I decided that I was going to take a career break to spend a few months traveling abroad. It was a tough process to come to that determination, but after over a year of hemming and hawing, and hawing and hemming, I knew what I needed to do.
The next step was the big one: actually submitting my resignation and letting people know what I would be doing. I’m not LeBron, so I didn’t have an ESPN special to make my announcement, but I was still really nervous and kind of scared that I wouldn’t actually go through with it.
The nervousness, the fear, the mental blocks. I knew that the only thing stopping me at this point was my own head, but it was still a big obstacle for me to overcome.
I wanted to know how to get past the fear and gain the confidence to follow through on my plan. A friend of mine left to travel for a year, so I figured he would have some helpful insight into how to get rid of the fear to actually leave. His great piece of advice was, “Anxiety is part of it.”
Aww man. I hoped there was some “get over your fears quick” trick, but it looked like I couldn’t get rid of the fear; I would just have to move forward in spite of it.
I thought it would really help to know that I was moving toward something concrete instead of just an abstract idea of travel. I decided to actually set plans and book things for my big trip. I booked my first accommodation and got a surge of excitement.
Leading up to my final decision I made trips to REI and other stores to scout out supplies I might need for my travels: clothing, shoes, equipment, etc. The weekend before submitting my notice I actually purchased the gear I would use. I bought a pair of Birkenstocks I knew I would have to start to break in. The biggest moment was buying my REI travel backpack. It made me feel like it was actually happening. It also helped that the staff at REI was so encouraging and became huge cheerleaders.
When I got home and wrote my resignation letter I still couldn’t believe what I was doing. Who was this person taking this big step? I hadn’t even left yet, but with each foot forward I felt a new, more confident version of myself start to emerge.
I had hours-long phone conversations with my aunt and stepmom, who both made me feel like I was making a good decision in spite of their concerns. I also had a lengthy chat with my dad. He was less than thrilled (read: very much against) me heading out on this expedition on my own. It was tough to know that I had to go through with this without his buy-in. He still wasn’t comfortable, but once I told him about what I was planning to do on Monday morning I felt for the first time that I had his support. I think this was the final boost I needed to know that I could go through with this tough decision.
Monday morning came, and I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. I was incredibly nervous. I felt like I was moving in a surreal state. I knew what I was going to do, but I still needed to make sure I would actually go through with it.
I listened to some pump up, feel good music on my way to work. I played Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic and about five repeats of Destiny’s Child’s Happy Face. After sitting in the parking lot for a while with a boost from Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly I finally walked into the office.
I sat at my desk for a few minutes trying to psyche myself up and decided I just needed to go do this. As I walked into my boss’s office I felt my hands start to shake and my palms start to sweat. I sat with him and my manager and explained what I was doing and why. Before I even got to everything I made note of to say they both told me they thought it was a wonderful idea.
What? I was hoping for the best, and this was going even better than I could have imagined. I felt the weight of the entire planet Earth lift off of my shoulders. I was, and still am, overwhelmingly grateful for their understanding and support. We talked for a while about my travel plans and destinations, and it was really enjoyable.
After that I started making my rounds through the office and sending off texts to friends letting everyone know what was going on. I was truly blown away by the outpouring of support I received. All of my biggest fears never materialized.
The thing that struck me the most was the number of people who said they were proud of me. I didn’t get it. Why were people proud of me when I was just living my life? Many people said they wish they could do something like this but they didn’t have the courage.
It sounds really cliché, but if I can do it anyone can do it. Truly. I never thought I would be this person.
I’m not saying that you have to quit your job in order to travel. You don’t. This is what was right for me at this point in my life. If it’s something you feel might be for you just know that you have the capability to do so.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this cord cutting experience is about how much of what plays out in our own heads can stop us from pursuing our dreams. Once we actually make a firm decision for ourselves things start to fall into place. If I can do it you can do it.