One 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.
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.