I’ve always had what I thought was a healthy case of wanderlust – satisfied by two to three week jaunts out of the country every year or so, and longer when I was in college and graduate school. In between I managed to get a master’s degree, establish a solid career, adopt a dog and “settle down” in Boston by purchasing and renovating my first condo.
From time to time, I seriously contemplated moving overseas, perhaps joining the Foreign Service or working for an NGO. However, I always came back to the same conclusion – I really liked my life as it was.
That was until May 2012. I had started a new job and knew from the minute I walked in the door for the first time that accepting it had been a bad decision. I stuck it out for a year, struggling nearly every day, often feeling trapped, helpless and overwhelmed – until that October when a college acquaintance reached out and invited me to coffee.
Rachel was a few years younger and toiled away in similar, unhappy professional circumstances. At our meeting, she revealed that she was quitting her job and going to Southeast Asia for two months. She rattled off blogger after blogger who inspired her to take the plunge, and sang the praises of an organization called Meet, Plan, Go!, which encourages long-term travel and career breaks. (I now serve as organizer for the Boston group.)
From that moment, my wanderlust was back in full force. Could I possibly do what Rachel was doing? I began following the bloggers she recommended, and I attended the Meet, Plan, Go! Fall conference in Boston, where I was in a room of about 100 people just like me – restless, and thinking/hoping/ dreaming about breaking away from our jobs, our lives and heading into the unknown.
I wish I could say that I made the decision there and then to quit my job, but I didn’t. I wish I could say that I hopped on a plane the moment I did finally muster up the nerve to break free, more than six months later, but I didn’t. There was always a reason – I wanted to focus on starting my consulting business, which would ultimately give me the flexible to live and travel overseas. I also wanted to try settling down in earnest, find a husband and start a family.
This past year, I did start a business, and I did find a boyfriend. But the need to leave never left. So I bought a ticket to Bangkok. And today, I am ONE WEEK away from getting on the plane – I will walk away from my boyfriend, my condo, my dog and my business, and spend nearly eight weeks traveling around Southeast Asia, mostly by myself.
With friends and family, I talk about the need to “get this out of my system,” but deep down I know that I’m just kidding myself. This is just the beginning.