Breaking The Mold..

By Posted in - Featured Post & Pre Trip & Travel Resources on June 21st, 2010

Whew, in about 8 weeks we are finally off to see the world. It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable. It’s really almost overwhelming. This trip has been planned for about 3 years now.

I almost can’t believe it’s happening.

The fact that it is becoming a reality is actually making me nervous. But why? This is my dream. This is the one thing I have had throughout all the ups & downs in the past few years. This trip has made me happier than pretty much anything else but it has also made me more emotional and more upset than anything as well.

Which, when I started planning my “bunnies & rainbows” idea of the trip, was not something I expected. I didn’t expect the almost daily reminder that this is the “right thing” to do, the constant self battle of wondering “I am screwing up my life in a horrible way?” “Is 34 too old to do something like this?”  “Will I ever be able to financially support myself, have a family and still live the life I dream about?”

Holy crap, I serious never expected any of that.  Several years ago one of my dearest, oldest (we’ve known each other since we were 12) and best friends in the world said something that resonated with me.

“You can’t just live life, you have to live YOUR life.”

I always remembered those words because they are simple, yet so true. It’s something most people ignore – the calling of your own life. I know, deep inside, this is what I am supposed to be doing and, come hell or high water, I am going to do it.

Breaking the mold sucks though. Especially at 34. Everyone expects you to travel in your 20’s, not your 30’s and for obvious, good reasons like kids & saving for retirement. Breaking away from that is hard. You have nothing to defend your choice except for the gut feeling that this is what you should be doing.

Defending your choice to others is easy, defending it to yourself is another thing entirely.

But I know there is something for me on the road. I don’t know what it is but I know it exists. Everything in my life has been pushing me in this direction. Random people have come into my life that have pushed me towards this. First there was Andrea who had just spent 4 months bouncing around Southeast Asia, then there was my coworker Rich who had just returned from a 10 month RTW with his wife. Last but not least was Ryan, who was a really great friend of mine that I met on Craigslist of all places and NO it was not on a personals ad. We met up one night in Mission Beach, we went out for drinks and became insta-friends. I mean how stupid is it for a girl to go around befriending someone on Craigslist  and then actually meet them and hang out with them? Stupid! But we had a great friendship that lasted for years. Ryan was probably my biggest push because he was pretty much a perma traveler, having moved to San Diego after 3 years traveling around the world. Now he lives in Indonesia. He was like a real life version of everything I had read about online. Before these friendships, I had never met anyone that had traveled long term before. But there they came marching into my life, one after the next, proving to me that it was possible and awesome to travel long term.

I use to work all the time, 10 – 12 hour days, in real estate which was extremely stressful. It’s a really horrible way to live. In my opinion, it isn’t even a life. It’s just a routine.

Then when I was 31 I was diagnosed with cancer. I learned early on that working all the time is really unhealthy. The diagnosis delayed the original trip leave date (which bummed me out to no end at the time) but it was a blessing in disguise because it gave me even more courage to get out and follow my dreams. I got the not so subtle tap on the ass that said “This is not the way you are supposed to be living.” Some people go their entire lives without realizing that.

But because my body was revolting in a very literal way, I figured out pretty quick that the way I was living wasn’t going to work for me and in hindsight, that was a bonus.  Also whenI got sick I did what ever sick person does but knows they shouldn’t do – I Googled it. I Googled everything and anything about thyroid cancer. Googling an illness is really a double edged sword because for the 1% of good information you find there is a ton of crap that will just scare the shit out of you. However, in my case the 1% was worth it because I made internet friends with a guy in England who was battling leukemia. Adrian Sudbury was a really amazing person who had a huge impact on my life in a very strange, almost spiritual way. Although he is no longer with us and we never actually met in person, through our brief emails and my bizarre dreams, he pushed me towards the trip in a strange round about way as well.

I do believe we are all connected by a single thread and that things happen for a reason. I know I’m supposed to be traveling but yet with all of the things that have happened and all of the people who have influenced me I still find it hard to take the leap.

