My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to save as much as humanly possible so I could quit my job in November and travel for about 3 to 6 months. I was feeling good about this idea. In my mind, it was to be a combination of two goals I had in mind: running away and having the time to write as much as possible. The fantasy was to camp out in some super cheap destination like Nicaragua or Cambodia, squat in an AirBnB or work at a hostel, and write to my heart’s content without worrying about Chicago’s cost of living. I made spreadsheets. I read books. I put away 10% of my paycheck as soon as it was deposited.
But, of course, life got in the way, in both good and bad aspects.
First, the election of Donald Trump has put me in a vulnerable position. I’m currently a Green Card holder, waiting not-so-patiently for my citizenship. Under any other presidency, there would be little consequences to me leaving the country as long as I maintained residency here and lived in the US for most of the year. Unfortunately, Trump’s repeated attempts to instill a Muslim ban and his election of anti-immigrant nut job Jeff Sessions means I can’t really count on those protections anymore. I’ve been counseled by several people, including my lawyer, to not leave the country unless I absolutely have to. As for when I’ll get my citizenship, there’s no real way of knowing. I may take my oath in two months. It may take a year. I may bomb my exam and the immigration officer could deny my request.
So much for me running away.
On the other hand, I’ve been writing quite a bit. Mostly for pay. This may be a delusional assessment, but I’m starting to gain some momentum in my long-delayed writing career. (Delayed for reasons that are almost exclusively my own fault.) It’s actually getting to be unsustainable. I can’t go full-speed ahead on many opportunities because I spend 40+ a day at a job that gives me no other satisfaction other than an ability to pay bills. I stop myself from seeking out more writing outlets for the same reason. It makes me wonder what would happen to my writing career if I fully and unapologetically committed myself to it. I even calculated my financial situation and, without getting into too many personal details, I can survive for a year without making a single cent. This is an enviable position to have and I totally understand if you want to roll your eyes at my “woe is me” post.
Why am I writing all this? Because I am in a conundrum, my friends. I turn 35 in a couple of months and I want to celebrate it, really celebrate it. I want to feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction instead of this perpetual feeling of paralysis. At some point, I have to risk it all to live a life that I truly want instead of putting out emotional fires. Which is basically what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years. I’m afraid that if I quit, it’ll give the charming people at Homeland Security a reason to deny my citizenship. I’m afraid it may take me another 3 years to get steady employment or a steady stream of income. That had been my experience after dropping out of grad school and the scars of long-term underemployment should not be discounted. There is nothing wrong with wanting and prioritizing financial stability. I’ve been on the other side of it and the stress of it is tatooed into your psyche in ways that are hard to shake off. I’m afraid I’ll be on such a tight budget, I’ll never travel again, becoming a podcast co-host fraud. My mind keeps debating between the two: I can be an adult, continue to save up, wait for my citizenship and then take off. Or I can quit my soul-sucking day job and write. Realistically, there is very little chance of me being able to do both.
I love dishing out advice on the podcast about how you can incorporate travel and redefine adventure for yourself in a pragmatic way. Now, I’m asking for your help. If you were me, what would you do?
- Stop my whining and realize this is what being an adult is. Wait for citizenship and a new job that will make my writing dreams viable.
- Stick to my original plan and quit in November, assuming I have citizenship.
- Quit once I have citizenship to write. Travel can wait.
- Write a letter of resignation with the day before my birthday as my last day of work. Hope for the best. Life is too short to devote 40+ hours to something I find meaningless.
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