Life is not a single line moving in one smooth direction forward. Maybe I wasn’t set to go forward in a direct line, anyway. Maybe none of us are. Life is more like a series of random dots that thankfully get connected in the end. We just don’t really see it as such in the moment. Here’s what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in the process of changing course.
It Can’t Be About the Money
Ah, money. If there’s one lesson I’m in the process of learning, it’s this: often, choosing to pursue a less conventional adventure means less dollar dollar bill y’all, at least in the beginning or for a time. Doing so is WORTH it, but I found I couldn’t approach it with any sort of traditional mindset. Take my upcoming PCT hike, as an example. Financially, hiking for 4-6 months does – not – make – sense. Clearly. But what I’ve found through changing courses lately is that it doesn’t have to be about the money. I mean, I still work – I pay my rent, and feed myself, and deal with money because I’m an adult, but there’s not much past those things. Money goes towards this new upcoming adventure, and that’s about it. Yes, money is a necessary thing whether you’re doing something traditional or not. I have found, though, that in choosing to change courses I had to choose to change my perspective on money, too. TL;DR? Money = necessary. Traditional mindset = earn lots of it. New perspective = if at all possible, pursue what you love even if it means earning less of it.
Oh, and disclaimer: trust me, I know that not having money be a factor is a more complex than just saying “fight the man, who needs money!” and riding your unicorn off into the sunset. Sometimes it sucks and it means saying no a lot and can be all around unpleasant. Trust me, I know. Keeping my bigger picture and goal in mind, though, is honestly what carries me through the ~downer~ side of this point.
You Have To Own Your Decision
When you change course, there’s a high likelihood that you will hear a chorus of questions and doubts. They’ll range from the polite questions of well meaning people who simply don’t get it, to the insensitive judgements of those who see your decision as “too” – too risky, too pointless, too selfish, too impractical, too dreamy, too nontraditional, too just not worth it. While anyone who’s ever taken any sort of risk, leap, or yep – changed courses – knows this is annoying as heck, there’s really only one way through it. Own it. Own the decision you’ve made, the path you’ve chosen for the time. Life is full of people who will celebrate with you, and it’s full of people who would rather offer up their commentary from the cheap seats. Regardless of which type you find yourself around, know this: people have no power over you when you’ve already decided to be confident in your decisions. Own ?? it ??
These Seasons Are More Than Just The “In Between”
Lately I’ve found myself referring to these moments and seasons as “in between”. I’m in between “career” jobs, or in between permanent locations, or in between this and that. There’s nothing wrong with being in between. But, the longer I’m in these in between seasons, the more I discover that maybe it’s not in between anymore. Maybe it’s just my life right now. “Well now’s the time to do it!” has got to be one of the most common remarks I’ve heard when people start to talk to me about the Pacific Crest Trail. And the truth is, it is the right time. When it’s said, though, it usually comes with the implication that it’s the right time because I haven’t “settled down” yet (whatever that means). I prefer, though, not to see these different adventures simply as fun time fillers until I decide to “settle down”, but as adventures I’m choosing to make into my life.
How does one acknowledge the lack of stability (the moving, the job changes, the soon to be hiking lifestyle) while still living presently, because this is real life? I don’t know yet. What I do know is this: if you constantly see these changing courses as in between, you have to ask yourself what’s on the other side of the in between. What do we wait for, hope for, plan for? Doing something different or changing your course doesn’t have to be a one-off, once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. If you’re pursuing what you love, whatever that looks like for you, then it’s not an in between season.
At the end of the day, this truth is a major takeaway for me from this season: when an opportunity arises – that sweet spot when the timing is right, jobs fall into or out of place as needed, and your heart is in it – you must take it. For you it could be travel, or leaving the 9-5 to try freelance…insert whatever you would love to change your course to do. It’s scary and exciting and will probably keep you up some nights and leave you scrambling to order melatonin gummies from Amazon (raises hand). But’s it worth it. Oh, my friends, it’s so worth it.
I’d love to know what your experience with changing your course or trying something different has been! I find that hearing others stories is both encouraging and inspiring to me.