So I’ve been out here for about a year now, and even though there have been some tough times, moving out here and finding the career of my dreams has been the best thing to ever happen to me. I’m so thankful for it. Sometimes I stop and think how lucky I am to have had so many random things come together to lead me here, both good and bad. Being in debt which made me need to look for a better job, having a cousin who lived in Edmonton who I knew I could ask to stay with while I worked a job in Edmonton that paid better, finding out he could get me a term position at Bioware, and then finding it was more than just a cool job, but a career I could be passionate about. But looking even further back: getting my license because I wanted more independence, then a year and a half later, feeling completely lost and deciding to take a road-trip to try to “find myself”.
Of all the many random things that came together to bring me to where I am now, the road-trip has always stood out in my mind as the real moment I took control of my path, and directed it somewhere better. Before the road-trip I never quite felt truly independent in mind. I lived with a subtle fear that motivated all my actions. I always had someone to fall back on, and rarely had to deal with things on my own. At some point in my formative years, I’d made some subconscious decision to succumb to fear, and it had informed all subsequent decisions in my life.
But the shelter it provided started to get pretty confining. And because my actions were all limited by that fear, the person I presented myself as never quite felt like me, but instead I felt defined by those fears; no one understood who I was behind them all. And then I realized they were right. It’s not who you are behind all your fears that defines you. You are what you do, not what you wish you could do. No one has any right to demand respect for intentions or dreams alone. It’s your actions that define you.
So I decided to go on the road-trip. I made some sort of internal mental commitment to it, and refused to back down, even though everyone who said they’d come backed out, which in the end was for the best. Then there was car troubles, work issues, and many attempts to talk me out of it from concerned friends and family who were not used to seeing me take risks like this.
Yes, I was still scared as hell, but I knew this was it. This was a defining moment, if for no other reason than I’d made it one. This moment would set the precedent. If I backed out now, my life would continue to be a series of missed opportunities, compromises, and the justifications that follow. But if I broke that pattern by taking this risk and living the adventure that would follow, it’d be the beginning of a life of pursuing my true ambitions and taking chances on the things I believed in.
So June came and I packed my car and hit the road. It was the best thing I ever did in my life. For just under 3 weeks I lived an adventure that, to this day, not a single other soul truly knows. I was the only constant, and it was fueled by my willpower alone. For 3 weeks I trained myself to follow a dream and to power through those feelings of self doubt and fear. And I learned that it’s always worth it in the end. You only get one life, and it goes by a lot faster than you plan. I want so much more out of that life than just comfort.
When I returned home, I returned to a life that no longer reflected who I was. I’d changed. I was ready to follow my dreams, overcome fears and enjoy the adventure. But this was a life I’d created while paralyzed by fear. It just didn’t reflect the drive I now had. In the 3 weeks I had been gone I’d learned so much: There was always going to be reasons not to follow your dreams, routine would always be easier than change, and talk and action are 2 very different things. Sometimes you need to break your own patterns, and take irrational risks, because your dreams should weigh in on your decisions.
The true changes I’d gone through didn’t become apparent to me until I was back home, and it just didn’t quite feel like home anymore. I ended up getting a tattoo to commemorate that lesson. Sometimes, despite all reasons not to, you gotta follow your dreams and just run the red.
I broke a pattern that summer 2 years ago, and began a new one. Ever since, I’ve followed my dreams and taken chances. No doubt it has made life harder, but it’s also made it worth it. Every dark day I have here has a sense of purpose. I used to have such a propensity for long deep depressions, because when I felt low, that was all there was. The risks I’ve taken have led me to a life where even the dark days are just a step on the path to my dreams.
For a decade my life had been pretty stagnant, not much changed year to year. But in the 18 months since that road-trip I now live 2 provinces away, have an entire new group of friends, have found the career of my dreams and have my next steps planned out for that career. I make twice as much money doing something I love, have dated some really nice girls, learned how to weather the dark times and truly enjoy the good ones, and have changed as a person more than I thought possible. Or maybe I’ve just learned how to be myself. I can honestly say I didn’t truly grow up until a year ago. My teenage life lasted well into my 20’s. But better late then never.
And everything I have now, I can trace back to that road-trip. It’s the one common denominator that let me become capable of all this. It was that first decision, to go on the road-trip no matter what, that then spawned all subsequent decisions that led me here. It sparked a commitment to truly better my life, no matter the cost, no matter the fear or doubts. That was when my life truly began, because it’s when I finally learned how to actually live.