drop out, was to apply for remote-only jobs after graduation and travel the world with my (now ex-) boyfriend. Even though I was taking a risk by stepping off the career-building ladder, it was also a “safe” option because I wasn’t taking the risk alone. After my boyfriend and I broke up, I needed a new plan. Hesitant to head out alone, I gave myself five years to recruit as many chill, adventurous friends as I could get to come with me. Because while the digital nomad lifestyle strikes me as deeply freeing, it’s also lonely. 100% of the people I follow with that type of lifestyle have expressed how profoundly lonely it can be at times. As someone who relies heavily on my grounding friendships, I was scared of leaving without any long-term friends along for the ride.
However, since then, my desire to break free has not diminished at all and has actually grown much stronger. I started questioning the merit of traditional “success”, but I appeased myself by saying I would leave for the lifestyle I always wanted in 2 years instead of 5 since I have already found a surprising number of friends open to a more liberated lifestyle. I thought two years would be enough time for everyone to save up some money and get their lives in order before our departure. Additionally, because of the state of the world right now, it felt like WAITING was necessary.
Not waiting to start living is one of my guiding principles and yet my entire life plan, all of my life plans, were centered around waiting. They also relied on other people. Now there’s nothing wrong with depending on other people, but one thing I don’t want to depend on external situations for is my own happiness.
This was a shocking revelation to me and I didn’t even realize it on my own. I was discussing some ideas for YouTube with my brother when he asked me why I hadn’t started my “adventure” channel yet. My brother knows that I love travelling and exploring and wanted to start a channel based on those interests. My answer to him was something along the lines of “I’m waiting to do something cool.” I’m WAITING. How did I not see it before?
This conversation was a huge wake-up call for me. I needed to start living the lifestyle I always dreamt of. As I’ll be working full-time as a software engineer in July, you may think that my job is the main barrier between me and the lifestyle I want. Don’t worry, I used that excuse too. But actually, it’s not.
I’m going to be starting my job remotely, so any travel restrictions are because of the pandemic and not my job. But what about the actual work you may ask? Surprisingly, that is not the issue either. I actually love working. Especially on interesting, challenging problems and my work has plenty of these. In fact, I feel extremely lucky to genuinely enjoy buckling up and grinding on a tough problem. So much so that this is something I would want to be part of my days, even if I completely controlled my own schedule. I’ll admit I have many other issues with working a 9-5 job, but the point is that these aren’t the key issues. I am.
Because one of my day 1 boundaries has always been that I won’t work on weekends. This is partly selfish because I do want to do things with my life outside of work. But also, I know from personal experiences that I am not as productive as I can be when I work every single day. So at this point in my life, I am lucky enough to say: I have my weekends off. Two whole days every single week to adventure and explore as much as I like. And yet I do not. Why? Because I’m WAITING. So what’s the solution? How do I stop waiting?
I need to recognize the advantages of my life today. Because of quarantine and the fact that I am now single, I can’t really hang out with anyone in real life. Now that is not my preferred situation, but there are some advantages. Firstly, although I am trying to stay connected to my friends digitally, it takes less time. There’s no commuting to meet up somewhere and the length of activities is overall shorter now. Secondly, I’m not tied to any home base where my friends are. While there aren’t THAT many places open that I can explore, there are plenty. Thirdly, because I now have the luxury of living in an area with a much lower cost-of-living than where my work is located, I can save up for adventures. All of this is pretty awesome and leads me to one conclusion.
I need to stop making excuses and start finding the adventure in every day. Because it’s there, but only for people willing to look for it.