I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on another Wednesday, hit my snooze button three or four times, laid in bed scrolling through my Instagram feed of exotic places and faces, rushed to get dressed and maybe brushed my hair, drove the same street passing the same people who stood at the same bus stops, took the same three flights of stairs up to my office, and sat at the same desk, drinking the same coffee. Sound familiar?
I started asking myself those downward-spiral sort of questions — What am I doing? What is the point? What is my purpose? How did I get here? It was enough to keep me up at night—the feeling that life had played some sort of sick joke on me, telling me from a young age to follow my heart, yet there I was, sitting at a desk and staring at a bright blue screen for eight hours a day, five days a week, sending surf and ski ads to magazines. I looked around me and everyone else seemed to be just fine with their routine.
As the spiral continued, I began to self-loathe, treating myself like a sellout. I wasn’t practicing what I wanted to be preaching. I had no choice. I gave the company I loved and
respected almost two months’ notice and started to downsize everything I owned. I didn’t know what I was packing for. I browsed the internet, threw a few darts at the map and booked my first one-way ticket to Portugal, then Morocco, the U.K., Iceland, Mexico, Indonesia, East Oz, Hawaii... and the list goes on and on.
When you start leaking that you’re going to “take off” for a little while to surf or ski or hike or camp or write or paint or [insert passion project you’ve been putting off here] to the world and your community, the suggestions, people and places start to naturally roll in. Out of nowhere, this support system I never realized I had held me up and encouraged me to just go. I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it, but something felt more right about this departure than any of my other more calculated options. I jokingly called it the infamous “quarterlife crisis,” which quickly evolved into “opt-in homelessness” after I found myself sleeping on a mattress under the stars in the middle of the Baja California desert.
As I write to you from a café on a small island in Indonesia, I’m on day 87 (and counting) since leaving my corporate 8-to-5 desk job, jumping on the next train, plane, or bus to a new place in the world. Every single one of these 87 days has been completely different than the last. I’ve found myself immersed in new countries with various languages, culture, food and friends. I’ve swam with sharks and experienced my first earthquake. I wish I could tell you that I was happy, but that word downplays my current state. I’m alive on a secret mission to live by example with my head in the clouds and my bare, dirty feet on the ground. This isn’t a crisis , nor is it homelessness or soul-searching, but temporary retirement.