Monday, March 30, 2015

Withdrawals

At the end of 2014, I reflected on the last year and made a list of things I had learned. Two of those items have stuck out to me the most over the last few weeks of traveling. The first, number five on that list, is that regular adventures are necessary to my overall happiness. I'd say that I've been having some pretty good adventures this year. I went on a road trip and did a couple of what Outside magazine calls the world's most dangerous hikes. I experienced Las Vegas for the first of what I'm sure will be many times. I visited Oklahoma in the snow, and beat a winter storm home from Nashville after a great few days in Tennessee with friends and family. I made my first trip out of the country and got to spend a weekend on Caye Caulker in Belize, and I'm finally living my dream of backpacking Europe. And it's only March.
The next item on that same reflective list, number six, is where the issue begins. Number six said that having a meaningful purpose is just as important to my happiness as having adventures is. Over the last few months, I have completely forgotten about number six. Throughout my entire life, I have had a plan and a goal to strive for. All through high school my goal was to attend West Point. I didn't get in the first time I applied, but I got a scholarship from West Point's Association of Graduates to attend Marion Military Institute. After my first semester at MMI, my purpose changed from West Point to the Intelligence Community. Over the next two years I worked tirelessly in both "real" work and my academics to propel myself into a career in the community. After I had to return to the University of Arkansas from Pennsylvania, I lost a lot of my motivation, but continued on with unparalleled determination. During my last semester at the U of A, my motivation and determination for anything but adventures vanished. I put $2,000 and my passport in my school bag and consistently thought about leaving. I was and still am completely burnt out on that direction in my life, though I plan on returning to it later. But now that college is finished and I've started towards my personal legend, I'm having trouble finding a meaningful purpose.
I know I need this break from the "real world" to gain some perspective and renew my focus, but that hardly feels like a meaningful purpose to me. I have always enjoyed being altruistic and helping people, but it's difficult to find people to help in a place where I'm the expat. If anyone needs help, it's me - which is something that has never sat well with me. So while I may be traveling and having a great time over the next several months, I'm convinced that, for me, this trip would be more fulfilling if I had a meaningful job to do. I know I won't be satisfied if I go home just yet though, so I'll continue to search for my purpose in this world as I scour the globe for adventure.