For pretty much my entire life, I have played by the rules.
I always did what I was supposed to do. In high school I studied hard, never stayed out late, never broke any rules, and got into a good college. I wasn’t perfect by any means–I know for a fact I drove my parents crazy at times. (Ahem, summer before and after my freshman year college. Unpleasant teenager, anyone?)
While I might not have always been the most pleasant person to be around, I continued to chug along with what I was supposed to do. Study hard, get good grades, get a job. I had my first job out of college lined up months before I graduated, then the next one lined up, then graduate school (I was supposed to advance my career, after all, right?), then the next job where I was able to learn and grow more professionally. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I took those jobs–in fact I loved my last one–and went to graduate school. What I learned at each of them has been invaluable and has taught me a lot about who I am, my interests, and what I am capable of handling (which is more than I would have thought).
Then last year, after my now-husband proposed to me, he brought up the idea of traveling extensively for awhile after we got married. Of course my initial reaction was unh unh, no way. Quit my job and travel for several months? I can’t do that, how irresponsible of me!
And then I thought about it a little more, and the idea slowly started to sound not only feasible, but more and more appealing. After all, I had always played by the rules and now was my chance to take a risk and do something I secretly had always wanted to do but, being the rule-follower I am, never thought I would.
So we did it: we quit our jobs (of course, I gave my boss 11 months notice) and we traveled around South America for five months. And it was AWESOME! It wasn’t picture-perfect everyday–in fact, sometimes I found constantly being on the go in countries where I often didn’t know anyone other than my hubby, didn’t know where anything was, and having to almost always communicate in Spanish to be downright exhausting at times, much more so than being at home, comfortable in my job and everyday life. But I am so glad I did it–I got to see and do things I would have otherwise never done, and I learned so much more about who I am. I learned I was capable of things I would have never imagined. I hiked (and I HATE hiking), I worked on a farm and herded sheep, I did manual labor, I lived in the jungle for a week with some huge and pretty frightening bugs that actually didn’t scare me that much (minus the bullet ants which supposedly have the most painful bite that lasts for hours, and the little flies that carry flesh-eating bacteria, both of which I thankfully managed to avoid), I took some of the most terrifying rides of my life and lived to tell the tale, and I even went hang-gliding, much to my parents’ chagrin (don’t worry, I didn’t tell them until after I had done it).
Now that I am back from that incredible journey, I find myself at a crossroads. I had figured that when I returned I would look for a job that would continue me down the career path I have been on, because that is the sensible, responsible thing to do.
But secretly, I don’t want to return to work. I want to “break the rules” that I somehow set for myself and run my own business jewelry business (which, I should mention, has nothing to do with my previous jobs or what I studied in school).
What, sell jewelry? That’s crazy!
Of course, I realize I can return to work and try having a jewelry business. However, if I am going to try a business then I really want to devote my energy to it, which is hard to do when you start a new full-time job. And if I start a new job, then I want to devote my energy to that. I’m sorry, I can’t half-ass things, it’s not in nature.
So what to do?
Well, I’m not sure yet. Do I continue to follow by the rules, taking a job that takes me down the road I have been working towards, or do I this opportunity to continue down that unpaved path I found myself briefly diverted to when I broke the rules by quitting my job to travel? That remains to be seen.