About a year ago I applied to teach English through the Chilean English Opens Doors Program. Unfortunately the program was already full – but it didn’t stop me from applying to the waitlist and researching Chile and the regions of South America with a fervor – devouring articles, photos, travel blogs, and yerba mate all in one fatal gulp. I was hooked on the idea of South America. The dancing, the music, the language, the cultures, the people, the nature, the adventure, the challenge.
But then I began my ‘career’ which consisted of sitting in a car, in traffic, for over 2 hours a day, sitting at desk for 9 hours staring at a screen filled with ads for dentists and coupons for discounted Lasik procedures, and speaking to hardly a soul throughout a 12 hour day. My spirit was quietly being crushed, the life being sucked out with every start of the engine in the mornings. Depression creeped in from every corner of my day and it started to become a struggle just to force a smile for friends and family. The person I was and who I wanted to become was vanishing before my very eyes and I felt powerless, trapped in a cycle of paychecks, to change anything.
So for the past year I began to quietly save and research. Lunch hours spent consuming travel routes through Central America, instead of actual food. Photographs of natural wonders such as Angel Falls, Machu Picchu, and Torres Del Paine became the backgrounds of all my man-made electronics. My bed time reading became books about how to plan for Latin America because it’s all I could dream about. My soundtrack became Peruvian Afro-funk and other Latin-inspired music because it was the only thing that put a spring into my step. My shopping list consists of functionality rather than fashion first, like hiking boots, khaki skorts, and trying to figure out just how many sports bras I’ll actually need.
I had been preparing to leave for my trip in January 2016. But due to circumstances beyond purely my control – I’m leaving at the end of August 2015 to spend a year traveling and working across Latin America.
If I said I wasn’t scared, I would be lying. But if I said that it outweighed my hope or my excitement, I would be lying even more. The only thing I can say with complete conviction is that I may not be ready to leave at this exact moment or even by the time my flight departs – but I know at the bottom of my heart and by the will of my body and soul that I am ready to leave. I am ready to explore once again. I can’t wait to step off a plane into a new city and be unfamiliar with everything. I cherish the day when I get to work on a farm on the side of a mountain and I sit down at the end of day with blistered hands but a bolstered sense of self confidence because I’ll have actually made something to be proud of.
I feel as though my entire life was one big lie. I was told my only option was to go to college in order to get a job. After college I wasn’t encouraged to continue learning or striving to better myself – my only concerns from graduation on out were to climb the job ladder until I reached a position with enough income to sustain myself and my future family.
For the first time I’m making a choice that will fulfill me more than any job title, diploma, or salary could ever do. And for that I am proud. And for that – I know my soul is once again rooting for me.