Today is December 9th, 2014. 125 days from now, on April 14, 2015, I will begin the adventure of a lifetime. While everyone around me is getting excited by the Christmas spirit, the decorating of trees and the carols on the radio – all of which excite me – I have butterflies in my stomach not for any holiday, but for the unknown that lay ahead.
The groundwork is all complete. I have an around-the-world flight booked. I have a 45litre backpack, into which I will be fitting my entire life. I have bought a mini travel-sized hair straightener and blow dryer that can be used with any voltage. My closet has been purged down to only the essentials, with styles appropriate for the different cultures into which I will be embedding myself. I have my travel insurance in order. My bank accounts and visa have been switched over to ones which are travel focused, with minimal withdrawal fees, the best travel benefits, etc. I have – for the first time in my life – bought myself a tablet which will serve as my laptop while abroad. I have international adapters. I have water tablets. I’ve had numerous inoculations for every disease imaginable. I have everything (I think) I need to leave. So now I wait.
With everything booked and all the plans in motion, the only thing left for me to take in is everything I will be leaving behind. As of today, I’ve not told many people about my big adventure, but those I have all say the same thing: “You’re quitting your job?” “Are you crazy?” “Can’t you just take a leave of absence?” and so forth. And I get it, I really do. To many people I must seem crazy. But when the prospect of being able to see almost the entire world is right in front of you, crazy would be not to jump on it.
Here’s the thing about my work situation. I’m not in a rut, I’m not leaving a job that makes me unhappy, and I’m not running away. I have an amazing employer, I work with brilliant people who inspire me daily and I have an opportunity to grow within my role. It’s when I think of all this that I do, just for a moment, question if maybe I am crazy. The leave of absence question is a delicate one, because every logical fibre of my being is saying that it is in my best interest to at least ask. I just can’t get past how unfair that would be to the people who have treated me so well. They have given me opportunities and allowed me to grow, yet I would ask them to put that all on pause for an endeavor that to everyone else seems self-serving? I can’t bring myself to do it. Furthermore, to commit to a return date terrifies me. With every experience ahead of me being a great unknown, how can I commit to anything? It just feels wrong.
I have been reading travel blogs obsessively and have found one thing very few people write about, perhaps because the emotions associated with it are all so personal, is the mixed emotions leading up to the departure date. I’m leaving loved ones behind and the reality of that is hard. I have 6 and 4 year old nieces and one and a half year old nephew whom are my world, and while only gone not too long of a time, I feel like when I get back they’ll be so grown up from when I left. I have friends I’ve let down as a result of this trip; I’m missing a few weddings, a multitude of birthdays, and so many milestones that I can never make up for. I’ve actually hurt people with my decision to leave. So I’ll forge through the next few months as I have been since making this decision. I’ll keep it to myself, quietly writing my heart out, waiting to post anything until my colleagues know. I’m excited – giddy with excitement in fact – but some days the nerves get to me, if I think too much on the reality of what lays ahead. But with all that said, life itself is an unknown, so why not throw ourselves our own curveballs?[ssba]