Pack your bags and get on that plane
Whenever people ask me about my life, so many of them are amazed at the fact that at 26 years old, I upped and left my home with just a suitcase and a backpack in tow. I took what few essentials I thought I needed, and I either gave away or left the rest behind. After the initial shock reaction I usually get, the questions start pouring in. How could I leave my family behind? Wasn’t I scared? Don’t I have a plan? How did I do it?
The answer is: I just did.
The reality is, life isn’t easy. Making decisions can be hard. In fact, it took me almost four years of saying I was going to leave before I actually did it. No one can ever really be ready for a big change. It’s just something that you choose to go through if you want or need it badly enough.
You see, I was stuck. For years I was living in a rut. I could feel myself slouching more and more because I’d wake up everyday wanting to melt into the ground and disappear. I had no purpose, no life meaning, no real reason to get out of bed every morning. It’s a pretty shitty way to live.
It was November of 2017, I was living in the Philippines at the time, and was working at a job that I hated. The days had started to blur. One would end, another would begin, and I was just floating by. My body felt like it was on autopilot. It went through my daily routine on its own accord, and I was miserable. The more I went on, the longer the days seemed, and the more I hated myself. I had been juggling the idea of quitting my job for months, but the thought of not having financial security was tying me down to it. It wasn’t until certain events happened at work that I decided I had had enough. I quit my job, I moved in with a friend, and I knew I needed a change.
Don’t get me wrong, I had said this many times before. This wasn’t the first time I had told everyone I was going to try to leave, I had been trying for the last four or so years and yet, was still in the same country, still had the same routine. This time though, I was ready. I was done making excuses. I was going to make an actual effort this time. So I went through my contacts, and remembered a friend of mine that was working abroad who had previously offered to try and help me get a job where he was. I contacted him to see if they had any openings, and even though they didn’t have an opportunity available until February the next year, I jumped at it. I sent my resume, got an offer, and six weeks later, I was on a plane flying to… Iraq.
Besides my little sister who had always told me to just “YOLO”, the rest of my family and friends all thought I was going crazy. I mean of all the places I could have chosen, I chose to go to Iraq. But I suppose when you feel hopeless about life, you’re prepared to do anything to feel like you’re living. And sitting here now, I would say it was possibly the best decision I had ever made. Leaving home, moving out, not knowing what was going to happen next - it changed everything. I have grown and lived so much in the last few months than I ever had in the last 26 years.
Don't get me wrong, it was hard. At times before I left, I would find myself staring off into space wondering if I was doing the right thing. What would happen to my dogs? Who's going to take care of them? What if my sister needs me? What if there's an emergency? But the more questions that went through my mind, the more I realised I needed to go. There will always be something that will hold you back. Doubt will always find a way to creep into your mind. Don't let it win.
I think the biggest learning I took away from all this was I’m not meant to be normal. I wasn’t meant to be living the “normal life” that my family and relatives were telling me I was supposed to have. You know, the kind of life where you make the long term friends in high school, and you go off to college and graduate, and get the 9-5 job, and you start dating someone who you’ll eventually get married to and buy a house and start a family. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of life, but I realised that it’s okay for it to not be my kind of life. I needed to stop trying to live the way other people were expecting me to live, and I needed to start paving my own path for myself. I had to accept that I was different than what my parents were expecting me to be, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.
With that being said, if there was any answer to how I did it, I just simply removed the noise, cut away the bullshit, said fuck it, and left.
So I challenge those of you that have been thinking about making that big change to analyse yourselves. What’s been stopping you? Do you have legitimate reasons for why you haven’t made the big move or are you really just copping out and making excuses for yourselves? You’ll never really be ready. Things will always be a little scary, but then again, is any dream worth having ever not scary at first? For once, have a little faith in yourselves. Take that chance. The only person stopping you from achieving anything is yourself. Remember that.