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The Road Behind Me

photo (20)by Amanda Day, @amandainasia

Driving across the Oklahoma countryside headed to my hometown in Missouri it’s hard to believe that just a few days ago I was a resident of San Francisco. Thirty miles between each little town seems as normal as it ever did. Beautiful in its familiarity. The pickup trucks with planks of wood sticking out the back. The thought of men building things (without the use of the internet). After 7 years in the city and its suburbs, I have a new appreciation for country living that I’m truly grateful for.

When I drove out to California in August of 2006, it was a time of new beginnings. I didn’t know where the road would take me. I had an interview but no job. A place to stay for a few weeks but no apartment. About $1,500 in my bank account. I thought, ‘I can always bartend.’ A reckless attitude for someone who had just completed their MBA. But I’ve always been a little reckless, I guess. I got the job 2 days after I arrived in San Jose. It was part luck and part pluckiness. Things just “worked out” like they always do.

Over those 7 years in California I went from being a Teacher to a Banker to a Marketing Manager. The climb was hard, sometimes bitter, but often exciting. And not without it’s lessons. I met some amazing people — angels and snakes. The helping hands of a few key people are always, in my experience, what make the difference. Were it not for a certain Venture Capitalist I met randomly who saw potential in me, and an amazing Indian woman who doubles as a Marketing Executive and an Energy Healer, I don’t believe I could’ve made it this far. I hope that I can pay those kindnesses forward.

I’ve always said I’m not an ambitious person when it comes to my career, but in retrospect that’s not really true. I’ve never been one to settle. Making lots of money or becoming CEO still doesn’t matter to me, but being happy matters as much as it ever did.

Which brings me here… I-40 to be exact… a road leading me forward with a stopover to a place from my past. Everything I own is in this Toyota Camry. And most of it is going right back to the closet I left behind when I was 18. Because now more than ever, I realize it’s just stuff. In the same way I don’t really need my prom dress or my baton twirling uniform that have collected dust in my parents’ house all these years, I don’t really need any of this. I spent the last month giving a majority of my things away and I can tell you, there is nothing more liberating.

Next week I begin a new adventure. For the first time, I set my feet in Asia. I’m taking nothing but a backpack and my passport. Looking forward to the discoveries that lie ahead, but also aware that the real challenge is not the new location, not the language, not the cultural change. The real challenge is finding happiness, wherever I am. The kind of happiness that lives inside me. So if you’re like me, and you wonder where that place is,  I invite you to join me on my trip…

 

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