Humans are conditioned to fight change. It is in our very nature to combat the unknown because we instinctively fear it. From moving to a different country to something as small as taking a new job, we will always feel a rush of both excitement and dread; constantly questioning if we made the right decision, or if we will enjoy this new path in life that we have chosen for ourselves. I am not an exception to this rule.
This last week has been one of the most terrifying weeks I have ever experienced. Not due to a small change, but because my entire life is being uprooted. It is a change I have long put off because of my inherent fears, of both the unknown and failure. As much fear as I have been experiencing however, there is a sense of relief and excitement that is overwhelming all doubts. My hope is that this adventure that I am soon to embark on will drive me to continue to conquer fears and push myself towards achieving a personal growth I have long sought.
I decided that, in order to take this step I had to also be brave enough to share my journey with the world. I must completely open my personal life up to others to share in my joys, my pains, and my hardships as I venture forth into the unknown, partly to overcome my immensely closed off nature as well as to inspire others to make the leap in pursuit of their own dreams.
With that said, here is my story:
For most of my life I have been a cautious person. Always weighing options. Always choosing the safe, well traveled path. I tried to follow the road that had been drilled into my head. School, work, marriage, kids, retire. It seemed simple enough. I did well in school, started working when I was sixteen, graduated and went on to college to pursue a degree in photography. I wanted to shoot editorial work for magazines to pay the bills while I shot gallery work for my own personal tastes. By my third semester, everything started crumbling around me. I was dumped by the girl I wanted to marry, my parents started the long process of their divorce, and my grandfather (whom I had met only a few years prior and came to love dearly) passed away.
I lost all focus and desire to continue forward. Seeing the fragility of life and the constructs we have created in search of happiness all fall apart around me, I sought escape. In about two weeks time I had stopped attending classes all together and had decided to move in with a friend in Austin. The next two years were spent living outside of reality. We partied (a lot), I worked (a little), and in general I avoided any responsibility that I could because none of it seemed worth it anymore. Finally, after eight months of being unemployed amidst the market crash, I reached out to my father for help.
The next leg started back home with him. He bought me an old pickup that we started rebuilding, I got a job at a convenience store, and started building my life all over again, and again I was barely making it by. Next stop was San Antonio to try again with my mom. I moved in, found a job waiting tables and finally started making some progress. With almost nothing to my name I scratched up enough cash to rent a studio apartment, bought my bicycle back from the pawn shop and continued forward.
Eventually I started bartending in the cocktail scene in San Antonio, and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I met so many amazing people. I felt a sense of pride in what I was doing that I had never experienced before. This was it. This was my calling. Something I could do for the rest of my life and finally be happy. But life, it seemed, had other plans for me.
It has been about 8 years since I entered the service industry. I’ve worked at every style of bar you could imagine and I’ve made a ton of memories both good and bad. Towards the end however, something just didn’t feel right anymore. I could not find joy in what I did and I hated everyone that walked through the doors. I was constantly depressed and couldn’t find motivation to get out of the house anymore.
Something had changed.
I have battled depression for most of my life. More accurately, I have tried to ignore and push past whatever was making me depressed in the first place. The thing about depression is that it never really goes away, and ignoring it only means it gets bigger and meaner every time it comes back. For the most part, I had resigned myself to living a life of just dealing with it and hoping that it wouldn’t get bad enough for me to end it all, a scenario I am all too familiar with.
With 30 rapidly approaching, I felt like I didn’t have the strength to continue surviving. I had to start thriving. I couldn’t keep up this endless loop of working only to pay bills, always chasing my own tail and never moving forward. I thought about what it was in my life that made me stress, about what my dreams and my desires were without any caveat or fear.
What would I do if I had no limitations?
That was the question that permeated my daily life. I thought back to a crazy idea I had about being a vagabond. Travelling aimlessly with no destination and no restrictions. As crazy and terrifying as this idea is, the rational part of me knows still have to eat and pay a couple of bills so I decided to put writing to use, and so, I have arrived at this moment, doing something completely irrational in pursuit of my dreams. The last week has been spent selling everything I don’t need and finding homes for anything with sentimental value. I quit my job, picked up a new computer to write about my travels, and am in the process of acquiring the remaining camping gear essential to my survival. Here are the parameters:
- I will be travelling from coast to coast, making various stops along the way to visit friends and family.
- The only other person on the trip will be my dog Delilah (barring potential ride share opportunities).
- No money can be spent on hotels or other accommodations, alcohol, or food from a restaurant. I must cook all my own meals unless someone buys food for me. If someone wants to buy me a drink, that is acceptable, and accommodations can only be from camping or couch surfing.
- I will continue to travel until I run out of finances to do so (which means that I will be travelling indefinitely if I can get enough people to follow me here). I will attempt to pick up bar shifts if I am staying anywhere for a few weeks in order to continue my travels.
- I have a list of places that I will be travelling to, but what I see and do in between is up to the readers.
- This blog is meant to tell the stories of others as much as my own. So if you meet me, tell me about your pursuit of your dream!
- This blog will also be an account of my camping excursions. Where to go, what to see and what to avoid, as well as pack lists and other tips to fully enjoy your own trip.
So here we are; two weeks from departure. Fourteen days until everything I have known, every comfort, is traded in for a risk. This will be the craziest, potentially stupidest thing I have ever done, and I want to share it with you all.