Even though I can see right through it, walking away from the ideals created by our normal ways of life is still tough.

I didn’t expect that with everything else, I would be my own stumbling block to changing my own life.

I am pretty sure that I am going to be doing a good, fair share of tear shedding over the next few weeks as we get ready to depart. This morning I cried in the car over the idea of leaving my baby little Chachy behind. But he’ll be happy with my sister, she has a house with a yard and a lot of sunlight. Right now he’s sleeping in a hand bag while I type this at Borders because we don’t have a real apartment and the campground doesn’t have electricity. He’s such a great little dog, no one here even knows he’s in there. He’ll be happy when he has some stability. Hopefully I’ll be happy when I have none.

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(25) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Adam -

    June 21, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Fantastic post, Beth. Love it. It’s true how difficult it is to convince yourself that this is the right thing to do even though all you really have to go by is a feeling. We may try to dismiss that as not enough to make such a drastic, life changing decision, but isn’t that what we’ve always been taught to do? When all else fails, we should trust that one thing that usually comes through for us–our gut. You know deep down that this is the right thing to do, this is what you’ve been dreaming about for years. Sure, you’re going to have your doubts along the way, especially so close to your departure date, but all that planning, that reading, that communicating with others, all of that has been preparing you.

    And I can tell you from personal experience, that day you leave is going to be crazy emotional. All the feelings you’ve been feeling since you started planning this adventure will come flooding in in an even more powerful way, and it’s going to be hard, saying good bye to loved ones and taking off not knowing how the next chapter in your life is going to play out. It’s a scary thing. But once you touch down in that first destination, the excitement will take over, and you’ll hit the ground running, and you’ll have the best experience of your entire life. Once it begins, you’ll know for sure that you made the right decision because your gut will be telling you so. And you’ll sit back and laugh at how nervous you were.

    Have so much fun and enjoy these last few weeks at home. I’ll be eagerly watching.
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..One Month In-The Roller Coaster Ride Continues =-.

    • bethany -

      June 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

      HI Adam!

      You and I are totally in the same spot with working! Thanks so much for writing – I hope I can keep up posts on the road that were as great as yours! @Adam,

  • Adventurous Kate -

    June 21, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Great post, Beth. I had no idea you battled cancer…congrats for being a strong survivor!

    I’m at the same point as you right now, travel-wise, and going through many of the same emotions. It’s SO scary but SO exciting!! There are times when I get terrified and realize how easy it would be to stay put in Boston, but I *know* that if I don’t travel, I will severely regret it for the rest of my life. Taking the plunge is the hardest part.

    And if you end up in Southeast Asia between October and May…let’s meet up! 😉

    This is the only life we’ve got. LIVE THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED. 🙂
    .-= Adventurous Kate´s last blog ..Travelers’ Night In — Hotels and Hostels! =-.

  • Erica -

    June 21, 2010 at 9:02 am

    If it helps, just know that you have online cheerleaders and support rooting for you!

    There are a few things that I completely understand and run through my head on a daily basis but from a 27 year old’s point of view:

    Should I be focusing on a career?
    Should I be starting a family soon (if I want to start one at all)?
    Are my parents right? Am I just nutso for doing this?

    The fact that you beat cancer and did not let it get you down is inspiring. There are so many people who just lose hope after something like that – believe me, I know a few.

    The scariest thing for me is waking up and realizing that I was waiting for life to happen to me. It was that day that I decided to make an effort to get things done MY way “To hell or high water!” and it seems as though you are in the same place. Its always scary to make the jump and I’m sure when it gets closer to departure time I will be weepy. <3
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..3 Month Progress Report =-.

    • bethany -

      June 22, 2010 at 10:36 am

      Thanks Erica! It does help knowing that
      I’ve got
      you as a bad ass cheerleader rooting for me!@Erica,
      .-= bethany´s last blog ..Breaking The Mold. =-.

