What It Feels Like to Sell All Your Stuff and Completely Change Your Life
“Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” — Hunter S. Thompson
It’s just stuff.
You can’t grow without discomfort.
Why do I insist on putting myself in these impossible positions?
I need to get rid of more stuff.
This is the path I’m supposed to walk.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I can do this. I’m fearless.
I need my mom.
I need more stuff.
These and thousands of other thoughts constantly waft in and out of my brain and have for the last several months as I depart in just 10 days for a yearlong trip around the world with Remote Year, where I’ll be living and working with 70 or so professionals as we travel to one new country a month.
I read about Remote Year when it started a year ago and was attracted to the concept of creating community through travel, two of my passions brought together. I started to follow the inaugural group’s journey and in one of those updates, I read they were accepting applications for next year. The first year, they received 25,000 applications for a class of 75 participants. I knew they’d surely receive more this year, so I applied without much thought because I thought I would never get in…but I did.
I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of the months that followed, but the turn of events basically went like this:
1. Do I even want to do this? I just moved to NY and started a new job barely a year ago.
2. I definitely want to do this if Work will let me. Is it feasible to do my current job remotely?
3. I think it’s feasible, let me see what Work thinks.
4. Work is thinking about it!
5. Work is not into it.
6. Do I want to go anyway?
7. Cut to a lot of tears, emotion, sleepless nights, phone calls to loved ones, email inquiries, ups & downs, obsessing, analyzing, long walks, MOAR EMOTION, and somewhere in here, a realization that if I don’t do this, I will regret it and the time is now, so I need to make the leap and have faith that the ground will rise up to meet me.
8. I tell Work that this is important to me and I am not leaving because I am unhappy here, but because I have to do this.
You’re probably thinking, A trip around the world for a year? What is there to agonize over? In addition to the major decision on departing from a career path, company, and team I’ve invested in (no big deal), I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find means to support myself. My mother wisely asked me, “Tell me: what is the worst thing you think could happen?” She waited for a response. “That I won’t be able to afford to continue after two months and I’ll have to come home,” I said. “I’ll have failed.” “Ok,” she said. “So what, so you come home?” I realized once I acknowledged that fear and looked it straight in the face, it felt like something I might be able to stomach. I’m not good at asking for help and like to make it on my own, so needing my parents or having to move back in with them at 31 did seem like the worst thing in the world to me; but, worse than not embracing this incredible experience?
There are many reasons I’ve forged ahead to make this happen (in addition to being attracted to the lifestyle), but none more important than the opportunity to grow. I couldn’t allow the promise of comfort dictate my life. I think I’ve been doing that for too long and there is no growth in comfort. I’m at the point in my life where I want to examine how I’ve spent early adulthood and what I want the next phase of my life to look like. I need to stop speeding along business as usual, slow down, and change things up to be able to fully realize that.
I did sell all my furniture. I did and do need my mom, who graciously came and helped me pack the rest of what little I kept. My apartment lease was going to run out a month before I had to leave and when I was stressed about what to do, a dear friend suggested I move in with her. When I told her I couldn’t ask her to do that, she smiled and kindly replied, “You didn’t ask. I offered.” My father financially supported me in getting my passport and visas squared away. My sister gave me her precious Peace Corps duffle bag. I’ve slowly ticked off things on my massive to-do list, which used to seem insurmountable and now only has a few things left. And now I’m working with my current company to continue on a part-time trial basis. I also have a couple of new clients and am working on getting a few more.
Next Saturday, February 27th, I’ll board a plane bound for Argentina (here’s our full itinerary if you’re interested). I’ve already learned important lessons in vulnerability and asking for help. And I’m spent on overthinking and emotions. I’m ready.