I’ve taken it light this week to try and get myself set up in Eugene, OR. A few days ago I had a birthday, and it reminded me of something I used to tell myself.
When I was living in Tahoe the winter after I got out of USC, I realized that I had more direction than to be a cocktail waitress at a restaurant just to ski, bike, hike, boat, and enjoy the loveliness that is Tahoe. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but luckily I had the foresight at 22 to see that, for me, if I didn’t get out after that first winter, there was no telling when I’d leave. After all, I had made friends who had been there five years and had no direction for anything different. And I did.
I knew I wanted to write, and at the time I wanted to write travel adventure. Just like Tim Cahill, whose writing I had just recently discovered in a box of old Outside magazines. As I made my way over to San Francisco—with no money, and no job—I told myself that each year I wanted to make enough progress in my life, that when I had my next birthday, I wasn’t in the same spot I was the year before. Spot not necessarily being defined by a geographic landmark.
More so, that if I wanted to be a travel writer, what was I going to do so that when I turned 23, I wasn’t only a nanny making a living so that I could remain in SF. And that at 24, was my internship at Travelers’ Tales giving me the experience that I needed to become a contributor to their books, and not just a lackey mail opening assistant.
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I didn’t think about this daily, nor did I have the determination or ambition to fight the cause on a daily basis. But I did check in with myself and question my choices as I moved forward.
So, now that I’ve turned 31, I can look back and see that my path has been true and at it’s own pace. Now what? Do I abandon the one-year plan and think in five or ten year increments? Or in the moment of today’s immediate decisions, is it realistic for me to choose a 6 month living situation based on how much progress or work I can get done in it? Do I have the time and luxury to wait for more options that would fit from an emotional and guttural level? I made this move to Oregon so that I could get my work done, but I was thinking in terms of assignments, not progress in life. If I get my work done these next few months, I will definitely have built my name that much more, but are my goals still just about writing?
I don’t really feel any older than I did last month, but I feel like I’ve learned mountains about myself since last year. This weekend I need to decide on an apartment and get down to business, but in the coming months I’ll also start thinking about how to make progress in my other life goals–like seeing more of the world, choosing a place that I can really call home, and connecting with a partner who makes it all worth while. Knowing that my life needs balance that can’t be bought through time or by checking off assignments, it’ll be interesting to see what process takes the place of simple determination. From everything that I’ve learned this far in life, it’ll have to be 3 parts trial and error, 3 parts trust in life, and 1 big solid dose of faith. Bring it on!