Guys, squeal with me because I'm so thrilled to announce that I have Maggie Hall on my blog today! It's an amazing post and it really makes me want to carpe the hell out of this diem. And if you like the way she's written this [as much as I did!], definitely check out her book, The Conspiracy of Us.
How Maggie Hall Got Lost to Find Herself
[Note: the title is lame, I'm sorry. This is what happens when there isn't a title attached and I get creative.]
It wasn't even the traveling. I mean, the traveling was great. Amazing. One can never be exactly the same once one has searched for the Loch Ness monster and wandered the streets of Cambodia and accidentally dyed one’s hair platinum blonde in Romania and learned to do all one's laundry in the sink.
It wasn't exactly even the fact that I was traveling alone, though if I hadn't had the trial-by-fire of months of solo travel, I have no doubt I'd be a different person now. (Being alone is fun sometimes! Have you ever gone to a movie alone? You should try it.)
No, it was an epiphany I had a few months before I left on that trip. I'd graduated from college, and had no idea what to do with my life. I wasn't like a lot of my USC classmates, who knew they were going to law school immediately, or already had a job offer at Deloitte, or were moving to Manhattan Beach with ten friends. I graduated with degrees in psychology and Italian (yeah, what the heck was I going to do with that??), I had a long-term boyfriend back home in Albuquerque but wished I could move to a big city instead of going home, or that I could do something else exciting, though I had no idea what. I was pretty much lost.
One day, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table, feeling very sorry for myself and drinking a glass of wine and staring out the window and probably pretending I was the heroine in some dramatic movie. If I could do absolutely anything, I thought, my dream would be to travel for a few months. I'd already traveled a decent amount, but there was so much more of the world I wanted to see, and who knew when I'd have the chance again?
But I didn't have a lot of money. And I had this boyfriend. And everyone around me was being responsible and adult and getting jobs and houses--some were even married already. And who took off and traveled, besides hippies and Brits on Gap Year? I sighed at the impossibility of this crazy thing I'd probably never get to do, and drank some more wine.
And then, out of somewhere magical and mysterious, it hit me.
It wasn't like I'd never thought about actually doing it before. I'd looked into plane tickets, I'd read travel message boards, I'd even thought of what I'd bring to wear. But it always ended with me a little more depressed than I had been earlier, and a little bit resentful of the life that would never allow me to do what I really wanted. Until that day. That day, I thought...WHY NOT?
And it wasn't just a thought. It was this feeling, like someone had punched me in the gut and all of a sudden, I saw the world just a little differently than I ever had before. Why not just go? I could think of a million reasons why not, but deep down...none of them were real reasons. At that moment, I realized that I could do it. Sure, it would mean that I'd have to work two jobs and save up for a few months. It would mean that I'd leave the boyfriend (now husband) behind, since he'd just started a company and didn't want to leave. It would mean I'd be traveling alone. Most of all, it would mean that a lot of people would think I was crazy.
But I could do it. I could literally do WHATEVER I WANTED. Everything going on in my head was just excuses.
And so I just...went. It was the best decision I ever made, and the realization that I could do it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
There are a million excuses not to do anything. But if I really want to, I can decide to move to another city on a whim. Or quit a job I hate. Or head out again, many years later, now with my husband in tow, to be on the road around the world for a whole year. Or write a book! ;)
There are always going to be reasons not to do whatever it is you really want, but my hope for other people is that, one day, that little *snick* will happen for them, and they'll realize--not just intellectually, but really understand--that there are way more reasons to do it. You only have one life. Or, as my favorite fortune cookie ever says, "Tomorrow may be too late. Live today."
Maggie Hall indulges her obsession with distant lands and far-flung adventures as often as she can. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through the vibrant countryside of India. In her past life, she was a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager, and when she's not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and their cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she watches USC football and dabbles in graphic design. THE CONSPIRACY OF US is her first novel, and the second book in the trilogy, MAP OF FATES, will be out in early 2016.