When I told people I was leaving the country to work and travel abroad in Australia for a year (maybe longer), most people were very encouraging.
A few thought I was crazy, but the majority simply said something to the effect of, "That's so awesome! I wish I could do something like that."
Well, after six months of being on my own down under, I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD! The only thing holding any of us back from globe trotting and following our wanderlust-ing hearts is ourselves.
So, I present you with six reasons why you should quit your job and start traveling now:
1. Time is Our Only Real Asset
I know many people with whom I went to school were fed the same garbage I was (not by my parents, but by society as a whole).
"You can be whatever you want to be... until you realize you can't, and now, you need to get a real job and start making a living for yourself."
It's obviously true most of us will not be movie stars and astronauts, and at some point, we have to accept this inevitability. But, it doesn't mean we can't lead lives outside of our nine-to-fives, 401(k)s and social security.
As we start to grow older and conclude that maybe, our childhood fantasies aren't realistic, unfortunately, many of us settle. We don't realize we can adjust our dreams; we don't have to completely give up on them.
Now, this is not to say my lifestyle is glamorous, and I have a lot more I want to do and accomplish, but the first step was breaking away from where I was. That doesn't mean you have to move to another continent, but you should move somewhere.
If you've been with the same company for 10 years and you see another 30 in your future and that scares the sh*t out of you... quit.
Money isn't everything and saving a bunch of it won't make you happier. You can buy almost everything you want with enough money, but you can't buy back your youth.
You can't take back the time you spent in the office instead of on the beach, or in the mountains, or kayaking down the river. The key is having enough faith in yourself and your skill set to be confident you can get work elsewhere.
You may have always wanted to live in Colorado's mountains, but you have got seniority at your office. I implore you take the pay cut and take a chance to go somewhere new.
That way, when you do get to spend your free time, you're doing it somewhere you love (and weed is legal there -- bonus!).
2. Traveling Helps You Learn About Yourself
"You think you know, but you have no idea." Anyone from my generation knows this iconic line from "The Real World," but nothing makes life realer than venturing out to find yourself.
You think you love chain restaurants and comfortable seating until you've pushed your way through an eclectic night market, shoving food into your mouth from a paper plate, trying not to get knocked over.
You think you know your coffee of choice until you come to a place where coffee is an art form. A place where no one drinks "drip," and you are quickly educated on the subtle, yet vital differences (and not everything is f*cking pumpkin flavored).
Most importantly, you think you know who you are and have some idea about your boundaries.
That is, until you start to say yes to things and end up on a back alley adventure or stumble into a random bar to see 10 trannies walking around in Christmas attire, with one lip-synching Maria Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You."
You think you know, but you have no idea...
3. Traveling Opens The Boundary Of Your Comfort Zone
Believe it or not, I'm not much of a risk-taker and I happen to like my little safety bubble like the rest of us.
But, when you travel, you meet people who will change your perspective on life and how you should lead your own. You realize there are things more important than money and security, like adventure and experience.
These people are the 20-somethings who lead lives of invincibility; to them, there is no tomorrow and no bad past decisions — only the present.
I still struggle to live for the moment, but you can be sure I'm doing a lot better than I was before.
4. You Never Know What Opportunities May Present Themselves
When you decide to stop leading your "normal life" and start traveling, you open yourself up to a world you never before knew existed.
If you are usually not so great in social situations, you can start to push the boundaries of the norm.
Any kid who's ever moved as a child knows it's kind of nice to be able to push the reset button on who you are. You can reinvent yourself into the type of person you've always wanted to be.
Well, take that and multiply it by 1000 when it comes to travel.
Not every person who sets out to see the world is an adventurer, but when you talk to people on the road, you see who they really are, not who they've been trained to be by habit and circumstance.
And by opening yourself up and communicating and meeting as many new people as possible, you never know what could happen.
I've also met people who have gotten jobs, started exciting new relationships and made tons of new lifelong friendships; it's all out there, you just have to be open to it.
5. Your Job Will Be There When You Get Back
Obviously, this isn't always the case, but for most of us in our early- to mid-20s, right now is the time when if you do have an office job, you will start to work your way up, which basically means you're at the bottom.
And, while experience is good, don't take for granted the fact that some employers value life experience just as much as work experience.
Best case scenario: You have a year or two sabbatical and come back to your old job, where your boss loves the fact that you've seen the world and wants you to lead his or her new division.
Worst case scenario: You get a job doing the same thing you were doing before you left, but now, you have some life experience under your belt. You have a better understanding of people and the way the world is.
You can then use all of this newfound practical knowledge, and you make your way up through the ranks faster than if you had stayed put in the first place.
And, don't forget: You got to see the world.
6. The Future Is Uncertain
Every day, there is another engagement or baby that pops up on my Facebook News Feed. Every day, someone passes the Bar Exam or gets a real estate license or gets that promotion.
From what I've come to realize, the two biggest things that hold us back from packing up and going are fear of the unknown and complacency/success.
Fear of the unknown is obviously the fear of what will happen if you leave all this security behind; you have a good job, you're making decent money and have a potentially bright future.
Complacency and success aren't usually used together, but this covers a number of things, from promotions to engagements to babies, to whatever comes along in our lives that makes us feel as if we need to be complacent where we are.
"Well, I can't leave now, I'm up for that promotion." "We've been dating for three years, it's probably time to get engaged, but I can't travel and be worried about a wedding." "Oh, sh*t, we're pregnant."
Now, where the last reason may be a valid reason to stay put, there are a number of reasons why we rationalize staying in our current situations. But, the future is uncertain.
Your company could fold; your significant other could leave you, and maybe, the baby doesn't look very much like you.
The point is if you keep making excuses about what could happen, you will miss opportunities to make things happen for yourself.
So, get out there! If you've always wanted to hike K-2 -- go for it.
If Australia is your dream destination, meet me here and we'll go for a drink. If you have no idea where you want to go, spin a globe, put your finger down and book the next flight out of dodge.
The longer you wait, the more things you will accumulate that will be harder to leave behind. It's easy to break a lease, but it's a lot harder when you have a mortgage.
Just take a risk, fly by the seat of your pants and know that everything you leave behind will still be there, if/when you choose to come back.
The world is out there for you to explore, you just have to go... now!