I only recently crawled out from the depths of a lifetime of anxiety and depression. I was ruled by fear and resistant to change — imprisoned by my own mind. I hit a breaking point as I struggled to fall asleep on the evening of November 14, 2015. It was the beginning of a personal transformation and I was unconsciously committed to it.
I started attending regular therapy sessions, reading books, going to the gym, exploring new hobbies, and revisiting old ones. I spent over three years rethinking everything and detaching from who I thought I was — killing the parts of my psyche that no longer served me. I got a new job. I left a long term relationship.
Particularly valuable was my decision to take on self-defined monthly challenges. I tried cold showers, quitting coffee, and going vegan to name a few. My approach was simple — attach it to my identity. I take cold showers every morning. I am not a coffee drinker. I am vegan. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had acquired a superpower.
I never wanted to go to school or get a job. I wanted adventure. I wanted to create. I wanted to carve my own place in this world. I have always been passionate about my craft. I asked myself some tough questions. What is holding me back from pursuing my dreams? What if I burn through my savings? How long do I have? How will I survive? What if I fall flat on my face? Am I good enough? Am I too lazy? Ultimately, fear was holding me back. How cliché…
Well, it doesn’t have to be black or white. Maybe I could arrange to work remotely with my company at reduced hours. Maybe it would happen, maybe it wouldn’t, but it provided the false sense of security that I needed to push forward.
So I took a leap of faith. Earlier this year I booked a one way flight scheduled for departure mid-August. I had something to work towards. There was light at the end of the tunnel. I began preparing for long term international travel by selling my personal belongings, wrapping up my divorce, arranging for international health insurance, and searching for affordable destinations with good internet and minimal heat.
Flash-forward to this global health crisis and things didn’t really change too much for me initially. I had been training for this. My local coffee roaster is closed. Four years ago I would have been outraged. Now? I’m not a coffee drinker. Quarantined? Self-isolation is my jam!
A few weeks into quarantine, my apartment water supply was shut off for emergency repairs that persisted over an entire day. At a time of social, economic, and biological uncertainty, I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, “I’d take another day without water over another day at this job.” Sadly, I meant it. Knowing I was leaving in August was holding me together. I was pushing through to wrap up my current projects, help bring two new senior developers up to speed, and add a little buffer to my perceived — but highly questionable — financial security.
I slowly started to realize that my flight out may not be happening. I need to give notice to my employer and my landlord in July if I am getting on that flight. Nobody knows what will happen but it is starting to look unlikely. I had more tough questions to ask myself. What if travel restrictions aren’t lifted by then? What if this goes on for years? What is holding me back from pursuing my dreams regardless of these circumstances? What if I were to die? How would I want to spend my final days? Am I being irresponsible? Am I sane?
This is not an optimal time to say the least. Everything tells me that I should be terrified but I no longer choose to live from a place fear. I believe this change is what is best for me and that it will enable me to deliver more value to others. I feel aligned with the deepest parts of myself that I had only previously seen fragments of. This has been in the making my whole life. I can’t stop now. This is me.