Two weeks ago I anxiously escaped my bed on a cool morning and booked a flight to Thailand, easily the most absurd decision I’ve made in a while.
After graduating from college—and listening to some sound advice from wise friends—I decided to do exactly what college graduates are not supposed to do. I declined every job opportunity on the table and decided to pause. No plans for grad school. No plans for anything, really.
I graduated college a semester early with no student debt. What if, instead of entering the workforce a few months early, I decided to live inside a 5 month margin of time between school and the working world? What good things might happen in that margin?
It wasn’t an easy decision. For a while it seemed downright ridiculous. Surely I shouldn’t have passed up real career opportunity to basically extend time as a college student, right? Explaining to people that I didn’t actually know what I was doing after graduation always left me feeling a little ashamed.
Today, as I live in the midst of that margin, I believe it was the best choice.
I’ve taken some time to travel and explore. I’ve shared a few dozen meals with friends, new and old. I’m learning more about who I’m becoming and what God has wired me to be. I’ve been writing a lot. Heck, I’m even trying to pick up a few chords on the piano. (Don’t ask for a performance anytime soon.)
Still, there seemed to be something a bit more daunting on the horizon, a haunting dream I couldn’t shake. I always loved the thought of traveling internationally for an extended period of time, but when it was a real possibility I was filled with doubt.
Fear was quick to provide an encyclopedia full of excuses.
I’d be traveling alone, terrifying for this extrovert who gets lonely when he’s home alone for more than five minutes. I don’t know any other languages. I don’t have a boatload of money piled up in an offshore account somewhere. There’s so much I’d be missing out on back in the states.
Once again, I consulted some wise friends and made a deadline for the go/no-go decision. By January 28 I would either buy a ticket or make new plans. The night of the 27th was the worst night of sleep I’ve endured in months, waking up constantly in fits of anxiety and fear.
The final time I woke up was it. I left my bed and booked the ticket to Thailand departing Feb. 17. One week from today.
For months I had been telling people, “I think I might like to possibly travel somewhere this year.” Now I had a destination, a time, a duration, and a ton of prep to do. I was no less afraid, but I made a decision.
Thinking about it now, I could have spent years repeating that sentence.
“I’d really like to travel somewhere someday.”
“I think it’d be cool if ______ ever happened.”
“One day I’ll become a ________.”
Imagining all the possibilities is a blast, but purely hypothetical dreams are just that. Purely hypothetical. Making memories requires commitment to a dream. It just turns out that fleeing commitment is my forte because I’m terrified of failure. Afraid to make the wrong choice, afraid of what I might miss, afraid of what people might think.
This time, instead of talking a big game and acting like some kind of bold free spirit, I’m going to cannonball into the deep end and actually go. Packing a backpack with a few pairs of clothes and boarding a plane—alone—towards Southeast Asia. Spending five weeks there whether I love it or hate it.
Regardless of whether it’s the best or worst five weeks of my life (chances are it’ll be somewhere in between those) committing to this adventure means fear has lost and whimsy has won. What-if no longer rules and what-is has become king.
This zone of uncertainty and commitment is where I want to live long-term, might as well start now.
This post was also published on the WinShape Camps Blog today. WinShape is a team I’ve been privileged to serve with for almost four years now. Thanks to Bryant Malone for coordinating this!