“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
– Walt Whitman
I often think of a scene from the show “House of Cards” where Frank is talking with Remy. Frank reminds Remy of the famous Winston Churchill quote that:
“….to improve is to change. To perfect is to change often.”
I am a big fan of change. Personally, change has always been synonymous with growth. My biggest leaps forward have always come right after I stepped sideways. Heartbreak and the end of relationships made me emotionally stronger and more adept at what I want in a partner. My parents divorce, while crushing, forced me to become a man. My decision to move to Korea forever changed how I see the world.
Each and every one of the above mentioned situations, when they were happening, were hard. I did not think about how I was learning or growing or seeing the world in a completely different light. I longed for my ex. I wanted my family back together. I wanted to be home for the holidays. Change is hard.
It is only now, many years later, that I am able to see how these changes brought me from where I was to where I am now.
For me the recipe is simple. Change equals growth. The more we try and the more we explore – the more we learn.
As humans, there is a part of us that craves the familiar. Routine and structure give us purpose. But is what we find familiar what really what is best for us? How much of what we do is simply done because the alternative option is more difficult?
When is the last time that you made a change? A time when you purposely put yourself into an uncomfortable position to do something that you could feel you did not want to do?
I am giving it all up. This blog, my digital marketing business, my wine-filled life in Buenos Aires. For the next six weeks I will be backpacking, camping and trekking through Patagonia. I will leave my computer and most of my unessential possessions with friends in Buenos Aires and hit the road. I have no plan. Just my backpack, camping gear and cash. I am making a change.
To be clear, I will come back. Just like the homie Bing Crosby, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. This is not a permanent change in my way of living. More a temporary chance to challenge and refresh.
Practically speaking, this decision makes very little sense. I am just starting to turn a corner with my freelance digital marketing business. I will walk away from clients I enjoy working with and have already turned down numerous work opportunities. I have just launched this blog and I am receiving a lot of positive feedback. It is as motivated as I have been to write in some time. I am living in a city I love (Buenos Aires) and have been fortunate to meet an incredible group of friends. It is because of it’s impracticality that this decision appeals to me.
So why go?
One, because it will be fun. Two, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t.
When I started this blog, I told myself I would attempt to write from a place of complete honesty. All editing and clever prose aside, it has always been a bit easier for me to find my voice from the comforts of a keyboard. My hope is that my rawness will allow people to listen to what I am saying and put their own guard down a bit. By peeling back my skin, hopefully others are able to become a little more comfortable in their own. We all have our shit. Nobody is perfect.
One of my biggest weaknesses in life is money. The fear of not having it or of not having enough has followed me most of my life. When I look to the root cause of my anxieties, more often than not, money will be at the core. I know that this is not the “sexiest” fear for a person to have. But money, like all true fears, is what causes me to be a lesser version of myself.
Anxieties over money have dictated plans and some important decisions in my life. They have caused petty conversations between myself and my friends. They have caused me to act in a shameful manner so that I can keep mine and others can spend theirs. These anxieties have prevented me from living in the moment and fully enjoying some of the truly incredible experiences I have had in my life. Money has, regrettably, been a source of discontent with women I have dated.
The crazy thing is that I have always had money. I grew up in a middle class family. I am a cookie-cutter image of white American privilege. I went to a private high school and graduated from a good university. There has never been a night in my life where I did not have a roof to sleep under or a day where I questioned whether I would have a meal.
In the grand scheme of life, I am one of the very lucky ones. I am a college-educated, American male. The opportunities I have been afforded are only available to a fraction of the world’s population. I know this. I know that when I return from my trip to Patagonia I will be able to re-build my digital marketing business and make money again.
I suppose our anxieties are like magic mushrooms. They grow best when you surround them with bullshit.
And you know what? There is still a part of me that has to force myself to go on this trip. There is still a part of me that has to book bus tickets and hostels and flights and buy outrageously overpriced camping gear in order to make the trip real. Because if I didn’t, there is a good chance that my absurd fear of not having money might allow me to make just enough excuses to justify me not doing something I know I will love.
As I type the “t” in type in this very fucking sentence, my mind is calculating a budget for what I should spend while I am down there. I just spent way too much money on a tent and it irks me.
So, besides the obvious belief that a backpacking trip through Patagonia is going to be SICK, I have a secondary motive.
I am going to purposely put myself in a uncomfortable situation. It bothers me when I am not making money. So, I will bother myself. Money is addicting. Work is addicting. The source of my discontent is from wanting more. The more I want, the less I realize how much I have.
If anything, I want to live so that my days are not dictated by doing whatever I can to make more money. I want to camp. I want to read. I want to write. I want to do nothing, for long periods of time. I want to expose myself to the baseless fears that limit my life so I can recognize just how silly they really are.
I want to remind myself that I can not work, not make money, not know where my next check will come from and you know what….
All will be well.
I want to force myself to remember THE most important goal to have in life.
Fear dictates so much of what we do. Why we stay, why we go, why we don’t try, why we say no. Why we don’t take actions to make a change in our lives.
As Mark Twain famously said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life. Most of which never happened.”
So I am off. While I am excited to travel again, I am anxious as well. I will travel alone. I do not know who I will meet or where I will go or how I will get from A to B to C. There is a strange beauty and excitement to this. But make no mistake, part of me is forcing myself to do this. The comfortable choice would be to stay. The practical thing to do would be to stay.
But that is the thing about fears. They are the peanut butter to familiarity’s jam.
If you want a change, you, in turn, must change. I am not sure what will happen on this trip or how I will change because of it. I only know that each time I have made the decision to change things up, good things have happened. I am literally batting 1.000.
So, I encourage you to make a change in your life. I understand that not everyone is allowed the luxury to take a six week backpacking trip. Some of you may chuckle at the fact that this is the most difficult decision I need to make. But changes can come in all shapes and sizes. Take a month of from drinking. Or eating meat. Or from watching TV. Or from social media.
Every time I have entered a situation uncertain and uncomfortable, I have come out stronger. I almost always learned something new. My fears dissipated and my confidence soared. I wish I had a game-plan for how you can recognize what you can change. I can’t.
My only advice would be this. Poke where it hurts.
When you start to do something that seems illogical or makes you feel unusual or uncomfortable, you are on the right track. Do that thing. Remember, feeling uncomfortable is the key. Change is hard. These feelings are a result of you grazing the atmosphere that is your own comfortable existence. The more uncomfortable you feel, the closer you are to progress.
Nos vemos a la vuelta.
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