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My Last Week of Work

corpheadOne week left for maintaining employment in the United States.  It is shocking and uneasy to say at the same time.  I feel like my entire adult life has been heavily focused on improving my career, making more money and being able to invest in my future and myself.  The thought of not having a job for the first time since I graduated college is frightening.  Here comes my story’s hook.  It is not frightening for me; it is frightening for those that surround me.

I am perfectly content leaving my job after 12 years of commitment.  Fortunately, I was able to attend college through supportive parents and establish, in my opinion, a successful career.  My dedication to my career will fund my trip and provide a sense of financial security.  I must admit the gear and gadgets I will be purchasing are more expensive than those I would have purchased had I done this as a gap year out of college.  There is no denying that.  There is no reason to feel guilt or irresponsible for taking an extended vacation, career break or to just search for what it is that you feel you should be doing.  Life provides us options, but only for those courageous enough to seek them out.  This is easier for me, considering I have spent the last 12 years working and saving, I don’t own a house and I am debt free.  But, it is important for you to know that there are many others that have the same desires and much less than any of us can imagine, but still seek out their dreams.

A common statement made by those that hear our story is, “I wish I could do that, but…”  The, “but” often proceeds the, “wish.”  I often keep mum and listen to their reasons they can’t do what they wish.  It is funny how people always insist on telling you the reasons.  I never ask for them, unless of course they are my close friends.  So why do people feel the need to explain?  My guess is that it is intended to provide comfort.  It is a reason one tells themselves in order to feel they have a legitimate excuse.  They thought about it rationally and made an intelligent decision.  In no way am I trying to minimize one’s reasons for not traveling.  I am speaking to those that have the means and the ability.  The problem lies with the common misconception by Americans that we have a legitimate excuse.  My intent is to have you think about your dreams and desires in an irrational way.  Dreams are not meant to be over analyzed.

Colleagues at Mercedes-Benz USA

Colleagues at Mercedes-Benz USA

I do not fear letting go of my job, but others close to me find it wildly unconventional, risky and even immature.  It’s a shame these views exist in our culture.  I assure you, this perception is most evident in the United States.  We focus most of our energy on our jobs or careers, leaving us very little time to enjoy life in ways we once dreamed of.  Consumerism in America has played a large role in shaping our lives, but corporate America has contributed its share too.  If we continue to work, we can continue to buy things that we have been convinced make us happy.  And the more often we work, the more the corporation benefits, especially if you are salary based.  This is the formula that has ruined work-life balance in America.  This is the formula that makes you feel guilty for taking a two-week vacation, asking for a sabbatical or not being able to buy your children a pool.  It’s the formula that spawned recent college graduates purchasing a BMW or Mercedes, families requiring obnoxiously large SUVs, gigantic diamond rings and commercials informing you of your current state of depression.  This is the America we have come to know today.

I will be the bug in the system, the anomaly that has gone array.

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Kenneth says:

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank God there are other like-minded folks out there.

Rhona says:

The same perception of giving up a career to travel as immature, different and unwise is very much present in Canada also. I say forget them. Do what you need to do. Even me moving to Germany is viewed as high unconventional and unwise-only because it is foreign to those around me. I won’t be taking a career break but moving to a new culture and experiencing a different way of life is very important.
Can’t wait to keep reading about your adventures.

kevin says:

love this post excellent , couldn’t agree with you more on this subject. why should we all have to work 9-5 job to feed our appetite for material goods. when you open your eyes to the world and realize that work is a kind of torture that every feels they have to endure you can see it for what it really is.

Free your mind.

Jason says:

Thanks Kevin, we are hoping to free our minds!

TT says:

I do not think it’s just a “North American” thing, and in fact, I don’t think it’s really that much of problem for the culture. Long long time ago, our ancestors quit being nomads and spending thousands of years to settle down. Some of us, for better or worse, still did not rid of the “walk around” gene, and we become misfits. That’s all.
The civilizations are built by people who stay put, in fact, when we travel, we visit people who stay put. That’s why traveling is interesting – getting to know the locals. If everybody is moving everywhere, who is cooking your banana pancake? 🙂
As for the balance – it’s hard to say what is balanced. Everybody has his or her own comfort zone. There is no point convincing others to travel more, just like it’s silly for them to convince us to stay still.

