I left Seattle today (well, Bellevue if you’re familiar with the area) and I’m not returning for a year. I mean, I’ll go back to visit of course, but it won’t be the same. My feeling leading up to leaving were very steady. Even now I don’t think its fully hit me. I’m going to New Zealand — for a year!
As I anticipate this change, I’m feeling reflective. On the way to the train station, we passed my old apartment building, the first place I lived in Seattle. I’m so different now than I was then, a freshly graduated college kid ready to take on the world. There have been some bumps along the way, but my attitude of taking on the world really hasn’t changed, its just been redirected.
When I first arrived in Seattle, I was excited to start a job at Microsoft. That was the culmination of all my hard work and the realization of all my long term goals. I thought that job would be the last thing I needed to worry about, I thought that everything else in my life would fall into place naturally. It is easy to see that version of myself as a bit naive, but I can’t fault myself too much: a solid job and financial security makes life a lot easier, it just isn’t the only thing that matters. I definitely wouldn’t have believed it if you told me that in 4 short years, I would be quitting this hard earned job to move across the world with little more than the clothes in my backpack and plans to volunteer on some farm somewhere.
Even now I have a to keep reminding myself that this is not a dream. That said, a lot of my friends weren’t surprised when I actually decided to go. Maybe my constant talking about travel and other countries clued them in. I quit work 2 months ago to prepare for this journey and it still hasn’t quite sunk in. I think I’ve been in “summer” mode, so nothing seems quite out of the ordinary. I’ve discovered that even unemployed, I’m not and idle person, which also won’t surprise most of my friends and family. I’m always keeping busy and I don’t think this major life change will really hit me until I’m on a 9 hour flight, by myself, for the first time in ages. I’ve built up a good network in Seattle and it’s been some time since I’ve been alone. Not just alone as in I’m hanging out by myself tonight, but alone as in if I wanted to see people it’s gonna be difficult. I used to see being alone like that as proof of my fierce independence: I don’t need anybody else! But if nothing else, the last few years have taught me that being independent doesn’t mean being alone, and that I need other people in my life.
As I am writing on this this train, with the rain dripping down the windows, I feel like I’ve never felt so directionless. Actually that’s not true. Last year was truly directionless for me. That’s when I realized that I was no longer being fulfilled by my life. My job, which had been my primary source of purpose, was no longer enough for me. It didn’t help that work also became rather ambiguous last year. Without the feeling of making concrete progress at work, I realized that very few parts of my life gave me a feeling of accomplishment anymore.
Looking back, I realize that I actually have a lot more direction that last year, even if I don’t have everything figured out. That’s probably why I feel content in the unknown, as opposed to last year when I was just lost. My direction is now New Zealand, whatever that ends up meaning. I’m excited about about the unknown instead of dreading it. I can’t wait to explore New Zealand, as well as myself, in the year to come. The wonderful thing about my ambiguous state is that life still holds infinite possibilities, it’s up to me to pick which threads to pull, which paths to travel. And more than that, it will always be up to me to navigate life this way. There will always be an abundance of opportunities and decisions to make so long as I know where to look.