Coming To Terms With Life Change

by Kim on March 23, 2011 · 51 comments

Traveling Couples: When One Wants It More

Kim’s note: Anybody in a long-term relationship knows that relationships, even happy ones, are tough work.  When two people set out to build a life together they take an extrodinary leap of faith.  The truth is, we can never really know what tomorrow will bring. 

If you read this blog regularly it probably isn’t much of a surprise to hear that this quitting-our-jobs-and-traveling thing is my dream.  A few readers have asked to hear Brian’s point of view.  Specifically, how hard was it for him to get on board with this drastic change of lifestyle when it wasn’t exactly what he signed up for?  

So, this post is written by Brian.  Enjoy.   

Coming to terms with a huge life change

A few people have asked how I feel about our decision to quit our jobs and travel the world.  I have thought about that question a lot and figure that there are probably quite a few people who are in the same or similar situations.  I thought I would share my thoughts and the process I went through and am still going through. 

First thing’s first – It wasn’t like Kim had to talk me into traveling.  I have always wanted to travel.  Road trips around the U.S. and Canada, hiking the Appalachian Trail (or Pacific Crest Trail), a 3-month tour of western Europe, etc. was what I had planned.  Other than that it was 2-4 week vacations every year or two after that until retirement.  But quitting our jobs and traveling the world?  That was a whole different level that I wasn’t prepared for.

For those of you that don’t know me, I am drawn to the natural world and continuously amazed by it.  I see a tree growing over a boulder and I am awed by the adaptability of the tree.  Mountain lions evolved to have their canine teeth spaced the exact same distance as the distance between an elk’s vertebrae – this amazes me to no end. 

So naturally I would seek out a profession that allows me to continue to explore the natural world, right?  Right.  I spent my first year of college at West Virginia University studying to become a park ranger.  I quit after one year.  Here is what I told myself: I didn’t really want to be a park ranger; That being a naturalist is a great hobby, but not something to make a living at.  Here is the truth: it was the first time I stepped outside of my comfort zone and it scared me so much that after one year I left WVU and transferred to Ohio University to live in the same building as my best friend and become a political science major.  My point: new and challenging things are not exactly my forte.  I prefer gradual change.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Fast forward 12 years

Kim and I are married, we have good jobs, own our house, etc.  We talk about traveling the world, but in the way you talk about big plans that you never expect to come true.  Like, “Let’s move to France and start a vineyard” or “How cool would it be to start an octopus farm?” 

But, as most things go, the more you talk about something, the more it becomes reality.  Our discussions gradually moved from the ever-distant “one day” to the ominous “when.” 

That was when I realized Kim was serious.  I was still in the octopus farm stage while she was developing a savings plan spreadsheet, creating packing lists, and researching the best three-day stops on the Trans Siberian railroad.  

For a little while, I really didn’t know what to do.  Part of me was excited for the adventure.  Part of me felt like I had misled my wife.  Part of me thought our plans were to start a family.  Part of me was concerned about how to care for and protect my wife in places I’d never even imagined visiting.  Part of me really wanted a drink. 

To say I was conflicted would be an understatement

So what did I do?  For a while I simply ignored it.  As any procrastinator or avoider can tell you, this does not help anything.  After a while I realized this was a pattern in my life – when confronted with a difficult situation, I shied away from the problem in the hope that it would go away.  But this was different.  I couldn’t ignore this.  This wasn’t just my problem or my issue – it was Kim’s dream. 

What could I do?  The way I saw it, I had two options: crush my wife’s dreams and tell her that I didn’t want to do it or swallow my own fears and reservations and help her live her dream. 

Well, as you know by now, I chose option number 2.  Why did I choose this?  Of course I am excited for the adventure and seeing the world and I know that this is a once in a lifetime thing that I will never have the chance to do again.  But I didn’t make my decision based on me or what I want.  More than anything else, I made the decision to help Kim live out her dream because I believe in her.

You see, I made the decision to not follow what I truly wanted to do in this life.  I let my dream of becoming a park ranger slip though my fingers because I couldn’t overcome my personal obstacles.  I am not going to let the same thing stop Kim’s dream.    

I have not yet found what can replace my old dream, but I am still looking.  I’m not giving up and I know one day I will find it.  Right now it’s about doing everything I can to support Kim’s dream.

Kim knows what she wants to do in life and what she was put here for.  Who am I to stop that?  She is not only willingly giving up a comfortable life to pursue what she truly wants to do, but she’s also pushing her husband to do it with her.  I know I have,  no I want, to help her achieve this.  I have to help her overcome obstacles, not put more in the way.

Now, I can’t say that I have completely come to terms with quitting our jobs and being a citizen of the world for god knows how long.  That day probably won’t arrive until we are already on the road.  For now, it’s about preparing for that time.  Once we leave?  Who knows what will happen? 

That’s the terrifyingly exciting part.