It’s now been 11 days since I ended my long term backpacking trip and came back to my life in Southern California.
The euphoria of coming back from travel is waning as expected, and it’s being replaced by the looming mountain of reality and responsibility that lies ahead. My 6 month journey was just part 1 of a huge chapter of change in my life. Part 2 is where I have to build up the job that I want from scratch, because I had originally quit my job with 2 goals in mind: To do the kind of travel I always wanted, and to have the job I always wanted: which is to work for myself.
The first goal is done, and that one was by far the easiest of the two. Now comes the hard part.
Today was the first day I really began to ‘appreciate’ how much work is ahead, and how different my life is now compared to when I left. Although everything looks the same in my world, I’m in a vastly different position.
Before I left I had a stable and comfortable job at a great company working as a Software Engineer. The pay was decent, the work life balance was great.
Now I have no job. The pay is non-existent, Mondays feel like Fridays, which feel like Saturdays and Sundays, there’s no difference. And there is no clear line between ‘work’ and ‘life’.
Before I left I could afford to have some bad habits in my life, because as long as I went to work for those 8 hours and did good work. I could just do whatever in the little remaining time I had.
Now every moment is time that I could be using to move closer to finding some success. I literally can’t afford to have bad habits.
Before I left by default I met people every day, I socialized albeit in the office environment, but still they were good human social interactions.
Now by default, I sit in my house and work on things, by myself, every single day.
Before I left I didn’t have to worry too much about spending money, because I knew I had paychecks coming in. If I got too lazy and didn’t want to cook I could just order out, if I wanted something I could just buy it for the most part.
Now I’m very aware that every dollar I spend is a dollar closer to going broke. I have to be very deliberate of how I spend the money I have because there is nothing refilling my bank account. I can’t just doordash that poke bowl anymore if I forget or don’t want to cook.
These are just a few of the ways in which my life is drastically different now. And as you probably have already discerned, these come with a lot of big challenges I need to face and pitfalls to be aware of in order to make it through in one piece:
- I have to make my own money with my own skills and knowledge.
- I have to draw my own lines between work and life and down time and work time, so I don’t go crazy in either direction.
- I can’t afford to succumb to bad habits.
- I have to make sure I don’t get isolated and lonely.
- I have to take meticulous care of my finances.
I am scared, and that’s not even the full list of challenges and potential pitfalls ahead. Now I wonder sometimes if I’m crazy to have voluntarily given up my old comfortable life for this instead.
But maybe the craziest part of it all is that I actually feel like I can do it. I feel like I’ve built a good foundation of habits, perspective and skills from my life and my travels, enough to pull this next big adventure off.
This will be a very interesting post to look back on.