Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just Do It

Dallas, TX

The other night, I surfed with some people in Katy, TX just west of Houston. It was a family - Mom, two brothers and a sister, and the girlfriend of one of the brothers - all in the house for the summer (there were two other brothers who were off other places). They were hosting three other surfers that night, and the mom had one of her friends over, so we had a straight up party going on.

I gave rides on my motorcycle to five different people, we sat around and talked about various things, we sat on the porch and smoked pipes together, we played ping pong, we learned to salsa dance (Thanks Holly!), we shared youtube videos... it was a complete blast. Definitely up there as one of my favorite couchsurfing experiences.

One of the guys I was hanging out with was talking about his travels - he's been to Australia, lived in France for a while, traveled through Southeast Asia, and quite a bit of other travels as well. In fact, the trip to Australia was when he was 16, and he's only 24 now.

I have to admit, I was pretty jealous. Yes, I know. I'm doing this trip now, and people are jealous of me. I know that I'm very lucky to be able to do this, and that I have very little to be jealous of. I had to remind myself of all of that while listening to him talk about his travels.

At the same time... I spent four years living in a cubicle, in a city I wasn't a huge fan of. It took me four years, and a stable budget and some money saved up in order to convince myself that I could actually do this. And I almost didn't do it - it was extremely difficult to make myself leave that stability, that safety, and go off into the unknown. I forced myself to tell people that I was planning on doing this trip, and used the potential guilt I would feel if I backed out to force myself into doing it.

And honestly? A lot of the work on the way to where I am was done by other people. I was born into a middle class family that was smart with their money, put me through good schools, and paid for a large part of my college. I had parents who followed me around making sure I did the work I needed to in high school in order to get into the college I wanted to. College was pretty much handed to me - I really didn't work to get in, and I didn't have to pay for much of it, so I got out without much in the way of loans.

My job was pretty much handed to me as well - Caterpillar came to my college to interview people, so I didn't even have to go out and look for places to apply. I just walked in and interviewed, and after one more set of interviews in Peoria (with paid travel both ways), they offered me a job. And I took it, because it was easier than trying to find a better job, or a better location, or figuring out how I could afford to travel right after college or do something else.

Because I was fortunate enough to enjoy something that people are willing to pay you a decent amount for, I was able to quickly pay off my college loans, and quickly pay off my car after my old one died and I had to get a new one. And enough to save up for this trip, while still not really having to sacrifice many of the things I wanted.

So while I am doing this trip, I didn't have to go very far out of my comfort zone to get here. And it took until I was 25 before I was willing to even go that far out of my comfort zone. And when I finish this trip, it's a distinct possibility that I might end up right back in a comfort zone that I'm not quite ready to leave for a while, and I'll have to do it again.

I guess what I'm getting around to with all of this, is that there's some work involved in leaving your comfort zone. It's a skill to be learned, if you will. And this guy who I met had it in greater measure than I do, and at a younger age. That is what I was jealous of, as much as I was jealous of the travels. Probably more, in fact - I'm generally not jealous of people who take a two-week vacation to Europe and see the tourist sights, even though I wouldn't mind doing that. I'm jealous of people who decide to go Nomad, or who are visiting every country in the world. That's the kind of thing that takes real dedication, and a real jump away from what's comfortable.

And that's what I'm jealous of - people who have been able to do that. Because even though I'm doing this trip, it's still something I struggle with. I would love to start a company or get a job that allows me to do a trip like this permanently, where I can work on the road. That would let me actually spend some real time in different places - hopefully do it internationally too. But right now, I just don't have the ability to jump out into the world and do that.

I'm looking - I'm trying to find something of value that I have, that I can provide to people for money. I would love if something like this blog could be that - if I could reliably write about things that people wanted to hear about, that helped them, that they were maybe even willing to pay for if I wrote a book about it. Or maybe do coding remotely for people. But I find myself scared to do anything but apply for another regular job.

So I'm working on it. I'm working on just going out and doing the things that scare me. And I try to help other people do that too, because I know how much it's helped me, and I've seen how much it's helped other people as well. And this trip is, hopefully, just the beginning.

What would make you want to do something that you were scared of? What would help you get out of your comfort zone? What kind of things are you thinking about doing but can't bring yourself to do?


  1. A puppy dog sad face helps me.

  2. Props to you for being able to leave a cushy job to do what you really want!