When I decided to leave my career and move to Belgium, there were a lot of mixed reactions from my family, coworkers and friends. Some were positive (and I am forever thankful to those who have supported my choices from day one), but most reactions were extremely negative.
I was told that I would regret it.
I was told (often) that I was throwing away my education and a good job.
I was told that this choice would be something I could never come back from.
I was told I would never find another social work job if I took a few years off to travel.
I was TOLD a lot of things (most of which were just completely untrue); but I had already made up my mind.
I really didn’t think it would be that easy to just decide to quit my job and move to another country where I knew finding a job would be hard. “Giving up” something I had worked so hard to get into was a big decision – especially with so many people telling me not to do it.
Just because it was a big decision, doesn’t mean it was a hard one…
Leaving my career at 22 and moving to another country was actually the easiest choice I have ever made.
It wasn’t some big epiphany or some spiritual revaluation…to be honest, it wasn’t even really that long of a conversation. One day during a late night Skype call with K, I just sort of decided that I wasn’t happy with my career and that something had to change.
It wasn’t long after that when we decided I would move to Belgium (where my social work degree isn’t valid).
Seeing the world with my boyfriend was going to make me happier than my job ever could; and my happiness was worth the risk of making this change.
As we said in our post last week (The Bad Days) – travel isn’t always glamorous and beautiful like your Instagram feed would have you believe (especially full-on immigration to another country)…but it’s definitely exciting and fulfilling.
I have absolutely nothing against people who have successful careers that give them happiness, because that is great for you! If you get satisfaction from your job; you are one of the lucky ones.
For the rest of us, it’s a big (and emotional) step to acknowledge that the job we worked so hard to get isn’t making us happy.
Now I am living in Belgium with my man and 2 adorable cats, working a low key (part time) housekeeper job and running this blog. I have tons of time to plan trips and travel the world; and that makes me so much happier than my established and better-paying career ever did.
I’m not saying you should abandon your career or your job to travel the world.
I’m not saying you have to travel the world in order to be a happier person.
I am saying you have to figure out what makes you happiest, and make that your first priority.
I am also saying that traveling is something that we have been given the privilege to do. We are so lucky to live in a time where seeing the world is as easy as it is – and we’re fools if we don’t take advantage of that.
WHY YOU SHOULD PRIORITIZE TRAVEL OVER YOUR CAREER
(at least for a little while);
You Realize What Your Priorities Are
When I started to travel, I realized that prioritizing a career life over a travel or adventurous life was something other people wanted – but it was never something I wanted. Traveling gave me a chance to figure out what I wanted for my life.
It Is (Usually Always) Exciting
When my friend is texting me about dreading her boring monthly board meeting, I have a new appreciation for the thrill of booking spontaneous flights, planning new city tours and the endless possibilities that come with being able to do those things.
It Can Be Your Own
Although I have such an interest in addictions and mental health, social work was something I got into for all the wrong reasons. Following in my mom’s footsteps and trying to make up for mistakes I had made early in life; social work was never more than an interesting thing to learn about for me. I tried to force it, and that obviously wasn’t working.
Travel is something that excites me; something that is mine.
It Is Empowering
It’s so empowering to know that every beautiful thing I see along the way are because of choices I made.
“I booked this trip. I worked hard to pay for it. I figured out how to get from my hotel to … wherever this is. (And I’m sure I can figure out how to get back…)”
You Have a New Appreciation for Life
Drinking cheap wine in front of the Eiffel Tower with my sister, or splashing around with K on a kayak trip down a beautiful river in the Ardennes…those are the things that really make me appreciate my life and the people in it. Seeing and experiencing beautiful things in beautiful places with beautiful people really has a way of changing your outlook on things.
It Is Always New
So often we get stuck in routines and just kind of mindlessly walk through life for a while.
Go to the gym, go to work, come home, walk the dog, cook dinner, watch Netflix, go to bed; and then wake up and do it all over again.
Something as simple as walking around in a new city can re-energize your life!
You Become More Open Minded
Meeting people from all over the world is bound to expand your way of thinking. You can experience new things, meet new people and expand on your knowledge of the world. You become more than just a Canadian or a resident of Belgium; you become a citizen of the world with a bunch of experiences to look back on and learn from.
You Learn New Things
Different languages, new cultures, different religions; and even something as simple as different ways of cooking your favourite meals! Traveling the world gives you the opportunity to learn way more than you would in some seminar at the office.
You Build Solid Connections
I am so thankful for my best friend here in Belgium. If I had never moved here and joined an expat group on Facebook, we wouldn’t have met each other. And if we’d never met, I wouldn’t have grown to love this country the way that I have. The connections and friendships you make during your travels can last a lifetime and/or come in really handy!
It’s Never Permanent
Traveling for a year (or a few) doesn’t erase your education or take away your career opportunities.
You CAN put your career on hold and see the world/figure yourself out/have a wild time. It IS possible to go back to your desk…it WILL still be there.
Have you left a career or put your job on hold to travel?
Tell us your story below!