Today we have a very special treat. An old college of friend of mine (and a magchunk reader!) has agreed to write a four-post guest series this summer all about her crazy/exciting/gutsy/enviable plans.
Do you ever daydream about leaving your uninspiring job and exploring the world (even if it's just your own backyard)? Do you long for time to reflect on yourself, what you've learned and where you've been? Do you want to spend time searching for the truth, simplicity, and beauty of the world? So does Amber. Here's the beginning of her journey:
I have been looking forward to this summer since Christmas. I was going to Africa, to live and volunteer there, have a life-changing experience, and get lots of pictures with locals for my Facebook page. But then, I wasn't. After months of preparation, my trip fell through. I had already given my notice at my job, broken my lease, scrimped to save, and blabbed to everyone about my big plans. But the organization I was working with wouldn't return emails and I found myself a month from departure with no trustworthy leads. I had to call it off. I was devastated, embarrassed, and disappointed. For a day. Then I was extremely relieved. How funny! I realized that I was trying to force this idealistic illusion of what I should be doing, what I should want, and it just wasn't true. (I blame college.)
What killed me, being the little control freak I am, was that when I let go of this fantasy, I didn't have a plan to replace it. I still had no job or shelter lined up, but I did have a little travel fund socked away. What would I do with myself until August when I'd start my new job? Once I rejected the notion that my plans had to be grand and boastful, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my summer.
Enticed by deeply discounted airfare, I sketched out a trip to visit friends and sightsee in Chicago, New York, Boston and D.C. If I timed it right I could then join my boyfriends' family vacation, attend several summer weddings, and spend unrushed, quality time with friends and fam in the Northwest. Everything fell into place quite seamlessly. I found myself more excited for my scaled-down adventure than the original.
The only hole in my summer was three weeks of total free time between my last day of work and my first flight. What a lovely problem to have! I made a To-Do list featuring items such as volunteering at my county’s food bank, studying for the GRE, tango lessons, and baking a layer cake. This will be a time for things I always said I’d do later, a time to pursue joy and self-discovery without obligation. If I look back in 10 years and lament that I never slowed down to smell the roses, or take up tango, I have no excuse.
I am blessed to have a job at the end of this adventure, but I didn’t have that security when I took the first leap. I just knew I wasn’t happy where I was and I was compelled to fly on. All the pieces eventually fell into place, as they tend to do despite our efforts to painstakingly control every step of the journey. I am still learning how to gracefully accept the difference between my plans and the eventual reality. Especially if that reality includes sleeping in, revisiting loved ones, and savoring every crumb of cake.
Hooked? Read Amber's blog to hear the day to day adventures. And she'll be back later this summer to report from the Midwest as she makes her way across the country!
Photo from thisisglamourous. Other photo from Amber.