  • corina -

    June 21, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Beth, this post reminds me so much of the emotions I went through before we left for our trip last year. People ask me how we did it…how could I at 39 years old, in the midst of my design career…sell my house and leave everything and everyone behind. I just would laugh and say “just don’t think about it too much!”. Well, it is inevitable that we, as emotional beings, will think about life changing things a lot and I ended up having at least 2 major breakdowns and many crying fits before we eventually left Canada.

    Hang in there! It is definitely worth it. Seriously worth it!

  • Anthony -

    June 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Beth I am so excited for you. You have inspired me to go after what I want in life. I loved reading this post.

  • Jonathan Evans -

    June 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I think it’s natural that you are going to be a little anxious about such a trip, but as someone who, at age 37, left “it all behind” (six-figure consulting job in Switzerland etc) 18 months ago I can tell you that not for one instant will you regret it once you start. You’ll soon realise that the trip will allow you to focus on the important stuff in life. Your concerns and worries that you have now, will simply fade away and things will be put into real perspective.

    I wrote my own thoughts on the matter last week – http://www.gringostarr.net/posts/2010/06/592-days/ Good Luck!
    .-= Jonathan Evans´s last blog ..Drinking in Paraguay – Today’s Photo =-.

    • bethany -

      June 22, 2010 at 10:38 am

      Thanks Jonathan – It’s good to know that you’ve done something similar without regrets!@Jonathan Evans,

  • Nancie (Ladyexpat) -

    June 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    You’ll be fine. Congratulations on doing what the majority only dream about on their daily commute. This world will still be here should you decide to return 🙂
    .-= Nancie (Ladyexpat)´s last blog ..Friday’s Talking Photo # 16 — Pura Besakih –Bali’s Mother Temple =-.

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    June 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    You can do it! It’s time, Beth 🙂

  • Leigh -

    June 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Living in the present is the best way way to live and a fight with cancer in your thirties has a way of putting everything in perspective. Who cares what other people think is the best time to travel? This is your life so Carpe Diem and have a blast.

    A particularly good post since it seems to be coming from your heart.

    And if you make it to Vancouver I can guarantee you a warm bed and a hot shower.

    • bethany -

      June 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

      Awww. Leigh – that is so sweet of you! I have always wanted to visit Vancouver so I just might take you up on that! Thanks 🙂 @Leigh,

  • Barbara Weibel -

    June 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Wow – you could have been in my head, writing down my thoughts. I can’t believe how similar our stories are, right down to the real estate and a debilitating disease that finally set me on my intended path. However, you might be encouraged by the fact that I did it at 54!. You’re never too old to pursue your passions and you’ll find lots of others out there traveling in your age bracket. As for the anxiety part – well, that’s normal. As long as I have been doing this, I am still a bit anxious each time I set off. Takes me about 2 weeks to settle into the travel rhythm. If you weren’t nervous, then I’d be worried. You’ll have a wonderful time, I’m sure.
    .-= Barbara Weibel´s last blog ..Palenque Ruins of Chiapas are a Mystical, Magical Wonder =-.

    • bethany -

      June 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Thanks Barbara. Seriously just reading these comments from people who have done the same thing makes such a huge difference for me! @Barbara Weibel,

  • beersandbeans -

    June 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    testing comments – sorry everyone for the blank emails! I am trying to fix this now. I love all your comments and I will reply when I get this figured out. 🙂

  • Keith -

    June 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    You are on the brink of doing something few can or have the means to do. Yes, it is a difficult time. There’s a kind of death involved here, that of your former life. It should be remembered well. But there is new life too, and that should be celebrated. Congratulations!
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..Middlewoods =-.

    • beersandbeans -

      June 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Keith,
      Thanks for chiming in Keith!
      You are right – this does need to be celebrated!@Keith,

  • Jessica Skelton -

    June 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Good luck on your travels. You are truly an inspiring woman, and I hope what you are looking for on the road and more! Can’t wait to read more!

  • Sonya -

    June 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Beautiful, thoughtful post! Inspiring words and images as always. Be inspired!
    .-= Sonya´s last blog ..Castle Hotels Of Ireland =-.