Business Travel, Travel Narrative

One Year Later: On Choosing a Life of Travel

This is the most recent photo I have of myself. It was taken last Thursday, in a place I'd never been before and will never be again. This is my new life.

This is the most recent photo I have of myself. It was taken last Thursday, in a place I’d never been before and will never be again. This is my new life.

One year ago today, potted plant and small box of personal possessions in hand, I walked out of my classroom, down the hall, down the stairs, and out the door of the school where I’d worked (mostly) happily for nine years.  It was the scariest thing I’d ever done.

I left a perfectly good job–working in a great school surrounded by coworkers I loved both as professionals and as people–to take a chance at something I thought I might possibly love more.  Something at which I may have seriously failed; something at which I still may seriously fail.  People thought I was crazy.  (People were right.)

My decision to leave the classroom was not based on a dislike of teaching.  Most people, myself included, choose a career because it sounds like what they want to do.  But they put little thought into the lifestyle they are choosing.  The lifestyle of a teacher–being confined to a classroom five days per week, ten months per year, often teaching the same content multiple times per day–did not suit me (now that is an understatement).  Every day was the same as the day before and every year was the same as the previous year.  It is not a bad lifestyle.  But it is not the lifestyle for me.

So when given the chance to continue teaching, but to do so in a role that allowed–nay, required–constant travel, I took it.  It was a risky proposition–I am technically now self-employed–and I knew that there was a very real possibility that it would end in financial and/or professional ruin.  I told myself I’d not take a breath until at least a year had passed.

Well, here I am.  And I’m breathing.

In the past year, I’ve had the honor of working with and for dozens (and dozens) of amazing, talented, brilliant people.  I’ve worked with educators from coast to coast, I’ve taught in classrooms in inner cities and in tiny farming communities, and I’ve been offered opportunities I’d never have had, had I stayed in my safe, risk-free classroom.  I’ve done all of this while also being able to see more of the country in one month than I could have in one year.  At least once per week (sometimes more than once per day) I cannot believe that this is my life.

Has it been easy? Hell no.  Are there days and weeks when I struggle, when I cry actual tears?  Hell yes.  Am I exhausted?  There are no words.  But really, there is very little in life that is both easy and worth doing (other than, say, drinking wine.)  And I know that I’m becoming a stronger person because of it.

It was my hope that by stepping off the path I was on, I’d find a new path.  In that, I was wrong.  I did not step off of one path onto another.  I jumped into a raging river.  Yes, it is scary.  Yes, there are rapids and doldrums.  But damn, it is fun.

That first terrifying step out of my classroom–and out of my comfort zone–prepared me for all of the scary steps to come.  In the last 365 days, I’ve done scores of frightening things.  You know, like driving in LA (and Chicago and Boston and Miami), making a tight connection in Atlanta, and filing my first 1099 (eeek!)  And it’s funny–all of those things that used to terrify me?  They don’t seem so awful anymore.  

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