I Turned My Back on Everything I Knew. Here’s Why

As I’m writing this, I’m in Mykonos, a small party island in Greece.

I have been travelling for almost three weeks, and will be travelling indefinitely, because everything I do and everywhere I go, I’m travelling.

And I’m travelling alone.

This trip wasn’t supposed to play out like this.

On March 23, my husband Jason and I were supposed to pack our bags for a short, two-week trip to Germany, Amsterdam and Brussels for his 30th birthday. We were supposed to drop our dogs off at their boarding kennel, catch a ride with my dad to the airport, and take off on our red eye flight.

That’s not how March 23 played out.

Instead, I drove home in tears from the city after saying goodbye to a friend I wouldn’t see in awhile.

Instead, I packed up the last of my belongings into the trunk of my car and hugged my brother goodbye at the bottom of the driveway of the house that was no longer mine. The “sold” sign swung in the wind behind us.

Instead, I sent Jason a text: “do you want to keep the red dishes, or can I take them?”. He responded to keep in touch; that I could visit Tansy, our Boston Terrier, whenever I found myself back in BC.

Instead, I drove to my dad’s house, parked my car full of my worldly possessions, and took off for the airport with a one-way ticket to Paris, a carry-on suitcase and nothing to return to. I texted my best friend: “I’m officially homeless”.

No marriage. No house. Nothing.

Notre Dame, Paris. The City of Love where I spent a week with the person I love the most in the world: Myself.

Notre Dame, Paris. The City of Love where I spent a week with the person I love the most in the world: Myself.

What Unsettling Really Means

This is the first most of you are hearing about my separation from Jason and my (at this point, not so) new living situation (or lack thereof), but if you’ve been around for long enough you might recall that I’ve written before about our struggles.

We were struggling a year ago, and despite my newfound self awareness about my working habits and lifestyle (and an honest effort to adapt and concede these things in myself), we continued to struggle for the year following.

And while outwardly we may have seemed fine before that, the struggle existed internally for me for years, as both of us ignored the underlying issue behind why I was throwing myself into my work, travels, and hobbies:

A gaping rift in who each of us were and are at our cores.

We didn’t see eye to eye on the very fundamentals of how we’d live life and what our future would look like.

While I’d be plotting out my next trip to South America or Europe or Africa, he’d be starting a new project on the house I desperately wanted to sell. While I’d be showing him how we could live forever on our savings in Goa or Chiang Mai and researching plane tickets, he’d be digging into work he was very passionate about – but that was very location dependent.

So in December, we had the conversation that we’d been putting off for so long:

Did we follow what I wanted to do, which was travel, explore, and adventure?

Or did we follow his preferred lifestyle of stability, foundation and roots?

And the answer was clear.

Either way, together one of us would lose. This isn’t just a case of compromising in our relationship. It extended far beyond that, into the territory of one of us having to try to be somebody we’re not to accommodate our marriage.

Should Vs. Want

I spent a large portion of my 20s squashing my sense of adventure, my wanderlust, and the person I really am – in favour of who I thought I was supposed to be and what I thought I should be doing.

This wasn’t an expectation put on me by my husband. It was an internal expectation brought on by something within myself, likely influenced by societal norms.

I didn’t want to be unreliable. I didn’t want to be inconsistent. I didn’t want to be unusual.

And somehow I subconsciously associated all of those undesirable qualities with adventure and the unknown. So I squashed this part of myself to accommodate the “shoulds”.

should go to college. 

I should get a job with a pension and benefits. 

I should buy a house, I should get married, I should have a healthy retirement savings account and a walk-in closet and 2.5 kids and a golden retriever. 

The problem with the shoulds is that they overshadow the wants if you let them. And I let them.

want to travel and adventure.

want to do work I love, with people who inspire me.

want to possess what I need and nothing more. I want to pursue relationships that feel “right”, that serve both people. I want to make smart (but fun!) decisions with my money that allows me to lead a lifestyle I can’t get enough of.

So I’ve shifted all of my shoulds to wants. 

As much as it makes me feel uneasy to have no idea what the future holds for me, the unknown actually feeds my creativity, my spark and this sense of rightness in me. And part of the reason Unsettle exists is because I gave myself permission to be more of myself. 

Unsettling means not settling, or removing yourself from the act of settling.

It means not settling for a life you don’t love. It means not settling for work you don’t love. It means not settling for relationships you don’t love.

And most importantly, it means not settling for a you you don’t love.

And don’t worry. I’m happier than I have ever been. Most of this happened months ago, and while it still feels a bit new to be homeless, this is my new normal now 🙂

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