Cuando Para Mi Alma

I somehow find myself stuck between a delayed quarter-life crisis and an early mid-life crisis. What’s the difference between the two besides stage of life? One of them tries to capture life before it escapes their grasp, while the other attempts to correct the ship after discovering life is passing by. Quarter-life is when we try to discover the identity we want, while mid-life deals with accepting the life we have and perhaps having enough time for one last hoorah at what we dreamed years ago.

At 28 years old, I am a little delayed but quarter-life can extend all the way to mid-30s as I know some friends in their 30s who are in similar waters as I. While I have no regrets at the path I’ve taken thus far, nor the attempts at other things like med school, it is difficult to swallow the reality that no solid career has begun and that dreams like a full passport lay there empty. Of course, many out there also are bound to the cards life dealt to them. Some living paycheck to paycheck, others never seeing life beyond their little hometowns, and a few sacrificing everything to try and make it big while seeing no results whatsoever. We’re all in a rut right now as the global pandemic still lingers, but I can’t stop looking ahead for when the sun pokes through this dark societal cloud.

I can feel the struggle with boredom and craziness of being cooped up at home. Yet while I still can go out around town, for now, and do things like walk at the park I somehow feel even more crazy than those of you across the waters. For while you are chained to your homes, for the longest time, I felt chained to my life. And this time at home only amplifies, if not, uncover all the things I tempered down. Those thoughts of what I am doing now, what will I do next, how can I do it, and more. I did say I’m stuck between a quarter and mid, and the mid-life crisis is trying to make up for lost time and missed opportunities by wanting to do them now. Sure, there’s the idea that I have a long time to do that, but if this pandemic and other unexpected deaths show us is that anything can happen from one day to the next. And right now I wish I could do the road trips, thrill seeking things (skydiving, bungee diving, etc.), and long-distance traveling.

Can’t do that, though, as flights are cancelled, companies aren’t hiring and money is slowly accumulating in small bits. Life loves those curveballs, but there has been at lease one silver lining. Not long ago I came across someone, and we spoke for some time about life. In that brief amount of time, however, they were able to analyze me like very few people ever have. They described as “someone who thinks quite mature for their age yet, at the same time, appears to be a lost soul searching for their place in this world.” Maybe one day I’ll run into them again, but for now life has other plans. In the meantime, those words have stuck throughout this time, as the Journey is on pause from the delay. Delaying the delay; ironic.

Being lost can create paths you never knew existed.

Lost soul. Anyone else feel like they are one as well? When I think about that term, lately I keep separating the entity. Normally, it means many different things including: depressed, losing a loved one, disappointed where you are in life, and feeling stuck. But it still ascertains that it’s a person with the soul still in them. For me lately, I see it as if the person is empty and their soul wandered off somewhere for them to try and find again. That’s how I see it, and that’s how I felt since I was in high school. As if I was always needing to venture to find it and where I belong. I believe I once talked about identity, and the pros and con of not having just one. Rather it meaning being flexible and willing to adjust.

That stemmed to all parts of my life: location, job, relationships, passions. Location, you all know the desire to travel. Names have popped up numerous times throughout posts. Chicago, Colorado, New York, London, Barcelona, Sydney, and others. Each one is different, yet equal in terms of how I could see myself happy there. Not that I’m not happy here, but a part of me always felt maybe “home” isn’t here. I said earlier that we have to make do with the cards we’re dealt, but we certainly have the ability to get new cards.

It’s always baffled me how some could stay their entire life in one place when they have the capability to go elsewhere. And I’m not talking about those who “love” where they are, but rather those who are “content” where they are. Excluding those who are afraid of people or planes and such, there are those who have no desire to explore. And sometimes they’ll talk as if they already know all about the place they’ve never been to. “Chicago’s the #1 crime city in the U.S., everyone’s poor in London, Spain isn’t safe”. The list goes on for excuses that aren’t always true. Yet that and more are used as a way to stay where they are; in their own little bubble.

