As you write this, the only thing in between you and a one way flight to Ireland is time.
In an effort to unpack this new situation, to fully understand the weight, you decide that you will catalog the experiences and happenings that lead up to this moment.
Over beers at The Beverage Place in West Seattle, you sat across from Maria, sipping on a Fishtail (an organic micro-brew) listening to her tell you more stories of hitch hiking through Europe. She told you about sneaking into campgrounds after hours, wwoofing on a sustainable living project in the south of France, becoming so sick of organic strawberries that the thought of eating more made her cringe. She told you about how beautiful Slovenia is and how she can’t wait to go back to Istanbul, and how much you would love it. It was sunny but cool out on the back patio of the bar. You looked across the table at her and without realizing it, you asked her “what if I quit my job and went traveling with you?”
That was all it took. Her eyes lit up, and that was that. She spoke excitedly about where you would go, packing lists, savings plans, anecdotes about different countries, things you would do and see together, and hopes of new places to go. It was essentially non-stop focus until you arrived back to your lives in San Francisco.
You logged in your notebook things you would need to obtain before departure, a list of reasons why you wanted to quit your job, and a rough savings calculator to determine how soon you could leave and still meet your savings goal. Maria created packing lists in Google Docs that you passed around. You notified your friends, family, and two select coworkers whom you trust.
Wait, what? Where did that come from? That question: “what if I quit my job and went traveling with you?”
It came as the culmination of lots of private thought and consideration. You were once so involved in your job and so committed, that the idea of leaving for any extended period of time made you cringe. Even at the possibility of traveling the world with your girlfriend.
Then, something changed. You began to notice things you had not noticed before. What had begun as a nurturing, encouraging environment turned into a culture of blame and reprimanding. You left work feeling defeated, incompetent, and even stupid.
Before you and Maria left for Seattle, you were nearing the end of a rough week. Your supervisor was out of the office that day, and you were still reeling from the events that happened during the week prior. You asked a coworker to go for a walk with you and you unloaded on him. Everything.
“Have you thought about quitting?”
“Yes. Many times, actually”
“So what is the worst-case scenario?”
“Well…I guess that I would just do such a bad job that I’d get fired.”
“I’d probably go to Europe with Maria and travel around for a while.”
“So your worst case scenario is going on a permanent vacation with Maria?”
Despite how eye-opening that conversation was. You were still not convinced, but the seed had been planted.
Your whole life you have been an overachiever. You have literally done everything you ever put your mind to. You graduated at the top of your high school class, you were student of the year, you went to UCLA, you double majored and worked part-time through everything. You moved up to the bay area with no place to live or a job and still managed to come out ahead. You are Katie fucking Seibert.
And this job leaves you feeling incompetent? Something is not right here. This can’t be that hard. You asked yourself a few key questions. What do you value? How do you define success?
You have always been poor, so you did not necessarily define success by how much money you earn. Also, you are smart enough to know that a high paying job doesn’t necessarily make someone rich or good with money. You just wanted to be able to do what you wanted, and not have the lack of money hold you back.
In walks Maria, this beautiful, intelligent, savvy woman. Over time, through her storytelling, she successfully convinces you that you do not need money to travel. The more you realized how attainable this was, the more you wanted to do it.
In college, everyone you knew spent semesters abroad and went traveling after graduating. You never could because you were poor and on your own. You were plagued by questions such as: “Where will I keep my things?” “How will I feed myself?” “What will I have to come back to?” Now, however, Maria was providing you with answers to these questions, moreover, they were very simple. You will keep your things in Seattle with her things, you will feed yourself organic food on a budget, and you will come back to Seattle and find another job somewhere like you always do. This would not be the first time you landed in a new city and found employment, remember? This challenge is well within your limits. You are well prepared. Stop being a little bitch and just do it.
So there, sitting right there, outside in the bar, slightly tipsy, picking at the plant on the table, you went for it. It became clearer that you define success as freedom to do what you want to do, and you wanted to do this, with Maria, very much.
Subconsciously, you also define success as being awesome. This is more difficult to pin down. What does that even mean? Well, your mentor from high school, Mr. Davis lead you to this idea that being awesome meant tackling life head on. It meant putting yourself in challenging situations just so that you could overcome them. You have pursued this principle with vigor ever since you graduated.
You went from playing in the marching band, to playing rugby. You were terribly nonathletic, had never played a sport before in your life, and instead of starting with something a little bit less…intense (tennis?) you chose rugby. What the fuck is wrong with you? You also had major insecurities about supporting yourself, so rather than stay in Los Angeles where you had a job lined up, you moved 500 miles away (a decision you made just 3 days prior) where you had no job, and no housing. And you know what? You succeeded in both endeavors tremendously.
So what makes you think for one second that quitting your job and hitch hiking through Europe is at all beyond you? Fortunately, you don’t think that. In fact you’re very excited. You also continue to surprise yourself, and that’s pretty great.
That is how you got here. The slow realization that your environment is crucial and you need to be challenged in extreme ways. You need rich experiences. You need to share them with the person you love. You need fodder for your poetic memory. You need to be out of your comfort zone.
Here is a good place to be.