I’ve grown up accepting that the 9 to 5 is just how things are done. I never imagined that there could be another option. Sure, there’s the entrepreneurial track, but that’s just a different role in the same machine.
But times have changed, and there are completely new paths available. I have taken the leap, and I am leaving behind everything I’ve ever known.
Am I a Millennial?
I come from a very interesting generation. I joke about “kids these days,” and I’ve never associated myself with millennials. I was a child of the 90s, well before the millennium.
I grew up with wired phones and TV Guides. I know what a stamp is and how to use a rotary phone, I blew in game cartridges to make them work, and I know a floppy disk is more than just a “save” icon. I witnessed the birth of the internet, laughed at all the Y2K worriers, and I was old enough to understand the ramifications of 9/11.
I was also raised to go to school, get a good job, and save up as much as I can for retirement.
But times changed
However, halfway through that plan came the millennial revolution. This idea of content creators, YouTubers, and Instagram influencers. The concept of actually making money from blogging or passive income streams. And a whole new world opened up in front of me.
Suddenly, I no longer have to subscribe to the idea that I must be chained to a desk for 40 hours a week in order to live. I can choose when I work and for whom – and from where! Full-time travel can be a reality.
But I also have my feet grounded in the stability of office work. I understand completely what that life offers and the holes leaving it would force me to fill on my own.
And perhaps it’s because of this knowledge that this is such a scary change for me.
Despite that, I’ve pulled the trigger. I’ve officially let go of all I’ve known to be safe and reliable, and I’m not looking back.
I’ve quit my life.
I am now jobless
Sure, I’ve been without a job before, but it was never really by choice. I’ve been fired and laid off. I have quit, too, but only because circumstances forced me to, and always with getting a new job as quickly as possible forefront in my mind.
Now, I haven’t left my job in order to seek another. I don’t have resumes and cover letters and interviews ahead of me (and for that I’m glad). I’m not in a mad panic over how to cover bills and where I’ll be accepted next.
However, I also no longer have a paycheck. That’s the tough one to swallow. I no longer have health insurance, life insurance, or any of the other benefits that come with working for a corporation. We have to figure all of that out on our own – pay for it all on our own.
And that’s terrifying.
Even when I’ve been without a job in the past, I’ve almost always had some other insurance to cover medical expenses – COBRA, parents’, etc. Now, we’re truly on our own.
We’ve fortunately saved up for this trip, so money isn’t as scary… yet. We’re working on that part.
I will soon be homeless
This part is terrifying, too!!
As a military brat, I’m no stranger to moving. I get what it takes to downsize, pack, move… but there’s usually another half to that: signing a new lease, moving in, unpacking, setting up.
To not have a place we can call our own goes against everything I’ve ever known. I’ve only been an official member of the workforce for about half of my life.
I’ve never not had a home.
Granted, we’re fortunate to have a bit of a crutch here. My parents live close-by, so we can stay with them to wrap up the remaining loose ends, and we have a permanent address we can use while abroad.
But we’re still getting rid of far more of our belongings than we would with a typical move, and we’re being as brutal as we can.
Almost none of the furniture is surviving. We just sold our dresser, even, so we’re officially living out of our suitcases! We had a big garage sale to clear out some of our stuff, but we still have so much more to purge.
It’s sad to see some of these things go after a decade or more of having them, but at the same time, it’s refreshingly cleansing to rid ourselves of excess stuff.
We are leaving Portland
This one’s tough. I love living in the Pacific Northwest, and I love this town. My military-brat legs are itching for a bit of change, but it’s hard to leave a place of which I’ve grown so fond.
This city has changed dramatically in the past 12 years I’ve been here (wow, has it really been that long??), but I’m still happy here. I love the hiking and photography opportunities, skiing, camping, beaches, etc. The area is verdant and beautiful, and it has an eclectic culture. I’m certainly going to miss it.
We’ve also met so many wonderful people here, and we’re leaving them, too. We trust they’ll continue to have amazing adventures without us, even if we can’t share in the stories afterwards.
We are leaving our kitties
Aw, but this one is even harder. Our kitties are our kids, and they are spoiled absolutely rotten. They know they have us wrapped around their little paws (me, especially), and we are happy to cater to their every mewling demand.
Fortunately, I know they will be in exceptional hands with my parents. Where do you think I learned how to spoil kitties?
Our big worry is the stress this large of a change will have on them. Not only is this a move (which is hard enough), but we’ll be moving into an already-established household with new people, another cat who’s already laid claim to the territory, and an excitable puppy who just wants to play with the little furry things.
On top of that, we’ll be leaving them behind. That’ll be a lot of change over a short period, and I’m certain they won’t be very happy about it.
Our Holee is also 17 years old. We have to face the very real possibility that we’ll be saying our final farewells to her when we leave. This absolutely breaks my heart to think about, and I can only hope for the best. She’s very healthy now, but the upcoming stress could prove difficult for her. On the other hand, she might be one of those 32-year-old cats, still purring away. There’s no way to know.
We’re mitigating this separation somewhat by bringing a little bit of our kitties with us. I had some of their fur spun into yarn, and I crocheted these adorable doppelgängers. They’ll be traveling the world with us, and they even have their own Instagram account! Find lots of cute fuzzy worldly pictures coming soon right here.
We are leaving our lifestyles
Everything that we have established as routine or “normal” will very quickly go away. We won’t have regular smiley box shipments from Amazon. We won’t (necessarily) have Friday night movies or Sunday morning shopping. We won’t have all the luxuries of our home, and we’ll have to accommodate. Laundry will be different; sleeping will be different; eating will be different.
We won’t be able to celebrate holidays with family as we’re used to. We will miss our first Christmas ever.
And we’ll have to be extremely cautious with our cash. Without income, every dollar saved is another day traveling, a slightly nicer lodging, or one more experience. No more fancy nights on the town or splurging on yet another camera lens. It’s a humbling adjustment.
But it will all be worth it
So why do it? Because change is good, and it’s healthy for the soul. Because the new experiences we’ll gain as a result will be invaluable. Because this world is full of too many spectacular things to simply settle.
We love traveling, and this is taking it to the extreme! We’ll meet new people and build brand new connections. We will witness different cultures and internalize new ways to solve problems that we couldn’t have even fathomed before. And we will see things that will completely change our outlook on life.
My dad thinks I actually am a millennial because I prize experiences over money and material things. Because I want the freedom to choose my own path and shape my own future outside the confines of a cubicle. Long-term travel isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with a dependable desk job. But that’s not where I want to be right now. Perhaps that does make me a millennial… it’s just taken me a long time to become one.
What big changes set your life on a new path?
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