There is a line in a Bob Dylan song that captures the way I feel about the past few years of my life:
I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.
I’m the oldest child, a worrier, used to caretaking. I graduated college young, married young, and started my career when my peers were nowhere near settling down. When many of my friends went through a mini-crisis about turning 30 my only thought was finally. I felt I’d been there a long time already.
Order and responsibility make me feel comfortable so I never was unhappy about my natural role. But I had a carefree and creative side that was often stifled by the sense of responsibility I felt to follow all of the rules.
Before Brian and I started this trip I worried about a million things. I worried that I would worry so much about spending our savings that I wouldn’t enjoy myself. I worried that I would lose my shit when things didn’t go as expected. I worried I would regret leaving my career, that I would hate living out of a backpack, that I would be grumpy and mean and feel out of control. It’s the reason I wrote my 10 commandments.
But I have been surprising myself. When our car died in Asheville I didn’t lose my cool. I called Brian and he identified the problem and I called AAA. I did only what I could do. I was surprised that I shrugged my shoulders and said well, I guess it’s just part of the adventure. I realized that, no matter how often things go awry, I’m accomplishing what I set out to do.
I am proud that I stoked that little spark of truth that asked for more into a flame. More life, more adventure, more time doing what I love. I am proud that I recognized that this part of me needed attention and that I followed through on giving it.
Brian and I play this little game where one of us asks what day is it? and the other will say Monday or Thursday or whatever day it really is and then we giggle like children do when they have done something mischievous. Every day feels like a little blessing now.
The process of getting here was scary and stressful and sad and I wondered thousands of times if we were making the wrong decision. I wondered if we would regret it. I worried I’d lost my mind completely.
But here is what I want you to know. I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you, look you in the eyes and tell you this: If there is something that you feel deep in your bones that you need to do please do it. Overcoming everything: the fear, the stress, and the worry is your opportunity to prove to yourself and the universe that you really want what you know in your heart you want. All of the turmoil, and there will be turmoil, is worth it when you step into the life you know you were meant to live.
I know that Brian and I have months and even years of living this dream ahead of us. I know there will be bad days and major failures. But this is what I have learned: Starting is the hardest part. And the starting doesn’t begin when you step on the plane for a faraway land or open that door to the business you’ve dreamed of opening.
The starting starts on the day when you wake up and refuse to live another minute of a life that doesn’t make you all the way happy. The starting starts when you drag that little tingle of a dream out of the dusty corners of your soul, shake it off and say “Thank you for staying with me all of these years. It’s your turn now.”
You will get started in your own time, and before you get started there will be so much anxiety and fear that you will believe that you can’t possibly do it. You can. And when you do, I’m speaking from experience here, you will have not a single regret.
Me, happy and hiking in Yellowstone National Park.