Many of my longtime readers can probably paraphrase my thoughts on contentment and settling for where you are now. It’s frustrating, but can be even more so when we think about how countries make it difficult to go there. You need a visa, it has to be the correct one, you can stay only a certain amount of days, you need a sponsor, and other passport/traveling dilemmas. There’s also dual citizenship issues where certain countries don’t allow it (I was curious about owning a home and permanent residency legalities). Countries like Japan, Germany, Netherlands, and possibly Spain (still learning) are some of which that I know will never happen.

Finding a home can be a rough road.

And then there’s jobs which doing abroad is tricky, especially if you’re job is not an in-demand one like engineering or doctor. People might think it’s easy for English-speakers to get jobs abroad, well, yes and no not really. The most common one is probably teaching English, followed by labor jobs or customer service type ones. But we all have to start somewhere, and there are chances of moving up the ladder from there. I’ve heard people tell me to combine my talent for writing with my desire for travel, and try to become a travel writer/blogger. Don’t get me wrong I’ve thought of that before. Thing is, it’s hard for me to turn a passion into a job.

While I certainly feel I’d do well at that, and add a spice of personality to it if I did video documentaries, I’ve read so many stories from others who do it. How you think it would be so amazing at first, only to then realize something. That something being the enjoyment of adventure slipping away. See with such a job, there’s deadlines and specifics that come with it. This will affect the amount of time you stay in one location, and how much exploring you can do. Mostly sticking to the itinerary for what you’ll talk about. Some may go off-script, and there may be some time for exploring, but generally you’re there to work instead of having fun.

Can’t you have fun at work though? Sure, you can! But the initial fun fades and the toll of always going from place to place gets to you. And the last thing I want to be is Willy Loman (Death of Salesman fans anyone?). I don’t want to become the depressed traveler who grew tired of his job, as they watch the world pass by and friends and family carry on. Though I talk about travel, and going abroad maybe living elsewhere, I never thought of myself as a nomad. And yes, I see every hypocritical thing I say including “not knowing where I belong” and “not being a nomad”.

On the outside, it might appear like I don’t know what I’m doing, but in fact I do. It’s just a slightly messy pile on the floor that I have to organize. In a future post, I’ll dive more into the pros and cons of not having one firm identity, but I’ll summarize what I do know about myself. Through my late teens & early 20s phases, I learned that I desire travel but not always in my job. I don’t want to miss out on life just to get on a plane and spend most of my life either in a meeting or hotel. It’s one of the reasons I stopped pursuing being a doctor, along with o-chem kicking my butt, is that I wouldn’t be out until I’m 40 and by then friends and family will move on. And my desire to be a young-ish dad would have fleeted.

We know what we want, it’s just knowing ‘how’ can be the tricky part.

That’s another thing: it’d be nice to have a family. Owning a home with plenty of land to run around, without having to see into my neighbor’s window through mine. Job-wise, I want something that helps others and inspires creativity and fun teammates. So it’s narrowed down to something in the realms of advertising/writing, counseling, or maybe even sports (if I’m lucky). We’re now at the last 2 parts of my life that I haven’t delved into yet; relationships and passions. Relationships aren’t hard to describe, since I’ve preached it so many times in the past. We should meet as many people as we can, including those beyond our borders. It doesn’t matter the language or culture we come from, because we’re all humans and we relate to each other in some ways. My problems can be just the same for you out there in Russia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Chile and wherever else you reside.

Although, some of you might think I can come off as cold when I gloss over attachments and moving on to someone else quickly. I should clarify that whenever I talk about friends/people coming and going in our lives, and how there’s always someone else out there to hang out with, I’m not discrediting those past moments shared nor cutting off the care you have for them. And I’m definitely not saying people are replaceable nor relationships being hollow. Absolutely enjoy those memories and companionships. It can be hard to say goodbye, especially if you’re moving to another country. But also know they’re still there even if time passes by, and (as I always say) there’s amazing people everywhere you go. While I would be sad to bid farewell to friends here, I know there’s incredible people in Athens, Buenos Aires, Casablanca, Lisbon and wherever else I may have moved to who provide their own memories and adventures. It doesn’t replace the past, rather adds to it the wonderful people who came into your life.

