Quarantine Update, Travel Plans & Societal Pressure

When I don’t have much work, I’ve found that I turn to creative outlets as a way to pass time. Whether that be someone else’s creativity or my own, it helps me escape for a couple of hours from the reality of what this life has turned in to. I avoid social media and binge watching TV during the day at all costs. Not because I don’t enjoy these things, but the thought of laying in bed watching TV or scrolling through other peoples mindless quarantine thoughts makes me nauseous. It breeds insecurity in me that I would rather avoid.

It’s been so easy lately to get caught up in my head. I question if and when things will go back to normal. I have small panic attacks at the thought of never being able to travel again. I wonder if I will be able to survive the next 65 years if this is all life will become for us. I honestly think a lot of it has to do with the weather. I normally wouldn’t notice something as insignificant as the weather since my days used to be filled with going to work, meeting my girlfriend for lunch, my second job, going to the gym, etc. but lately, when going outside seems to be my only true form of entertainment and exercise, it’s all I notice.

I don’t check my social media when I wake up first thing in the morning anymore. I check the weather; can I sit on the porch and drink my morning tea? Can I read or write in the sun? Can I do yoga in the yard? Can we go for a walk after work or a hike this weekend? Most likely, the obvious answer is no.

So instead, I have been filling my days with reading and writing, working as much as I can, trying to convince myself to exercise and stretch and trying to create content. I would like to blog more, and I think I’ve said this in past posts, but I struggle with inspiration sometimes. I don’t want to feel forced to meet a self-enforced deadline of weekly posts. I’d rather write when I have something to write about. This keeps my posts more authentic and true to the feelings I’m having.

If I wrote every week, it would be the typical “15 Books to Read in Quarantine” or “15 Best YouTube Quarantine Workouts” and no one wants to read something like that. Disclaimer: No one wants to write something like that either. No offense to those who write these articles but those are reserved for people who want recognition but don’t actually have a single creative bone in their body or affinity for writing.

I picture some of the other journalists in my graduating class doing something similar. Truly, there should be a written requirement before you’re accepted into any journalism program because I can’t even put into words how torturous it was to go over some of our written work in class and listening to how clunky and grammatically incorrect some of these “journalists” work was. If that’s the type of person that is being groomed nation wide to be responsible for insightful, true journalism, no wonder the media is in so much trouble. I’m just glad the majority of those students in my class went on to become fashion and beauty bloggers.

Not that I’m doing anything monumental myself but at least it’s because I didn’t want to and not because I didn’t have the talent for it. Whoops.

I’m getting off topic. Back to creating content, my girlfriend and I posted our first YouTube video last night if anyone wants to check it out. Creating content with someone you’re in a relationship is actually incredibly fun. It takes the pressure off of what’s going on around us and we can focus on each other and just messing around on camera. It’s created a lightness in our relationship that hasn’t been there these last couple of weeks. Life has been terribly stressful and putting aside time to come up with interesting videos we want to film has brought an element to our relationship that we didn’t know we needed.

We’ve also been planning our next trip for when all of this is over. Jumping into that headfirst has been really fun as well. I know a lot of people and couples are probably doing the same thing. When I was battling my anxiety and depression, someone told me that having something to look forward to can drastically change your mood. Whenever I’m feeling low or anxious, I try to plan little things (dates, concerts, movies, etc.) so I’m excited about something in the future. This has proved to be the best way to get through a situation like this, at least for me.

As for what’s been going on in our personal lives, neither of us have lost our jobs. I don’t know who to thank for that because I don’t really believe in a God but the universe has been on our side lately. I did lose my second job for the time being (which contributed to my savings for the home we want to buy one day) and I took a 20% pay cut on my current income but I really have nothing to complain about. I feel so lucky to have a steady income right now even if it’s not as much as it was a few weeks ago.

This whole experience is making me question the monetary value of things. And all I’m going to say is that this questioning is what has inspired the next trip we are going to take. I guess at this point, I’ve alluded to it so much I should just announce our plans. In April of 2022, we are planning to leave our jobs and take 6-7 months to travel across the country in a camper van. We’ve mapped our route at this point and have talked to a handful of people looking to sell their camper vans. We’ve been researching, looking into campgrounds and national parks and budgeting for this big jump we want to take.

At least for me, I want to test the boundaries of my dependency on money and challenge myself to live minimalistically without a set income. If you’ve followed me along from the beginning, you know I’ve already done this when I lived on the road with Rob for 5 months but Rob and I weren’t dating (contrary to what everyone believes) and he had a lot of experience on the road to the point where I could depend on him to keep us safe, navigate and make any necessary repairs given the knowledge of his home on wheels. If you’ve followed me along from the beginning, you also know that I am the happiest when I don’t feel stagnant and I can travel.

