One day, I woke up and I hated my life.
The thought took me by surprise. There were so many ways in which I was truly lucky. I had a great fiance that I thought I loved (we're now divorced, 11 months of a horrible marriage and kaput), I lived in New York City (once upon a time, my favorite place in the world) and I was a newly graduated young attorney with a bright future ahead. I had a rich emotional life filled with family and friends. I should have been happily living life and discovering how to "adult" like any theoretically well-adjusted millennial New Yorker. But I wasn't. And it was only later I learned that the idea of being "well-adjusted" was a fallacy I had created for myself.
Fast forward a few years: out of the horrible marriage, out of NYC, closer to family and building a rich and full life in a new city (Orlando). Best of all, I had finally found my "fit" with a law firm. I didn't love it, but who really did love practicing law, I told myself. It was a good, stable career that would provide me with a good, stable income so that I could... what? What was it that I was building this stable career and income for? I didn't plan to have kids, I didn't want to get married again, and I was already imagining a life in which I only answered to myself and had no significant financial responsibilities (like, for example, college for the kids I'd never have).
I was also taking care of myself. I was running, I was CrossFitting, I was socializing, I was doing everything theoretically "right."
I was also taking St. John's Wort three times a day to avoid going on a stronger, prescription-strength anti-depressant because somehow, something still felt off.
Now, in my new city, with my new job, I still woke up every day and hated my life. But now, the hatred came in a new flavor: complete with a generous helping of salty guilt attached for knowing that I was truly very fortunate and lucky to have all the things I did but still, like a spoiled brat, wanted some elusive "more" out of life.
Retrospectively, I should have known that growing up wasn't going to be pretty, but we're fed a solid lie from the moment we're able to internalize what "growing up" really means. We're told growing up looks like college, then maybe grad school, working hard, wine with friends, maybe marriage, maybe babies, concerts, successful days at work, making a lot of money and a general progression to being a "productive and stable" member of society. Whatever that means.
Until now, I've tried to fit in a box filled with money, and stability, and relationships, and a "professional" career, and the whole while been wandering what's wrong with me that I can't seem to sit still. Finally, for the first time in my life, I don't care if anything is wrong with me: I'm ready to embrace who I really am.
I'm turning 30 next month and while I've been worried about this age coming, I've spent enough time with myself, at last, to know that although, by all accounts, I'm immensely lucky, my happiness is never going to come from the stability that comes with building a legal career with a giant salary; it's never going to come from buying a house and staying in one place; it's never going to come from having children; it's never going to come from building a romantic relationship; and it's certainly never going to come from trying to do what anyone else might prescribe for my life.
Turning 30, it turns out, has taught me that self-discovery never ends, that today won't look the same as yesterday or tomorrow, and that in order to live your life the way you want you actually have to live your life the way you want.
So, last week, I quit my high-paying associate attorney position to travel the world.
I have no semblance of a real plan yet, other than I plan to travel the States first, to give myself time to learn how to work on the road and travel safely, then South America, then Asia, then... for the first time in my life, I truly have no idea what comes next.
I have no idea yet if this journey will be the best decision I've ever made or the worst, if I'm bettering myself so that I can ultimately do better things for the world or if I'm selfishly self-indulging. But here's the rub: it doesn't matter.