GUEST POST: While I am on the road this week and exploring Madrid, I’ve arranged for some of my favorite travel bloggers to share their travel stories and advice here. So enjoy, give our guest bloggers lots of love and be sure to check out the author’s site.
Admit it: some of you are crazy with envy. You log in to Almost Fearless from your cubicle, hoping your boss doesn’t catch you because you should be preparing a monthly report or making cold calls to boost sales.
It’s okay. I understand. When I worked 9-to-5 in a job I detested, I regularly suffered insane bouts of jealousy just thinking about people I saw in the park while I schlepped from one meeting to another. Why didn’t those people have to work?! How did they pay rent?! I assumed they led amazing lives, free of worries and full of fun.
That was before I quit my job.
A few months back, I received an e-mail from someone who read an article I’d written about how to ditch the 9-to-5 life. Joe, a recent college graduate, had taken a job as a debt collector to pay off his own school loans, but he confessed that he was sure he was slowly dying—already—of corporate boredom and anxious dread about his own professional future. He wrote:
I literally hate, nay, despise every single aspect of [my job]. I hate that I have to be up by 6am, I hate that I have to drive 45 minutes, I hate that I have to work 9- 10 hour days, I hate that I have to wear a shirt and tie EVERYDAY even though all I do is sit on the phone, I hate the people, I hate the fact that the only time I see the sun is on lunch break and weekends because I’m up and AT WORK before sunrise, and I don’t leave until after dark… The pay sucks….it’s just…not what I’m meant to do.
I answered by asking Joe if he had a dream, and he said he did. But he was convinced that dozens of obstacles existed that stood in the way of exiting the cube and pursuing the dream. I told Joe he didn’t need to exit the cube in one dramatic departure, like I did, and that my life was, contrary to popular belief, quite ordinary.
He didn’t believe me. My life was so cool, and before our correspondence fizzled out, he’d developed a fantasy about my life that sounded, well, just dreamy.
When folks like myself, Christine, and her husband take the leap and pursue the dream, lots of people think that life changes completely. Somehow, because we are living outside the cube, everything else in our life also changes: we suddenly don’t have to pay bills, we become immune to the tragedies and sadnesses of life, whatever character flaws we have disappear, and we spend our days emanating an aura of utter coolness, our only worry collecting one more stamp in our passports.
But if my life is so cool, why do I feel like I need a cold drink and a good fan?
Don’t get me wrong. Since I kissed my 9-to-5 job good-bye, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and when I say every day since has been extraordinary, I mean it. But my dog still poops and I still have to pick it up. People I love still get hurt (my husband slipped in the bathtub and got 11 stitches while I was away in Mexico), still divorce, still die. I’m still clumsy, I still can’t dance, and I still can’t balance a checkbook. In other words, the mundane and the downright yucky stuff about living do not simply disappear when you decide to live your dream.
It’s hard, when you’re in the cube, to think that the dream life you see someone else pursuing is anything other than cool. If you’re suffering from ennui and envy this week as Christine and her husband settle in Madrid, just think about this: The dogs probably crapped in their crates on the transatlantic flight, the landlord probably forgot to deliver the key to their new apartment, the lights probably haven’t been turned on yet, and they’re probably eating cereal because they don’t know where the market is.
In other words, the cool life is… quite normal.
About the Author:
Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator who lives in New York, Mexico City, and San Juan. She has a BA in English and Women’s Studies, a Masters of Social Work, and is working on a PhD in Literature at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. You can find her online at Collazo Projects.
Photo (top): Stoichiometry