Jason says:

I think that spending some time traveling to unfamiliar places, experiencing different cultures and getting a better understanding of the world has many benefits. I agree, if everyone traveled, there would be no cities. But that is only if everyone was a permanent nomad. Companies today look for a diverse workforce. Diversity offers varying views on subjects, ultimately providing different ideas or solutions that otherwise might not be discovered. This same benefit can be realized by a civilization whose people have experienced more than just their local environment or culture. The new push for volunteerism in the United States is an example of the government realizing that organizations such as the Peace Corps provide a tremendous benefit to our society. The point of the article is for people to follow their dreams, but you have raised a point that does resonate with us. I feel strongly that not only diverse people, but diverse experiences can benefit a country such as the United States.

CONGRATS!!! Looking forward to seeing you on the road one of these days!!!!

Dan says:

The movie A Map for Saturday had a pretty good look at this. Most Brook’s colleagues had weird views on what he was doing, yeah it’s unconventional but that doesn’t make it wrong, it is sad that these ideals exist but then again if everyone thought the same places like Laos would have turned into Thailands, not that there is anything wrong with Thailand but it’s nice to still have those less traveled places to find.

Jason says:

And we yearn for places like Laos!

Kirsty says:

Don’t look back! …I don’t think you will. The world is full of people with the opinion that stuff in meaningless and once you get out there and meet them all, you will wonder why anyone back at home bothers with all that junk.

Jason says:

And I had a lot of junk. I am excited to get away from it all and enjoy more meaningful things in life. But, I can’t deny that I am nervous. It’s a big change.

i love this post, and i love you for following your heart :).

i’m a 23-year-old single mom with a wandering heart and a lust for adventure and anything unconventional. i’ve worked at a big financial firm for the past four years, and i’m also attending school to become a nurse. i dove headfirst into corporate life when i found out i was pregnant about four years ago. while i’m very proud of the circumstances i’ve thrived in in the corporate world and in my single mom world, my soul is searching for more. i want to travel, and the itch is more persistent and stronger with every passing year.

i have a sabbatical coming up next year, marking my fifth year with my company, and my head is swimming with travel ideas. i dream of my son and i exploring southeast asia, europe, or holland. i can’t wait to make these ideas a reality.

i love your blog and i can’t wait to read more :). thanks for sharing your story.

Dave and Deb says:

Everyone used to react the same way to us. After you have been traveling for a while, they will come to expect it. Now everyone thinks it is weird when we spend too much time at home. We are always being asked, where are you going next, when are you leaving?
Eventually you will seem like the normal one to your friends and family and they will start wondering why they aren’t following in your footsteps:)

Jason says:

I hope to get to that point in life. You guys are obviously seasoned travelers and it’s become a significant part of your life. I will now pay attention and try to see when that time arrives where people start to think the same about us. Thanks for the insight!

Great stuff & congratulations for giving it up.

I was the same, I regret not doing it four years sooner than I did when some of my friends packed in work to do a season in Whistler – my ‘reason’ was my career. That career became a burder around my neck, the pursuit of happiness was not being won in my 9-5 life (or 8-7 as it was).

Having travelled for a year or so I don’t consider myself more worldly or wise but I am certainly happier and far, far more relaxed.

Good luck, I can’t wait to read all about you adventure.

Andy

Jason says:

And in the end it’s about your happiness. I am not bashing work, it’s just that we tend to put work first before everything else in life. Work is a part of our lives, but it shouldn’t be our lives. It shouldn’t stop us from doing the things we love, or think we might enjoy. Congratulations to you to, Andy.

Liz @ ExtremeTelecommute says:

It’s funny how comforting convention is for many people. I travel a lot, which makes people nervous–and because I am young, female, and travel alone, I encounter a lot of negative, fear-based reactions. But since I have been working while traveling, those reactions have been significantly subdued. It’s as though the fact that I work erases the danger that was so worrisome in the first place.

Good job not asking for reasons–after a while, I find that some people stop justifying and start trying to figure out how they can travel, too. Or, at least, have a grudging admiration for me for the great feat of escaping alive from all of the “dangerous” countries. 🙂

Jason says:

That’s very interesting. I laughed at the fact that it all seemed to become OKAY once you informed them you were also working.

corina says:

got a similar reaction in Canada. the question I’ve heard the most is why? um…is why not? a good enough answer?

Jason says:

Maybe it’s a North American thing… less California.

Molly Bermea says:

LOVE THIS. 🙂 totally agree. Even worse, you work in the car industry… talk about guilt guilt guilt for even thinking of leaving work on time. lol congrats to your for jumping out of the system. Good time for it too.

Jason says:

Thanks Molly. The truth is there is no better time. The time is always now, otherwise you run the risk of never doing it. Thanks for the favicon, looks great!

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