Resfeber (res-fe-ber) noun 1. The restless race of the traveller’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together. Origin: Swedish
I'm not sure when or where I saw this word for the first time; though it was most likely from one of the travel blogs that I follow. I remember thinking, 'who the hell has anxiety before going on holiday?!' All I ever felt was the anticipation side of that equation. And it was usually tangled with excitement, and perhaps relief if I had been particularly busy. But anxiety?
Who are those people?
And then the day came when I was staring at the departure gate at Logan Airport to start a six month journey around the world.
As an avid and frequent traveler, it kills me to admit it. But yes - the anxiety started to creep in. I was starting in a big city and spending three months in a part of the world where I didn't speak the language. I only had confirmed plans for the first 10 days and while I had a general route, I didn't have any other flights or hotels booked so as to remain completely flexible. I left a steady paycheck and a job where I was well respected and on a continued upward path.
So as I walked through the security gates, the other side of the resfeber equation was speaking to me with words of fear. Did I do the right thing? Am I going to want to turn around in 6 weeks? Will I miss my bed, my kitchen, my morning coffee? Will I crave my routine that I so badly wanted to escape?
I've always been a travel bug, but this was another level.
Holy shit, I'm really doing this.
I remember the day I decided on the idea. It was last September and I was having brunch with two friends. Theresa had recently divorced and Chris was fighting cancer for the third time. Both were clearly dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions, but both were incredibly positive and full of life. (The type of people I love surrounding myself with.) Personally, I was really enjoying my work but I was burning out. I often thought about what was next for me, with dreams of leaving the corporate world and pursuing my passions. But I just didn't have the time to actually figure out exactly how or what. I loved being home near friends and family, but I didn't exactly have much love for Boston. Since I returned from living in London years ago, I felt unsettled there.
So as we typically do when the three of us get together - we talked about some deep shit. We talked about life and really living it authentically - being honest with yourself and everyone around you about who you are and what you want. To stop living inside the lines of others' expectations and going for what you really want. Chris called it "living life on purpose". I loved that.
Theresa and I spoke about leaving the rat race of our jobs to travel and get some headspace to figure out what was next. When Chris heard that, she simply said "why not?" She reminded us that life is meant to be lived, not to be dreamed about and put on the shelf for later.
We talked about how travel expands your mind and the world you operate in; how experiences are so much more interesting than material things; how meeting people from other walks of life teaches you not only about how others live but about your self. It shatters your assumptions and biases. It births new perceptions.
That was the day I decided I was going to leave my job and travel.
I decided to live my life on purpose, to just go for it. To live authentically. Not worry that others may think I'm crazy for leaving a stable, lucrative job where I was good at what I did and got amazing opportunities like living in London and traveling to places like Milan, Paris, San Fran, Hong Kong and Tokyo; wondering why I wasn't searching for a partner, establishing roots and getting the white picket fence; concerned that I was pausing my retirement contributions; concerned that I was traveling alone; concerned about what I would do when I got back.
It's amazing how much the things above (note: others' concerns) weighed on me. It was harder to tell my family, friends, my boss and my colleagues knowing that they would share all of these fears. But I realized at some point that these were their fears - not mine.
Now here I am, boarding a plane to Buenos Aires with a one way ticket and nothing but time. The anxiety creeping up is a projection of other's fears and it was nudged out by my excitement and inner knowing that this is exactly what I should be doing.
Chris passed away about 3 months before I left. Her words still sit with me: "Live life on purpose." Now those are words to live by.