I always hear those stories “how I quit my job to travel” or, “I graduated school, didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I decided to travel”. Well, perhaps my story is not much different, but maybe it is. I graduated my post graduate program knowing what I wanted, or so I thought. I wanted to be in a field of compassion, where I helped those in need. Besides, being selfish is a trait no one likes, right? Wrong. Let's be honest, if you're always thinking of others before yourself you will begin to forget about all the things that you want and deserve in life. I quickly got 2 jobs in the field of acquired brain injury. Fulfilling? Sure, but tough. I soon became burnt out, anxious and worried. When you work with people who had a normal life until they acquired a brain injury, your vision of life changes. My dreams, which I have always put on the back burner— “I’ll do this when I’m older,” was always the response— soon became top priority. What if my life was destined to change at the blink of an eye from some sort of freak accident? Maybe I had become frantic. What I do know is that, thanks to my jobs, following my dreams became the number one top priority in my life, and I have no regrets there.
I had been planning my escape from my jobs for 6 months prior to making the big move. I planned out a rough idea of what my life would look like once I quit my job to follow my dreams. I booked a trip to Ireland, I booked a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, I planned a backpacking trip around Europe again (this time solo), I dream of going to Egypt, and I plan to get TEFL certified this year and live abroad somewhere entirely out of my element.
I knew that I was being selfish making the choice to quit my job and travel the world. But it got to the point where my body and my soul, no longer wanted it and started needing it instead. At work, I started to slip and talk about traveling and seeing the world. Co-workers began commenting on my secret adventurous spirit. Fearful of the reactions I would receive, I still decided to make the ultimate move and quit my job to travel anyway. One thing that I did not see coming was the wave of support, respect, appreciation, motivation and friendships my work family supplied me with.
Here is a rundown of what I did not expect and what I am thankful for when I quit my job to travel.
I am one of those people who has always over-planned my life far into the future. Why? Perhaps because I fear the unknown, I mean who doesn’t really? I am fearful of not knowing how my life will pan out, worried about consequences of living in the moment, and scared of finding myself at square one again. This played true on the upcoming days of my ‘big resignation’. I worried myself over how I will do it, how I will respond to each of my bosses reactions (which I was 100% certain would be negative), and how I would handle myself in the aftermath when I was required to tell all my coworkers that I quit my job to travel the world. I’ll admit, I was a bit embarrassed to tell my hardworking, ambitious coworkers that instead of applying for the new position opening, I was quitting to travel the world, the hippie lifestyle, live out of a backpack, the off-the-beaten-path-journey-of-a-lifetime experience. Again, I was 100% certain that I would be scorned, scrutinized and perhaps get laughed at. Thank you Society for your unhealthy emphasis on what ‘social norm’ is.
What I had not expected was what actually happened. All my planning and worrying was for nothing. My boss became a teary-eyed friend telling me that she will miss my work ethic but was so excited and happy for the decision I made to follow my dreams. My coworkers were excited and jealous of my decision. I was asked many questions about things like where was I planning to go, how much money did I save up, where did I get the strength to do this, and some coworkers even gave me advice on places to go as they were well-traveled themselves. Older, more weathered coworkers whom I was never able to get close with were finally talking to me in-depth. It was like they saw me as an entirely different person now; no longer the young and naive newbie but rather the strong, ambitious and adventurous girl that I had kept hidden from the world in fear of rejection.
A Job When I Return Home
When I handed my resignation in, the last thing that I ever expected was my bosses each personally offering me my job back when I return (if I return) from my adventure. This moment really opened my eyes and shed some light on myself. Perhaps I have always been a little too hard on myself and there is a possibility that I never give myself credit for things I deserve. That being said, I have always been a hard worker and strive to be someone who is fun, reliable and easygoing to work with. I learned quickly from all this that no matter what choices you make in life, people will respect you if you give them a reason to respect you.
Respect and Appreciation
While I must admit that I am blessed with wonderful bosses, there was always one boss who stood out as a bit domineering and, personally, I was intimidated by them. They only preferred to talk about work-related things while at work. However, once this person found out that I quit and for the reason as to why, I was greeted with the most unexpected support, respect and appreciation. This individual explained to me their story, their love for travel and the adventures they went on as a young adult. The first time I have ever heard a compliment come out of this particular person was this day. I was offered a job back by this person, and, for the fact being that I had always thought they did not care for me, this particular job offer meant much more to me than any other. After talking to this boss for over an hour about travel, my plans, their past adventures and more, I knew that the decision I made was the right decision and I no longer questioned whether quitting my job to travel the world was a fool’s move. I was even told by this boss that, if anything, my plans to travel the world will better my credentials and career. I did not quite understand why or how, nor am I still too certain, but this particular individual assured me that someday I will understand. These words have stuck with me throughout my travels thus far, and I will continue to hold them close.
The support and respect that I received from my fellow coworkers and bosses gave me the motivation I needed to pursue my dreams. While before I quit I was fearful, unsure and worried, once I took that big step and handed my letter in, the reaction I received was enough. Enough to put at ease the fears, the worries and the uncertainties of traveling and not working. When I expressed my concerns to my coworkers, they replied with motivating advice that kept me sure that this was the right decision. It appears that fate was on my side this time. Since I’ve been gone, I have not ever once thought to myself, “this was the wrong choice”. If my coworkers would have been scornful to me, I'm certain I would be questioning my decisions all the way through.
Perhaps one of the most important things that I did not expect to happen was the amount of friendships that I gained through the choice I made to quit my job and travel. My coworkers made it clear that they did not want to lose touch with me, and with the power of Facebook, it was easy to find a way to keep in contact. It is surprising how close to someone you can feel when keeping in touch with them on Facebook. I have been able to keep a connection with coworkers and even grow some friendships. It is truly surprising how much distance can make people closer and have the heart grow fonder. Their kind words spoken through social media has pushed me to keep trekking on around the world so far and will continue to as time goes on.
If you have always desired to do something that breaks the barriers of ‘social norm', then I say you do it! You might be surprised with the beautiful things life has to offer you. Jobs are waiting for you at home, money can be obtained when needed. But what is awaiting you out in this beautiful world? What memories and experiences are waiting for you to obtain? Never sell yourself short of your dreams because you deserve to live them just as much as the other person.
And now I find myself in Ireland. Why? I don't know why. All I know is my wanderlust led me here. My eyes are wide and my heart is open. I am in awe. And now I know that I am ready for whatever this beautiful and crazy world has to offer!
I have already experienced ups and downs and I am taking each one day by day and embracing the uncertainties of life.
What is my plan? I don’t really have one currently, and that is the beauty of living free!
Hi, my name is Lexie! I am passionate about photography and writing and enjoy using the two together in my blog Steps to Follow. I am a longtime lover of travel and adventure. I love spending my time outdoors hiking. I have recently quit my job so that I can dedicate more time to following my dream of exploring the world! I travel on a budget and I am always looking for the next best way to save money on the road. Follow me on this year's crazy adventure: Next stop: Mount Everest!