All right, it’s an e-ticket in my email Inbox. And it’s for 3 months from now. But that doesn’t do anything to loosen the knot in my stomach – the one that formed in the 2 torturous weeks before I made my decision, as I battled guilt and fear: can I really travel full-time? What if I fail?
As the eldest child in a typical middle-class Singaporean family, I’ve been bound by my sense of duty for the past few years of working life. I remember thinking in my final year of university: I’m going to get a great job and climb the corporate ladder. In a few years’ time I’ll be able to buy Mum whatever she wants and help her with my brother’s course fees. Yet now, three years later, I’m doing the “irresponsible” thing – I’m quitting my job to travel. I’m going to chase my dream.
I can no longer bear the thought of squeezing my soul into an office cubicle. It’s why I went for the challenge and excitement of joining a startup instead of a huge corporation, the compromise I made in exchange for not choosing writing as a livelihood (because, of course, Asian parents know there’s no money or future to be had from that). But I’m no longer content. I want to travel, write, and write about travel if I can. I need to feel alive, not die an emotionless zombie (this only surfaced after I’d bought my ticket, ok?)
When I tell people of my plan the reedy envy in their voices remind me that I’m simply attempting to do what I love, the way some people live for hedge fund management or making specialty coffee. And that leads to the fear: that I won’t have the grit and discipline to work hard, let alone succeed, at full-time travel when ornate old buildings and kitschy cafés and dark streets lined with half-shuttered shops beckon. That I’ll end up treating this as just another holiday and then return to this comfortable, banal existence.
But fear is good. Fear of failure is what drives me. There are a ton of things I need to prepare before departure, and I’m nowhere near being financially or mentally prepared. I’m giving myself these three months and every single step I take toward this journey has me jumping in pure excitement. Right now, every morning when I step into the office and almost every night as I crash into bed, six words ring in my head. I can’t wait to be gone.