Do you ever find yourself five minutes into complaining about how much your job sucks and how busy you are and how much money you don’t have and then realize, mildly mortified, that you’re talking to your unemployed friend who’s been facing rejection after rejection, if they’re lucky enough to even receive so much as a rejection, for months now?
I sort of just realized that I’m totally the complainer. Everywhere I go people are always like, “Oh my gosh, your trip is so awesome!” “You’re so brave!” “That’s so cool!” “I wish I could do a trip like that!” “Someday…” “You’re so lucky!” “I’m so jealous.” To which I usually, self-deprecatingly, reply, “Yeah, but…”
Yeah, but I don’t have a job.
Yeah, but I’m not a “real person.”
Yeah, but I might not finish.
Yeah, but I don’t know what I’m going to do when I run out of money.
Yeah, but I have no idea what I’m going to do when the trip is over or if I’ll even have the money to do whatever it is if and when I figure it out.
Yeah, but traveling is exhausting.
Yeah, but I’m not exercising enough.
Yeah, but I’m eating really poorly.
Yeah, but I spend a lot of time driving.
Yeah, but sometimes the weather sucks.
Yeah, but I’ve seen so many Van Gogh’s lately, I’m so over him.
Yeah, but…another museum?!
Yeah, but…another cute small town with overpriced cute boutiques?
Yeah, but another cool bookstore?
Yeah, but another box store laden suburb…
Yeah, but you’re right.
You’re absolutely right. My trip is awesome. I am brave. 50 States in 50 Weeks is cool. I’m sure you would like to take a trip like this, someday… I am lucky. And you probably are jealous.
And I finally realize and recognize my privilege and the amazing opportunity that has presented itself before me because I was brave enough to take a risk, jump into the unknown, and see what happened. And I have to tell you, it’s been incredibly rewarding, in ways I never could have imagined when I started.
I just found a list I made when I was a senior in college. It was a list of all the states I’d been to. Since I’m a nerd I had it organized. The list starts with Alaska and Hawaii and then lists the rest of the states from top to bottom left to right. The list even has a legend. Yep, I’m that kid…
Bold states are states I’ve slept in, i.e., states I’ve visited, gotten out of the car in, and done something in. Underlined states are states I’ve driven through and bold italic states are states I’ve lived in. I think there used to be a category that was just italic, like maybe for states I only got gas in or something, but at some point I must have changed the system and left the rest the way they were. Anyway, so I found this list today, and because my computer crashed over the summer and I lost everything from the last two years it hadn’t been updated in a while, so I updated it.
It was as I was finishing updating the list that I really realized for the first time since I started my trip how freaking cool this trip is. Prior to the start of the trip I’d slept in nineteen states, driven through eight states, and lived in six. That’s a total of thirty three states I’d at least been inside the boarders of. As of today, I’ve now slept in twenty-nine states, reduced the number of states I’ve just driven through to only four, and still lived in just six states. Which means that now I’ve been to/through thirty-nine states. At the age of twenty-five I’ve lived in twelve percent of the United States, I’ve slept in fifty-eight percent of the states, and I’ve been inside the boarders of eight percent of the states. Meaning, altogether I’ve ventured into seventy eight percent of the United States. That’s amazing. And I’m not done yet. And I’m not quitting any time soon. And I’m going to work on being gracious and accepting your compliments and words of encouragement and jealousy and stop being so self-depreciating, because I may be homeless and jobless and a little lost, but I chose not to have a home or a job and I chose to go on this trip to try to find my person and my purpose and whatever else it is I’m looking for even if I don’t know it yet and I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the well wishes along the way, so thank you. All of you. For your support and encouragement and well wishes. I couldn’t do this without you.