With this experience, it’ll be entirely new from start to finish as we navigate our way through purchasing a dependable home for 7 months, living on the road and our relationship. I read a book recently that I recommend everyone reads called To Shake the Sleeping Self about a man who takes 16 months to cycle from Oregon to Patagonia. The intro paragraph is what inspired this trip.

He talked a lot about childhood and how we are so full of wonder and awareness of our surroundings and what we do. As we get older, we slowly feel the societal pressure to go to college, get a good job, marry the opposite gender, buy a home, have kids, etc. in that order and we forget our feelings of wonder and adventure. We forget how we once felt as kids and we forget how to be happy. We become too focused on what we “need” to do and we forget what we’ve craved since we were children – happiness, awareness, curiosity, total awe of our surroundings, adventure.

At 27, he makes a pact with himself that he is going to quit his job at 30 and make this life changing trip in an attempt to discover who he really is (his sexuality, his religion, the meaning of life). The first thing he did was tell his friends and family about what he was going to do in an attempt to hold himself accountable for his future plans. That way he couldn’t back out when it was time to really leave. So I guess that’s what I’m doing; holding myself accountable for my plans by voicing it to the universe and my readers. You heard it here first: April 2022. Cross-country road trip. 

This is something I have felt like I needed to do since I realized how big the world was but I never felt like I had the time or the money. Honestly, who ever feels like they have the time or the money to do things. No one because we’ve become so dependent on financial/job security that we forget the real purpose of life. It’s not to work until we die. It’s not to save up as much as we can so we have a better retirement. Life is meant to be lived. No matter how rich or how poor you may be, none of it matters if you aren’t happy. I want to challenge this feeling of dependency I have on myself and my financial security.  I want to challenge myself to do something wholeheartedly because I want to. And I want to challenge those who read this to think about the one thing you’ve always wanted to do and what excuses you’ve come up with for why you can’t. Then comment them because I’m curious.

This novel really changed my outlook on life and really inspired me to do something with mine. Not just sit back and wait for time to catch up to me. This whole quarantine thing has slowed time down to an aching crawl but it’s also given me plenty of time to think about the direction I want to take my life and the way I want to live it. I think I’ve struggled to find my voice and my own way of thinking because of what my parents want for me. But I’ve gotten to that age where I’m realizing it’s OK to want something else for my life than what they envisioned. And it’s also OK to have different opinions and values than they do.

I’m really lucky to have parents that support the majority of my choices but I don’t need to apologize when they don’t. After all, the whole point of life is to discover your own identity and what makes you the happiest. If we lived to please other people, especially our parents, we would be more disappointed in ourselves than we would be proud. Going off of that, I often struggle with my relationship with my parents. On the one hand, I have very involved parents, which is great, but on the other hand, their involvement often influences me negatively and makes me feel like I need to live my life to please them.

I’ve learned that taking space from your family is OK. You’re not obligated to have someone in your life, even if they’re your blood. This took me a while to understand. I felt a pressing sense of guilt for being angry at my parents or disagreeing with them. I often felt like I had no choice but to apologize and mend things because we lived under the same roof or because they’re my parents. Now that I’ve moved out, it’s freeing to stand my ground and take the space I think I have deserved for some time now. I feel like I can breath again, and on my own. I’ve taken back a sense of power that I didn’t know I had lost.

I want to end this on a positive note and list some of my favorite books that I’ve read. You can get them used for $2.50 ish on amazon. They’re all different genres and styles but they’re good reads if you’re running low on your stock.

  1. To Shake The Sleeping Self – Jedidiah Jenkins (Genre: non-fiction, memoir, adventure, self-discovery)
  2. Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult (Genre: fiction, murder, cultural)
  3. The Shining/Doctor Sleep (Series)- Stephen King (Genre: fiction, paranormal, horror)
  4. Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn (Genre: fiction, psychological thriller, suspense)
  5. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (Genre – historical fiction)
  6. The Taker Trilogy – Alma Katsu (Genre: fiction, paranormal romance, fantasy)
  7. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes – Brad Ricca (Genre: historical non-fiction, true crime, biography)
  8. A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout (Genre: non-fiction, suspense/thriller, biography)
  9. Road to Valor – Andres McConnon (Genre: historical non-fiction, heart-warmer, suspense, biography)

As always, thank you for reading and I hope you all are staying safe, healthy and sane during these crazy times.

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