Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all of your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into the flames of achievement.Golda Meir
I am starting this blog to catalog my journey over the course of this next year. As turning 30 loomed large in 2018, I had a lot of anxiety. For some reason, this number had some kind of mystical hold on me. It felt like a death sentence, a judgment, and a slap in the face all rolled into one. I was going to be officially “adult.” I would no longer be “young,” could no longer “be adventurous,” should no longer take risks. I was to be “mature” and “responsible.” And, yet how could this be possible when I felt so unsettled, so disconnected and lonely?
For the previous five years, my life has been consumed by a certain type of ambition and the prospect of achieving one goal–becoming a lawyer. I studied hard for the LSAT, studied hard in law school, and worked hard in my jobs thereafter. I finally “made it.” I had achieved what I set out to do, and yet, I did not recognize myself. What had it cost me in the process? I realized that outside of the loving familial relationships and friendships I had cultivated, I really did not take pride in any single area of my life anymore. I used to be a person full of passions and interests, and I had become numb. Everything I did and all my interactions were at arms-length. I had become totally cynical and world-weary. When the dreaded birthday finally came in December, and in the transpiring weeks between that and the New Year, I made a promise to myself in 2019, in my 30th year, I would do things differently than in the past and turn the so-called “negatives” in my life into a positive. Yes, I was unmoored, but this also meant I was unchained to any person or place or thing and I could do literally anything! I was actually incredibly lucky.
And so, I decided to turn the dreaded 30 on its head. I did something 20-year-old me would NEVER have done, and I took a risk. I felt my fear and I did it anyway. Me, who did not step on planes for years out of fear, who stayed the course and always made the responsible, methodical, rational decision, decided to brazenly quit my cushy job that I had worked so hard for, leaving behind a crushingly massive amount of student debt that will continue to accrue interest, and invest in myself. *Gulp* And so, the same 20-year-old who refused to board a plane, will now be a 30-year-old who will be traveling and living in a different country every month for a year on a program called Remote Year. I will be doing this with a diverse group of adults from all over the world, hopefully making wonderful connections and memories in the process. Importantly, I am not putting any pressure on myself to achieve any outcome– I could come home after a month, or travel for longer than a year, or anything in between. Any result would be a success, because I will be doing it on my terms, finally, and not out of fear or for some external measure of success or validation.
Many of the people I have told have two reactions. Number one: “I’m so jealous, you’re so brave, I wish I had the balls to do the same thing.” I’m not special. While I recognize quitting your job to travel the world is not actually feasible for many people for financial, familial, or other valid reasons, there is no reason why you can’t do whatever your version of that “if only” thing you always told yourself you would do, if only, within the bounds of your life’s responsibilities. Hopefully, my journey can serve as a little inspiration!
The second reaction I got was: “But what are you going to do after? What about your career? What’s your PLAN?” I don’t blame people for this question at all, it’s reasonable and makes perfect sense to ask. The answer is I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I want to enjoy the not-knowing. I want to be open to any and all of the infinite possibilities that could come my way. I also want to be open to the possibility of completely crashing and burning, and recognizing that will be ok too. I realize now how tied we are to outcomes and prognostications and plans. They can be suffocating, debilitating, demoralizing. I am allowing myself to breathe deeply and fully for the first time in a long, long time.
I hope you will follow along on my journey. I will try to be as open and honest as possible about my experience and I welcome any and all comments/thoughts/questions. Also, please follow me on social media for fun pictures and updates. Additionally, any and all visitors are welcome along the way, my itinerary is linked above!
WHOOP WHOOP!! Can’t wait to see where your adventure takes you!! And I’m loving Abigail “don’t know, don’t want to know” Zeitlin! 🙂
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So proud of the 30 year old Abby you’ve become! One thing I know for sure is law school turned you into a very talented writer. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say over the next year. We are cheering you on!!
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Abby Z this is awesome, love the deep thoughts! Can’t wait for the next entry!
Go Abby, go Abby, go!!! Even if a lot of people would/could do something like this / their “if only”, it takes a lot of courage and strength to not only acknowledge that you could be happier, but to also then DO something about it. (And also to very eloquently summarize it for the world to read! <3) I'm so exited to follow along on your journey!! Xoxo
Thank you for your constant encouragement and support. The fact that you are never afraid to try new things and walk your own path serves as so much inspiration for me! So privileged to be able to witness your journey! ❤
Yes Gale! You go girl!!!!
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