When I got laid off towards the end of 2012, I reached the first time in my life when I just stopped and thought, “I don’t have a clue what I am going to do now!” That idea would usually make me a bit nervous but at the time I found that it brought a slow smile to my face, despite trying to fight it. I was feeling a sense of freedom that I had never felt before! Up until that point in my life I had always been confined to the limits of high school, then college, then the military, and finally the dream-killing-glass-plant from whence I came… haha. But I was truly free at last; free to rise to the limits of my dreams! … and free to fall if I wasn’t careful.
As I mentioned in the last blog post, things had been simmering to a slow boil with my girlfriend at the same time. It didn’t take long for things to finally fizzle out (rather dramatically and draggingly as those things sometimes go), and before I knew it I had no confines or obligations to be in Houston at all! To this day, I still have some amazing friends and family in Houston and I am determined to visit them again someday … but at the time I needed to get as far away as possible.
The next step wasn’t glamorous. With no job and a desperate need to game plan, I left my pride in Texas and rescinded back to the loving arms of my parents (Phoenix, AZ). I left rather hastily and spur of the moment, (the only way to travel!) and after 16hrs, 3 States, 1 flat tire, and lots of coffee I drove my car into my parents’ driveway. I would stay in Phoenix for the next 3 months.
During those three months I did a lot of soul-searching & a little job-searching. I was disheartened at the concept of going back to a 9-5 job and I certainly wasn’t in the mood to start another career. “Careers are just so… permanent,” I would think. In my post at the start of this site, To the hidden adventurer, I address much of my thought process during those times. My parents were extremely supportive but when it was all said and done, I just couldn’t live with myself if I was still living there after 6 months.
In the end, I decided that I was going to Europe. I had studied abroad south of Paris once before (back in college) and I had always told myself that I would go back to Europe eventually. And so it was, that the more I thought about traveling the less I could think of anything else. My desire to travel and gain control of my life was far more exceeding in will power than the spark of logic in the back of my head. Whether it was lack of judgement, responsibility, or logic didn’t matter to me at the time. And that’s all it took to nudge me out the door!
I bought a flight before I really had a plan. All I really knew was that I was going to spend 89 days backpacking alone through Europe (due to visa restrictions, Americans must leave the “Schengen” zone after 90 days). To some degree, I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and force myself to feel something real again. With extended periods of pointless living came boredom, and with boredom came apathy, and with apathy I found myself balancing on the fringe of depression.
Traveling became my saving grace and it opened my eyes to the world around me! It made me feel more alive than I have ever felt before and it reinforced a certain confidence and adventure in me that I had lost previously. Most importantly though, I came out the other end as the person I wanted to be in life!