Today is a big day for me.
Today I leave on a trip that I have been dreaming about since I was 22, when I graduated college and entered the real world.
Like a lot of people in my generation, I wasn't a fan of going to work everyday. I hated the thought of becoming a "grown up" and having to worry about things like "bills," and being an exemplary employee so I could move up in the world. The career treadmill, as some people call it. Yes I know careers are important, but they are more important to some than they are to others. My priorities have always been to see strange places and do unbelievable things. I've wanted life experiences that I could look back on when I was older and remember fondly while also thinking of how crazy and foolish I was. I've wanted to live out my young years traveling. I didn't care if I had to travel alone to do it. I actually wanted to travel alone! I looked at it as an opportunity to really find myself and learn how to love myself. I've wanted to be spontaneous. Travel as long as I could, to wherever city I felt was calling my name and when the money ran out to get a job where ever I was. Then work and make some more money until I had enough to leave again and traveled some more. I realized quickly though that to at least begin to travel I needed a (small) plan and (some) money. So I went to work everyday with one goal in mind: work until I could leave, and that got me through my shift everyday.
Of course sometimes life gets in the way of the grand plans that you make for yourself. As I fell more in love with Matt it became harder and harder to leave his side. My wanderlust I had since such a young age slowly got replaced with real life reality. Stay here. Don't ruin a good thing. Be an adult. I pushed my dreams of never ending travel and adventure away and accepted that they were just that. Dreams. Something that gets you through another day at work. Not something that actually happens.
Then in December 2014, Matt and I took a road trip, and all those dreams of endless travel and far away places came rushing back. I remember it vividly - we were driving to the grand canyon after just having a fantastic day on the top of a mountain in Santa Fe - and I realized that this is what I love to do. I realized I hadn't been truly this happy for a long time. I realized you can't push away something that you inherently want. So I decided to go after my dreams, full force, no excuses this time.
Thankfully Matt loves me no matter how many crazy dreams I had. Also thankfully he got an internship in Switzerland from August - December. It was the perfect tiny push I needed and it gave me an easy choice: I could travel through Europe alone (and occasionally with Matt and some other friends who are coming to visit) while also having a safety net (Matt's apartment in Geneva) that I could retreat to if I am wrong and the lone road isn't for me.
And now, today, almost 10 months after I had this epiphany, I am leaving for Europe. I am traveling (mostly) alone the whole first month. After that I have some weeks booked completely and some weeks purposely left open so I can be that spontaneous person I know is inside of me. I won't be back until Jan 9th.
When I tell people I am leaving, and for how long, I get some strange looks. My parents think I am downright crazy and worry about me being alone. The truth is even I worry about traveling alone. Even after dreaming about this for so long I have doubts that creep into my mind so rapidly I wonder how I even had the courage to book my plane ticket in the first place. But then I realize everyone has doubts and I won't know if I can do this, or if this life of travel truly is for me, until I actually try.
I can only do my best to shrug off the judgmental tones I sometimes receive from people who don't agree with what I am doing. If I am brutally honest with myself I still am self conscious about what people think about me and the way I choose to live my life. But, with each passing day, I am learning to not care and to live for me, not them. This is what is right for me and I am excited to start this chapter of my life, that is all that really matters.
I hope you follow along on this journey with me.