You just put in your two weeks notice, citing that you have decided to pursue an opportunity to travel the world, indefinitely, with Maria.
You were talking to one of your friends, solidifying your itinerary in your mind and trying to plan when you would visit after you started the first leg of your journey.
Over the course of the conversation, he said:
“Anyway…I’m jealous of your travel and your freedom.”
To which you replied immediately:
“The hardest part was the emotional resolution. Everything else is easy.”
Surprised by the concise statement, and the ease from which it came out, you evaluated its truth.
Is that even true? Yes. It is absolutely true.
It does take time to wind-down your life, but it doesn’t actually take a lot of effort in the way that we think about work. You make appointments, you talk on the phone, you schedule things.
You had to make a few trips to Goodwill. You went to the library to make donations. You cleaned, organized, reorganized etc. You made lists, budgets, and timelines. You went to REI, a lot. But none of these things were actually difficult.
The hardest part, was the mental preparation, and the difficulty came entirely from what other people thought about you. It also came from how the people in your life defined success, and how your new plans would fit into their image of success.
You want support of those around you. You hate disappointing people and you want everyone to like you. Who doesn’t?
But there comes a time when you discover your own desires. There comes a time when your idea of happiness is completely uninhibited by the needs and wants of others and you just need to go for it.
Often, this is resisted, but sometimes it is pursued. The difference is not in ability, the difference is in the resolve.
Your life includes a large gamut of people. You know people who are married, you know people who have children. The people in your life have masters degrees, ivy league educations. They dropped out of high school, they moved to another country, they joined the military, they bought houses, they still live at home. Did each one of these people in your life choose their path? You don’t know the answer to this, but you hope the answer is yes, and you hope it is yes not just because it was what was expected of them, but because it was what they wanted.
To your jealous friend. There is no one preventing him from quitting his PhD program. People do it all the time. No one is forcing you to stay at your job (unless you have children, then the situation gets more complicated). There is no job or path that cannot be altered, as long as you are confident in your decisions.
The key is recognizing your path and finding the resolve to pursue it.