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Don't Just Quit Your Job and Travel the World

October 5, 2015
Musings

I am well aware that a post with this title contradicts the entire website I have built in the past few months. Maybe this is undermining all of my work prior to this and the countless hours I have spent on this adventure. And maybe I will get a lot of shit from people. But that's okay.

I am tired of hearing “just quit your job and travel the world”. I'm sorry but that isn't something that you can “just do”. I’m not talking about quitting your job scooping ice cream at a mall and booking a vacation to Cancun. This is more than just your weekend getaway or a standard 2 week vacation in Hawaii. This isn't about taking a break from life. It is creating a new one.

I'm talking about leaving your life behind. Quitting your career, leaving your friends and family, and opting for an unstable life as a nomad. You can't JUST wake up one day and decide to do this. If you are determined to be a long term traveler, this is not the way to approach it and if you are in the midst of doing so, I recommend you put a stop to it real quick.

I hate to be a downer but unfortunately your 401k, health insurance, and your career are all important and impulsive decisions you make today could set you back for the rest of your life. You should be seriously saving if you are considering a life abroad and look into all of your options. Making this decision can leave you years behind your peers in terms of retirement savings, homeownership, and just money in general. Unfortunately we live in a society where this shit is paramount. You can't JUST do anything.

Maybe this is stemming from my own confusion and torn feelings. Maybe this is coming from pent up frustration working as a freelancer in addition to my full time job. You can't just decide one day to become a long term traveler. If you could, sayonara bitches.

But you can't. And here I am, sitting in my makeshift office, awake far too late according to my alarm clock tomorrow morning and the cubicle already calling my name. I don't know if this is venting or a plea for help. Maybe both.

I have a stable job with all the goodies-PTO, benefits, 401K, and it is in my preferred field. Go me-at 23 I landed a career. But who wants to wake up every morning, dragging their feet to sit in a cubicle all day for the rest of their life? I am finally working in my dream industry that I have been trying to get into for years. And now, here I am wondering why it isn't living up to my hopes and aspirations. I am still working countless hours to further someone else's dreams at the expense of my own.

I have been offered a job as an au pair abroad in several countries I have always wanted to live in. I have an affinity for languages and culture and obviously dream of traveling long term. This is perfect for me. Why can't I go? Why am I turning these down? It is breaking my heart to say no to living in a village in Austria only to return to my dreadful cubicle full of reports and people who don't necessarily care about the state of my soul. I feel like a hypocrite. Here I am with this website and so called dreams of traveling, but I stay.

I feel like a brat as I claim having too many options as my problem. If that isn't a first world problem I don't know what is. I feel so incredibly lucky that I have a promising job and a shot at a long term career and I know I am fortunate to have this stability. I'm ashamed and feel guilty that the traditional lifestyle doesn't fulfill me. It isn't that I came from wealth or has never worked a day in my life previously. I busted my ass to get to where I am and I took a lot of risks that ended up paying off. After all of this work, my heart aches at the disappointment that I had expected would be elation and excitement.

People will ridicule me, saying that so many people have it worse and that I shouldn't feel this way. I am not doubting or minimizing those who struggle more than I do. But saying that I can't be upset and frustrated because people have it worse isn't fair. Are we not all privileged to our own sort of happiness? If we have the means to pursue such a thing, should we not because others don’t have this luxury? This is like saying you shouldn't be so happy because others have it better.

But I need to know it is okay to not be happy with where I am at. I need to end this anxiety and unyielding guilt. It is okay to want something more. Stop telling me to just go. Believe me, I wish that I could quit my job and travel without the associated risks. Don't tell me I don't want it enough. It isn't that easy. If it was, do you really think I would be writing this right now? 

That's not how any of this works.

Quitting your job to travel doesn't mean you don't work, it only means you have a new job. And like any other job, it has to support you and what you want to do. Whether it is writing, being a virtual assistant, graphic designer, or picking up jobs as you travel, you will be working and it will most likely be less stable than what you could have at home. It isn't easy wondering if your clients will pay you in time.

That voice in the back of my head is called responsibility. It is an asshole. It tells me how proud my family is of me, reminds me of all the financial lessons that have been beaten into my head and the expectations of American life. When in reality, I am fully aware of the terrible housing market, dwindling social security, and gaping holes in education and healthcare. I never thought I would think to myself-damn, why can't we be socialists? This had never appeared to be an issue until I realized that I won't reap the benefits of what I'm planning for when I could be living in Germany, learning the language and culture.

But I can't leave.

Maybe I lost some readers. Maybe I hurt someone's feelings. I’m sorry. But I would rather be real than lie to you.

Siggi Einarson

My name is Siggi-dubbed by my American friends because of the Icelandic yogurt-I am a writer, polyglot, and aspiring expat, not a cup of yogurt (unfortunately).

My love for travelling began with a trip to Iceland and Sweden to visit my family when I was just 15 years old. I spent so long dreaming of the possibilities of life abroad but I always figured these dreams were too far reached. Flash forward almost 10 years, here I am again, both cursing and thanking this damn travel bug.

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