Jun 15, 2009

Is this brilliant self discovery? Or just a typical life crisis?

I'm looking around my apartment - at all the boxes scattered on the floor, at the piles of weird crap that have made their way out of closets and are demanding to be sorted, at the bags of things that were once “possessions” and are now “garbage” – and I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing.

In 17 days I'll be boarding a plane to Ecuador. My oldest sister and her boyfriend have been traveling through South America for months, and I'm joining them on last leg of their journey. For four weeks I'll hang out in jungles, goggle at the Andes, and visit with some big turtles and a few nasty bugs. It's an exciting trip, but nothing too life-altering. My employer even offered to give me a leave for twice as long. Who wouldn't want the ability to travel for a few months, and have some job security when they're done?

Me, apparently. I turned down the leave, turned in my notice on my job and apartment, and in 17 days I'll be unemployed and homeless and heading to a new continent. And perhaps it's a little late in the game, but I'm starting to ask myself why.

First off, I love my apartment. I mean, I really, really love it. It's in this older building and has a full kitchen - not one of those little galleys, but a big room with a door and everything. I have a fire escape with pots of herbs, hardwood floors, lots of light, and a Murphy ironing board. My living room looks great with shelves and shelves of books and old records. I have a sewing corner that I actually use, and framed artwork given to me by talented, arty friends. When my place is clean I just walk around it smiling.

And then I had this job. I've never aspired to any type of career,but I somehow found myself moving up in a corporate world, and getting paid pretty well for it. Making money to pay for my cool apartment. It was all too perfect.

Not perfect. Once the shiny protective coating started to wear off, I realized a few things about the life I was living. I didn't choose it, it just sort of happened while I wasn't paying attention. And it was a lifestyle that alternated between being incredibly stressful and mind-numbingly boring. Two states of being that I try to avoid at all costs had become my status quo. The kicker was that I wasn't even using the benefits of the job (ie, the money) to do things in my non-working life that I loved. I was just coming home to my amazing apartment, eating too much and watching downloaded tv shows.

It was about a year ago that I figured all that out, but I didn't leave. The velvet handcuffs had me, as my dad says. I spent a year getting more and more pissed off with myself for doing nothing to change anything about my life. Until finally, a few months ago, I up and quit. Maybe I'll talk about why later. Let's just say that it wasn't planned. Gave up my apartment, and emailed my sister to say I'd be down in July. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So why am I re-evaluating that decision now? Probably because I hate packing and this is just another way to procrastinate. Maybe also because people are making it way too easy for me to change my mind. Hey, my boss said, let us know when you're ready to come back. I know he means well. But while having no definable future is a little terrifying, the thought of finally having got the nerve to leave, only to come back to the exact same thing a few months later, makes me feel nauseous. Maybe that means I've made the right decision.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. It is intended to help keep me honest and on track. Just look at my last decade. You'll find plenty of scenarios where I've been in a similar mindset, only to backslide into the rat race. I want out. Hopefully this time it's for good. And hopefully keeping a regular and public record will keep me focused.

Wish me luck! Okay, first hurdle – packing up my books. My beautiful, comforting books. Sigh.


Jennifer said...

Good luck, Sarah! We just packed up our books yesterday - all 12 boxes of them. I admire your bravery! Have fun in South America. :)

sandyb said...

This was one of the best blog posts I've read all week - and I read a shit load. Seriously. Just a wonderful, inspiring and brave story. I'm glad we've connected, because I intend to follow this journey you're on. I face the same questions every day. Actually quit then, get this, UN-QUIT my job earlier this month. I have felt sick every day since. Was it worth it? I'm not discounting that the experience will give me something down the line, but so far, the paycheques or the work just. don't. do. it. for. me.

your story = amazing.

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