I grew up in a little no-name town in the American midwest. It was the kind of place where you ate apple pie, tail-gated baseball games and made damn sure you were married with kids right after college. By the time I graduated high school, being married with kids was considered the ultimate benchmark of accomplishment. So like a dutiful midwest girl, I tried to go with the flow.
For most of my 20s.
However, as the years ticked by I found myself growing more and more miserable. I already had a husband, a career track job and a home; but I´d been harboring dreams of traveling the world and living abroad since I was a kid. Despite having taken some exotic vacations, my dreams had largely gone unfufilled. I felt like my soul was starving for nourishment, like I was drowning yet thirsty at the same time.
So I decided to pull the plug on my life.
No more mind numbing meetings about nothing at my cliche corporate job. No more shopping in predictable chain stores or having pointless arguments over mundane life details. After I spent a summer living in Kenya (volunteering at a school), I knew I wanted to live outside my home country which had, truthfully, always felt like a lead weight wrapped around my neck, strangling the life from me.
My family and friends struggled to understand my choices at first. I also gave it the ol´college try at convincing my (now ex) husband we could have an amazing life somewhere else, doing something we actually found fufilling vs. just working for a paycheck.
He wasn´t on board. At. All.
Turns out he´d been waiting patiently for me to come around and realize that a house in the suburbs and kids would fill the yawning void of a lack of purpose in my soul.
So as hard as it was, I let him go and set my sights on a new horizon.
I´d chosen a small island in the Caribbean to plant my flag and start over at the not so tender age of 29 years old. Everyone told me I was insane to trade my good job and so called amazing life for an uncertain future.
Ten years later, I´ve run my own businesses, traveled and lived in many countries and recently settled down in Bolivia and got remarried.
And the kicker to this story? I´m only one of literally thousands of people making the exact same choices to escape similar lives. So why the trending movement to pull up stakes and ditch a life that from all outward appearances, seems pretty great?
Well, there are a few reasons:
Traditional adulthood is boring as hell.
Let´s be real here. Stationary is the antithesis of excitement. There´s nothing wrong with living a more traditional lifestyle, but the problem arises from the simple fact: Life isn´t “one size fits all”. While some people crave comfort zones and the same routines, others thrive in diverse and ever changing environments. Neither way is wrong, but more and more people have woken to the fact they´re like me and are pursuing a more creative life path.
Traditional adulthood is expensive.
The overall cost of living in most countries has risen dramatically in the past 40-50 years, leaving a more traditional life almost beyond the reach of a dwindling middle class.
Unless, of course, you´re willing to go into crippling amounts of credit card debt.
As a result, people are exploring options that won´t leave them broke and indebted for the rest of their lives.
Fun fact: Most people I´ve met traveling (myself included), live on significantly less money than they did living stationary lives. So in some cases, it just makes financial sense.
In a traditional lifestyle, the focus is having stuff vs. experiences.
Many of my friends are “traditionalists” and are always craving the latest and greatest cars, clothes, phones and other trends. Because this is how most people find satisfaction at the end of the day. When I told one of my friends that I sold my car so I could experience an epic sunrise on a mountain top in East Africa, I was greeted by a confused silence on the other end of the phone.
Because having a car is one of many essential trappings of a traditional lifestyle. To be without these items would be like trying to breathe without oxygen.
However for the new horizon searchers, it´s all about the experiences. It´s the only currency we truly respect. Your $5K high def TV and brand new Rolex hold no weight here.
Family and relationship dynamics have changed. A LOT!
Before what I call the “new horozion” movement even began, the institution of family and relationships had been undergoing a serious renovation. People were no longer gutting it out in abusive or unfufilling relationships out of fear of what others might think if they got a (gasp) divorce. People started leaving crappy, soul sucking jobs in search of something better because let´s face it, there´s a million ways to pay the bills.
Single and divorced parents had taken the reins and started raising families on their own. The very definition of what even qualifies as a successful partnership changed completely.
And with these glorious new society innovations came the realization that people no longer had to choose between a traditional lifestyle or never having a loving partner and family. I´ve met dozens of traveling families or those just living and working remotely while raising their kids. I have met happy couples who spent years wandering the globe and only go “back home” to visit their stationary family.
I´ve met single, middle age women who took a fabulous new job in a different country and never looked back. It´s literally a brave new world out there for those with a pioneer spirit!
What´s important to understand is that today, we live in a global economy and have opportunities, as adults, that previous generations could never have imagined.
And with this updated business model for life comes a flood of new potential.
So if this article has you salivating and your heart racing, then take it from someone who knows: The life you´ve always dreamed of is possible.
Until next time, keep wandering folks.