From Laid Off to Off-Loading: A Tale of What’s Really Important

Do you love your job? On my surface, my job was a dream job. But when people asked me that, I could never give them an emphatic yes. (My diplomatic response was, ‘Well, I get to do a lot of cool things…’)

In spite of all that, when I was laid off in June of 2017, it shook me. My self-confidence was shattered. I thought, what am I going to do now?? I can’t not have a job!

World turned upside down

From a young age, we’re told — “Hurry up, figure out what you want to be when you grow up, don’t waste any time, get that degree, get that full-time job, don’t get distracted by anything, and save for retirement… you don’t want to miss that earning potential. Times-a-wasting!”

In fact, I was one of these kids. I was always in a rush, perfectly posturing myself for career success. I never got the chance to go on one of these epic trips, study abroad for a semester, or travel for a summer.

Fast forward a week or two. The news had sunk in, I had made peace with the change of pace, and I was looking forward. (I tend to react big and hard, then get over things quickly.) I soon realized this layoff was a blessing in disguise. I had been given the incredible opportunity to go on a paid vacation, courtesy of my former employer. I decided to book a flight into one city and a flight out of another 4 weeks later, and fill in the blanks along the way.

This was with only a carry-on and a “personal item.”

What I learned…

There’s nothing like living out of a 40-liter backpack for 4 weeks to make me realize that all the crap I own is only weighing me down. I have too much stuff! We are so tethered to our possessions and the status it gives us.

This short-term backpacking trip in Europe was the most rewarding of my life… exhilarating, fulfilling, humbling, and I came to a realization: I’d rather make little or no money and be happy, versus working my ass off at an 8 to 5, self-medicating the stress away every night with a bottle of wine and two hours of Netflix.

I realized I’ve always been chasing the better title, better company, more money, more prestige… and what came with that was obviously more stress, less sleep, and less balance.

Balance is so, so important. Don’t lose sight of yourself, your passions, and your drivers while you are working for the man. Because travel is the only thing (that costs money) but makes you richer.

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