That’s if I chose to move, but my passions remain the same. It will always be scattered; said the Renaissance Man. My interests are a wide array from the local stuff to the international stuff. So why’s that an issue? Because there’s no one interest that is an “absolute passion”. Not one thing that I must do every week, because I can do different things each week. While I might seem like I have no strong passion for a certain interest, truth is, that just means it’s a strong passion that’s more equal among many interests. But that always gets confused for not being dedicated to something, which causes people to think you don’t have your life together. But as you see, I have a good grasp of what I want to do in my personal life, career and such. The true question that makes it seem like I’m lost is – Where and How? I know what I’d like to do, but how do I get there? I’m sure I’d be okay in a different city, but where is that at?

Water doesn’t just follow one path. It spreads out, and grows like us.

People like to say, “just pick a path and go with it”. It’s more connected to career-talk, but truthfully I never believed in that notion. Because in this day and age, people change jobs so often. It’s hard to stay in one place, and so many switch careers. Why put all your eggs in one basket, and then suddenly you realize the basket breaks? It’s great to find your niche and stand out, but that shouldn’t prevent you from being multi-talented and being able to do other things. Don’t be “general”, but be “diversely skilled” instead of just niche. Have a backup in case it doesn’t work out. That’s what I feel like I’ve done with my life is setting things up before finally being ready to take off.

And that’s where this post all comes together. It started off in general about feeling stuck between a quarter and mid-life crisis. Then it became more specific to figuring out what I want life to be, as I showed you I know what I want it to be. It’s simply a matter of how and where. The mid-life part being making up for lost time after spending years prepping (studying, working, researching) for the life I want; instead of just doing it. And so the solution: go out and do it. Some of my favorite movies are the ones where the main character has to go on a journey to rediscover or follow what they want. You got movies like: Big Fish, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Eat Pray Love, Last Chance Harvey, The Terminal, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. All of them have adventure, running into unique people along the way, and finding what they were looking for.

They were all lost and unsure of what life had in store next. Like me, and like you out there unsure of what’s going to happen next; especially in this economic time. But let’s try not to let it deter us, and focus on figuring out how we’re going to get where we’d like to be. For myself, it’s still applying to jobs that are in the realms of what I want to do. But tying it into where, of course travel will happen. It will. However, I think I’m prepared to open the doors again to the world, and consider searching for jobs abroad and within the country. Will it be a job that I want to do at first? Probably not, but it’s about getting your foot in the door and moving up from there. Seeing where we feel more at home if that’s possible. Life’s too short and boring to be cooped up in one place forever, so whether traveling or moving we should try it a few times.

It can be scary not knowing what we’re going to do, or frightful knowing what we must do to get there. But don’t let others judge you for not knowing or being hesitant to take the chance. More than likely, they were in the same shoes as you or maybe they never even tried and just judge you from afar. Whether it’s uncertainty about the job you want, where you want to live, or the activity you want to do it’s okay to be nervous and unsure. You’re not alone, as we all have people who are there to support us or can relate in some way. We’re all connected no matter where we are. I’m stuck in this uncertainty, but I’ve whittled it down to two questions; the rest I know what I want. For us all, it’s just a matter of having the courage to take a leap of faith. My mother knew about my vision for the longest time, with being abroad as part of it. And after recently watching a movie about a person going on a journey of her own, she once again knew how it connected with me. I’m down to two questions, and just answering one will already help with the other goals I’m dedicated to. After the movie my mom looked at me as I finished my dinner. I looked at her when she said “Que mijo?”, and I simply said to her as I walked by “not Que (What), but Cuando (When)”. . .


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