Editor’s Note: this is a guest post by Keith Savage, http://www.traveling-savage.com/.
What’s my story?
It had the same plot line as a million others: middle class upbringing in the suburbs, college at a well-respected university, tech job after graduation, marriage – you get it. Time corkscrewed forward, twisted by the green hand of currency. Short vacations burst into light and immediately faded upon return to the office. Rent changed to mortgage, and a couple thousand square feet filled up with furniture and electronics and utensils and linens. And I wondered, why?
It was the American Dream, and it was dream-like in the way days blurred around the edges, where coffee and alcohol bookended the nights. My wife and I hesitate at the idea of children; we want to accomplish our own goals first, though I couldn’t articulate what mine were. This should have been the first clue the “template” fit me about as well as OJ’s Isotoner fit his hand. Four years into my career and I made my fair share of income, more than I knew what to do with anyway. In fact, I didn’t know what I was doing with it. Money came in and money went out. I saved, but I wasted more.
I was neck deep in modern alchemy, changing time into money into things I neither needed nor cared much about. There was a nagging voice in the back of my head that I grimly ignored. Was this life?
Professionally, my mental state shifted from climbing the corporate ladder to spinning my hypothetical wheels. I grew restless and the internal voice grew louder as if I trailed the echoes back to their source in some lightless cave. I had buried it deep. I spent three more years glutting myself on a buffet of discontent, malaise, and aimlessness, trapped in the vice grip of obliviousness and fear of financial retrograde.
Money is the template. Accumulate it, spend it, invest it in the future. Somehow that equation just wasn’t making as much sense to me anymore. Making money is not wrong; making it at the expense of your happiness, however, is spiritually debilitating. I shudder at the thought of doing something I dislike for decades of my youth in exchange for a comfortable existence in my twilight. Ultimately, I realized I was unhappy living America’s dream instead of my own. But how would I make a living if I quit my job?
Finally, one cold December night, mounting dissatisfaction with my work coupled with a lack of personal growth drove me to the breaking point. For those following a template similar to mine, at some time either your career or your spirit will break. That frigid night at the Belgian beer bar, my spirit took a sledgehammer to my template.
I was done compromising on my passions, and if it meant erasing traditional boundaries between work and play so be it. The trips I’d taken abroad during the preceding seven years burned in my memory like beacons. In short order my wife and I hatched a plan for me to exfiltrate my job and begin traveling the world and writing. And that financial retrograde? Well, I’m betting my savings that passionate creations will find a market in a world tipping too far into the manufactured.
A week later, I started Traveling Savage.
@Audrey – Thanks, this last month is going to be crazy!
@Jenny – Congratulations on knowing where you stood before diving in. I didn’t really think about it when I started. I’ve learned a lot along the way and now I’m ready for a change.
Thanks for sharing your story Keith. I feel like my story is very similar except that I never entered the corporate workforce. I knew early on that it wasn’t for me… all it took was a visit to an advertising agency for me to figure it out.
Glad you broke the template and shifted gears! Life is amazing isn’t it? It’s never to late to change!
Keith, thanks for sharing your story in such an honest and open way. Congratulations on being weeks away from the first stop on your unconventional world tour!