There came a point in the past couple of years that I realized that the life I was living didn’t really feel like much of a life. I believe the exact words I asked myself were, “Is this really it?” ; is this really the general movement of my life? This compounded itself everyday into a new fear for me. A fear that I’d live a life that I would regret on my deathbed. A life that I didn’t fill in every possible meaningful way. It felt… artificial.
At the time of this revelation I was engaged to my first love, drawing on completion of my bachelor’s degree, working a job I hated in a state I hated even more. I tried to convince myself that I was happy. Told myself that once this thing or that thing changed that I’d be even happier. But then I realized that what I really felt, was caged.
With this newfound fear I decided that I wouldn’t give myself any excuses for why I couldn’t change it. No, I wanted to break free. I wanted to feel the deepest emotions of both sides of the spectrum. I wanted to feel triumphant, and also defeated. I wanted to know that every possible idea for where I want to go and do in life, was given fair judgement, credit, and attention. I wanted to tell myself that I’m capable of doing some out-of-the-box, adventurous, and ambitious feats- and then, allow myself to do them. I didn’t want to hold myself back in any possible way.
This required me to make some very drastic changes in my life. Some things required time, patience, focus, and strategy. While others required emotional and psychological courage.
I broke up with my fiancé. Finished my Bachelor’s degree. Quit the job I hated and started doing more internships and work in my field of degree. Then started an extra job. I stashed money away quickly by working ten weeks straight without a single day off and doing 2-3 doubles a week. I paid off as many bills as I could, paid for my car for several months in advance. I started doing things that I felt I had missed out on because of my engagement and lifestyle in the past. This meant going to the beach more, biking a lot, getting back into running because for whatever reason I had stopped while I was in my relationship (something I regret more than anything, and those who know me know how much I love to run). I spent time with friends and rekindled old friendships. I changed everything about my lifestyle in the most beneficial ways.
Realizing that I was still not living where I wanted to, I was still not working where I wanted to, and I still wasn’t allowing myself to take huge leaps and face fears, overcome obstacles, and do things that I dreamt of doing.
So, I decided to take the largest leap into the unknown that I believed would enrich my life in multiple ways… travel. I saved thousands in a relatively short amount of time. I did my research, scavenged for backpacking items, trolled blogs and of course Pinterest. I’ve never traveled outside of the US (unless you count a family cabin in Canada), so naturally I decided to take babysteps by going to Europe for 3 months, alone, as my first travel experience.
It is because of that decision that I have stories to share, pictures to enjoy, memories to last me a lifetime, and an education on life that very few have access to. I gained a life in that decision, and before it all life was an imitation of what it should be. It was a knock-off, the generic and artificial. At least the way I was living it.
The oddest part about it is that I didn’t realize exactly the depth of my unhappiness and dissatisfaction until I realized that there are other ways to live, and that I don’t have to limit myself or think that I can’t change things, because I can. And it was so much easier once I believed that.
You have so much more power and control over your life than you lend to yourself. It’s debilitating, suffocating, and frankly depressing. Big dreams… or even small ones, always come with risks. So if you’re going to achieve any of them you can’t let yourself be complacent. I am where I want to be now, but it’s certainly not where my story ends. No, I’ll continue to be daring and realize that many things I can achieve in my life, and believe me there’s no stopping me once I’m on a path, unless I see another direction I want to run in. I’m stubborn like that.
Because after all… what better motivation is there for a truly full and happy life than the fear of not doing everything you possibly could to have as many triumphant stories and achievements at the end of your life. What’s the point of being alive, if you don’t live.