This year, Andrew and I made the biggest decision of our lives. We both chose to leave our corporate jobs, leave our apartment of 2 1/2 years in Manhattan, leave behind the security of full-time salaries, health insurance, familiar routines. I think the decision to consciously forgo the comfort that comes with simply, knowing–knowing there is financial security, a consistent weekly schedule, opportunity for career growth–this was the concept I struggled with during the months preceding our big decision.
For a long while we felt like our move to Manhattan was part of the natural course of things: Graduate from college, take the first job offer that you receive (because it’s not guaranteed you’ll receive another) and then move to wherever the job is- And this is exactly what I did. What really strikes me now is the idea that oftentimes, we make these seemingly big life decisions without giving much thought as to what we actually want. And this leads to my central point- how Andrew and I came to the decision to leave behind stability for what we hope will be our truly next great adventure.
Andrew and I had talked about traveling the world over the last few years, but our conversations always had an idealistic undertone- as if what we were both saying was, we loved the idea in theory, but knew we would never actually take the plunge. It wasn’t until two years ago that the idea began to take on tangible form. The first step was opening up a joint savings account. We began taking a small portion of every paycheck and depositing it directly into our new trip fund. Taking this actionable step made the trip, which previously seemed fanciful at best, more of a reality for me. And from that point, it was a steady series of steps–dedicated research, budget sheets, and finally, the official purchase of our plane ticket to Europe.
There’s no way to accurately describe how we took the metaphorical leap from wistful daydreaming at the office to actually making this dream of ours into a reality. We didn’t wake up one day and say, “let’s just do this.” And it certainly wasn’t an easy process getting to our decision. It took a lot of careful thought and careful planning, a lot of pros/ cons lists. There was certainly a lot of indecision, even after we made the decision to go out loud. We are both adventurous, but we are not spontaneous in the traditional sense.
We could never both leave our jobs to travel the world and come back to nothing, financially speaking. Because to come home from the best adventure of our lives and immediately be bogged down with worries about money would completely defeat the purpose of why we sacrificed so much to take the trip in the first place.
But what we came to realize was that traditional social conventions, the ones we have both followed all our lives–graduate from college to get a good job, take that job and work as hard as possible so you can get promoted, keep on working hard to earn more money and save for retirement–does not allow a lot of room for perspective. It doesn’t necessarily give you time to take a step back from the daily grind and ask yourself, for instance, “Is this the right career for me? Am I happy in this city?”
It’s extremely easy to get caught up in the day to day and never allow yourself the time for conscious thought. Andrew and I realized, simply put, that if we were truly serious about traveling, the time was now. It was not next year or the year after, where we would certainly have a million and one new reasons not to take this trip. Because that’s the crux of it. There’s always a reason for us to say no. To take the safe route. That’s what we’ve done our whole lives. But what I finally came to realize, and what has helped me during me some of my more unsure moments, is that no matter what, I will NOT regret having taken this trip. I will not look back when I’m 30 or 40 something and wonder why I was so irresponsible. The time for experience truly is now, when we’re young and healthy and open-minded. Now I only look forward to what will truly be a life-changing adventure.
– From B