So you’ve decided you want to travel the world. Good choice, if that’s the case then you are in the same spot I was in a year and a half ago.
I had been back in Chico, California for about a week. Hazel and I had decided we were done with school; we needed a break, desperately. We were going to take the whole next year off and backpack throughout the world; the problem was we hadn’t told anyone yet.
Telling my friends at school that I wasn’t coming back was a topic that was weighing heavily on my mind. They were already in full motion trying to find a place to live for the next year, and as far as they knew, I was part of that plan. I was honestly terrified about telling them, because once I did that, then I was in it, for real. As soon as I told them I would become one step removed. I worried I wouldn’t be someone to invest in anymore.
I wasn’t happy in Chico. I didn’t want to tell my friends that I was leaving because I was pretty sure that not being their roommate would push me out of their group once and for all. I was already on thin ice with them because of male related drama. It was a small incident but it changed our relationship for good.
But going home for break, and then coming back for the next semester had filled me with a new resolve. I was going to travel the world next year, but I still had months left in Chico and I was determined to find happiness there. I wanted to start fresh, make new friends who were more like me. I wanted to enjoy California and find the beauty in the people there.
I called my mom sobbing one night. I needed reassurance. I needed to know that what I was doing wasn’t completely fucking crazy. Like the good mother she is, she calmed me down enough to the point of thinking clearly. She told me I could wait to tell them if I wanted to, but I really did need to figure it out because it wasn’t fair to have them continue to look at places to live if they were going to be one roommate short.
I called Hazel later that night.
“Okay Hazel are you 100%, completely sure that you want to do this.” I said to her earnestly.
“Yeah of course I am!” She replied enthusiastically.
“Okay wow, I’m just kind of freaking out. I need to tell my friends but I don’t want something to happen later in the year that makes us not be able to go. Then, I really don’t know what I would do.”
“No, I’m totally in. I’m not going to bail out of our plan, we’re doing this.”
I decided I would tell my friends at a dinner we were going to downtown, we would all be together so I figured it was the perfect time.
It was way harder than I thought it was going to be. I was nervous the whole time, wondering when the best moment to bring it up would be. I kept opening my mouth to do it and then I’d wuss out. It took me until we were done with our food to summon up the courage.
“So guys, I have something to tell you.” I started, a little cautiously. “I’ve decided that I’m not coming back to Chico next year.”
The surprise at the table was audible.
“What are you going to do?” Someone asked.
“Well, while I was on break Hazel and I decided to take the next year off and do a backpacking trip around the world.”
“Wow, that’s so awesome!”
A response similar to that echoed from all around the table. I was immediately relieved. They were all curious, wondering what I was planning on doing, how I was going to pull it off, etc.
From that moment forward, I never second-guessed our decision to travel again. From then on, each time a new person asked where I was living next year I had a new answer for them – I’d be living out of a backpack.
I did what I meant to accomplish in Chico that second semester. I became part of a new group of friends, friends who I feel like I was always meant to find there. Friends who I could’ve have spent four years in Chico with, and I would’ve always been happy. Girls who are still my friends to this day. I’m still friends with many of the girls who I first met there, time heals all and although we went our separate ways, those girls made the first part of my college experience something I won’t forget.
As hard as it was going through my low-point at school, it also pushed me to make the decision to take a break. It pushed me to make the scariest and best decision of my life.
I spent that whole next semester daydreaming of the islands I would be sitting on in Asia and the wine I would be sipping on in Europe.
The actual dropping out of school process was much simpler than I thought it was going to be. All I had to do was sign a paper. I was in the present but my future was just so exciting, math class got harder, that’s for damn sure.
When my final day in Chico rolled around I was sad to go. I cried as I drove out of town, but I never regretted my choice. I had done what I needed to do. I never gave up and in the end I had found happiness there.
I got back to Boulder in mid-may. Hazel and I were aiming for departure in November. I had six full months in Boulder before we set out. I had my job lined up, slinging pizza and beer at Old Chicago, and I was ready for what laid ahead.
Little did I know, life had another curve ball waiting for me, and he was sitting in Old Chicago at table 21.
Read the third installment of this series: How to Travel the World: Leaving Love
Read the first installment of this series: How to Travel the World: Saying Yes