By definition, a sabbatical is a period of time away from work which is agreed upon with your employer. The word sabbatical can be interchanged with “career break” or my favorite term, the “adult gap year”. The one thing about a sabbatical is that you will get to come back to the same job, or in my case, maybe not. After working for nearly 30 years in the same industry, I’m ready to retire. However, the term retirement doesn’t sit well with me because, in the end, I’ll have to do something for “work” since I’m still a relatively young man, and well, I can’t tap into my retirement account until a few more years. However, I do know this, I need to stop doing now what I’ve been doing for almost 3 decades. I’ve burnt myself out. “Adult gap year”, yes, please.
Maybe this revelation to pause work came with aging, or maybe I’m just going crazy as I get older. Maybe it comes when you reach a point in life where you feel comfortable enough, secure in yourself, and are not willing to just live out your life to only fade away. Maybe it comes when you finally learn to fully embrace your fears and do it anyway, knowing that things, big or small, will work out as they always have in the past. Maybe I can finally trust in The Universe, grow, and just go with the flow of life. Right now, I truly feel that life’s options are limitless by pursuing personal growth, feeling gratitude, and seeking happiness.
This new thinking has way more merit today for me and I’m ready to open myself to shift, pivot, and shape in new directions in the pursuit of my personal dreams and desires. Right now, I can’t see clearly what my future holds in the next 1, 2, 5, 10, 20+ years of life and it’s “OK”, I’m comfortable with it. I can tell you what is not in my future, and that is just staying in one proverbial place, doing the same thing day in and day out, for each of my final living days. Because, to me, that’s not really living, it’s just conforming to what we are conditioned to strive for, safety & complacency. I want more, whatever that is. I haven’t yet figured it out, but do I even need to figure it out right now?
Like many of my generation, we either entered the workforce or college right out of high school and never had a gap year(s) for a chance to figure life out, to expand beyond textbook education. Then came adulting, family, and bills and our energy and time went into building a career, security, and for me, shelving my dreams and desires to think and live freely, which was a flame that burned deeply as a youth. That flame was blown out by the fear that I’ll never have enough money to survive or let alone, retire like the TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.
So off I went to build a career at all costs, sequestering my “what if”, “crazy” desires to pause for a moment (or 6 months), so I can understand life and understand myself. I maintained the determination to keep climbing, with a goal to reach the top, to reach for the stars and beyond. The destination was financial success and “the good life”. Confusion sets in. What qualifies as “the good life”? Is it really only measured in dollars? What about happiness, joy, and wellness? Who sets these so-called success standards anyways; banks, our government, our media? Listen, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with working, it’s a necessity to living. However, in the end, work shouldn’t be the only thing that defines us as a person. And I’m sure not going to die at my desk, working towards that type of “Good Life”. Rick Rolled, I was?
So, in just about 5 months from now, I will embrace my “adult gap year” and face the fear of not knowing the outcome. I’ve never been so excited to take, as some call it, a “risk” in leaving my career and to put trust in that things will just work out as they’ve always had. I feel young again, youthful, free-spirited, and crazy. Call me a Hippie, I don’t care, I love it. I’m so ready to unlearn what I’ve learned, and I hope, no, I trust that my experience on the A.T. will lead me to a more open, deeper, and purposeful life and to then go live it without looking back. Be_again