The past few weeks have gone by extremely fast but at this point I’m at the end of my doctoral journey. It’s been a long six years and I can’t believe that I have been in school consistently since 2008. That’s an entire decade of my life that I can’t get back. I haven’t even decided to real if it’s been worth it. However, I think that so far it has. I’ve had the opportunity to work full time and live in multiple places while working on my education. But now it’s time to make new goals as the ink on the new initials after my name continue to dry. I need to find something meaningful and while traditionally I’ve found that in education, I’m open for a change. If I’m being honest, I’d love to spend some dedicated time addressing my rotted carcass of a love life but that could be problematic and it isn’t a guaranteed win. It’s a hope. Needless to say, I have to fill my time with other things than school at this point. It’s going to be weird not having a paper due or assignments to complete. Right now my focus is on my job search and figuring out where I’ll be living next. I want to enjoy the feeling of completing the highest degree that one can earn but it just feels somewhat hollow at this point. It’s not a letdown but it’s just weird. I want to start writing more on a creative basis and I’ve been doing better so far this year with making in-person connections with people. I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect and have already traveled to Europe once this year. I would love to do more traveling but most of all I think I also want a real “home base” for once. Like an actual home/apartment where I live permanently. I want my life post-PhD to involve getting settled down at some point and moving to a different chapter that could possibly include marriage and kids. However, it’s going to take a huge shift in focus and being deliberate in creating the life that I want. I’m determined but I need to plan so that I know the next thing I’m working towards. I have to fill this empty space of time.
One thing that I often encourage my clients to do is to get outside of their comfort zone once in a while. This often takes the form of encouraging them to travel somewhere. That’s why I really liked this article about traveling that’s written by a therapist. You can read it here. There’s nothing like doing something while going out your comfort zone. There’s the opportunity for learning more about yourself and the world around you when you go somewhere. You have the chance to experience a new culture and navigate in an unfamiliar environment where you don’t necessarily have the backup of friends and family. Solo travel can be daunting but that’s the fun part about working through your reluctance. The more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know. But it’s all about taking the first step and doing it–because let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to do things while scared because it’s something your future self will thank you for.
I can’t lie. I absolutely love going to the beach. There’s just something inherently peaceful about large bodies of water. Last week I went to south Florida to spend some time on the beach and it was absolutely amazing. Even though I came back with a mild sunburn as a souvenir, it was worth it. One day I’ll live close to a beach and sit out every day for a little bit.
I’m often asked by people how it is that I travel so much. The short answer is that I don’t. I’m not independently rich and I didn’t pick a profession that is known for big paychecks. Most of my days are spent working at a job that may or may not include weekends or regular hours. The only time I consistently post on social media is when I’m away from the mundane so naturally it appears that I go somewhere all the time. I was the girl who always wanted to travel growing up. I loved road trips and seeing new places. When my dad was on business trips he took the whole family along and we went all over the Southeast tagging behind him. I remember as a little girl always being fascinated by aviation. My first plane trip was when I was 17 years old and I was hooked. Traveling solo happened naturally when I took a leap of faith and decided to move across the country from Alabama to Denver. I was a senior in college and took a few days off to fly out and scope out the land. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned the importance of seeing new places. The world that we live in is progressively getting worse and sometimes you have to remind yourself that everything isn’t all bad all the time. Even if it’s just for a little bit. I’m due for another vacation soon and it can’t come fast enough.
There’s something about the month of May that makes me reconsider my entire life. It’s like an internal check-in to evaluate how the year has gone up to this point. It’s also my half-birthday month–which is another reminder that I only have 6 months to go until I’m a year older. Last year around this time I was living in Atlanta and working in a job I didn’t really love. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and I’m happy to say that I’ve had the chance to travel a bit more because that was one of the things I resolved to do last May. Since then I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Spain, England, France, Italy, Monaco, and Malta. In addition to that I quit my job and moved across the country to California. It’s been eventful to say the least but I’ve learned a lot and have also acquired a new skill set. Working in a busy hospital and coordinating care will definitely have you learning a lot of new medical terminology that you didn’t learn in graduate school. I also decided to try my hand at teaching and am now facilitating a class of 16 graduate students in a weekly online class. It’s been challenging but fun so far. A lot of decisions were made last May and we’ll see what happens this year.
I honestly can’t believe that the month of May is here. It seems like January was just yesterday. There’s so many things that I want to accomplish this year and none of them seem quite feasible with a normal 9-5 job. So we’ll see what happens. I think it may be time to move back across the country and do something different. I’m definitely greeting this next half of the year with a greater sense of purpose and desire to travel more–or at least spend less time working. Just gotta keep pushing.
I have to admit that I tend to be an all or nothing type of person. While I try my best to be flexible, I’m happier when things go my way. Traveling has become a pretty big hobby for me now but I find that it’s difficult to switch between vacation mode and work mode. Weekend trips are great but they tend to end too soon and it’s hard to not think about work when you have 48 hours before you have to go back. It’s easier for me to work hard for a period of time and then go exploring than to switch back and forth. I like longer vacations because I think that it actually gives you time to unwind and relax. As much as a regular job with minimal time off can be exhausting, it’s important to have something to look forward to as motivation. When I’m in work mode I’m a homebody. I’m focused and I’m counting down the days to vacation. I’m not looking for new places to explore because I’m focused on doing what I need to do in order to take a much needed break.