A comment on my most recent post about trekking the Tamang Heritage Trail in Nepal said, in part, “Did you envision this in your life 5-10 years ago? Serious, but kind of rhetorical question.” When I read it, I looked at the date and tried to remember where my life was both 5 years ago and 10 years ago. And then I laughed.

No, this is not what I envisioned in my life 10 years ago.

Ten years ago, I was trapped in a relationship that was physically and emotionally abusive. I was still in college, taking 18 credit hours a semester plus working at two internships and a part-time job for a total of 40 hours a week. I was waiting for the “someday” to come for my live-in boyfriend who kept telling me that things would get better as soon as [insert event, job, whatever] here happened. I was struggling mightily with my eating disorder. I thought I’d be getting married at 22 and have four kids by 30 (LOLOLOLOL). And although travel seemed like an impossible dream, it was still something I thought about all the time. I majored in Geography, after all. I just thought I’d always study it and never live it.

I was also about a week away from turning 21. And I had dyed my hair a very dark brown.

Five years ago, I was legally still married and had been separated from my ex-husband for almost a year, still about 7 months away from our divorce being finalized (thanks for nothing, South Carolina). I had just gone on my second date with AJ. I had started this blog about a month before. I was still struggling terribly with my eating disorder. I had recently run my fourth marathon and had thoughts of running many more, but few plans. I was inching closer to traveling regularly, but I wasn’t there yet. I didn’t have the money, I convinced myself. I didn’t have the vacation time. I was afraid. 

Not our first picture together, but I like this one. Guys, remember when AJ had short hair and no beard? Weird, right?

So, no. Ten years ago and even five years ago, I had no idea this is what my life would look like. A life like the one I have now was something I don’t even think I could have dreamed about ten years ago because it seemed so ridiculous and impossible. Even five years ago, these things weren’t on my radar – they were just hopes.

When I think about it, though, there were signs even then that it was possible. I may have made some bad choices in my younger years, but I made the scary leaps it took to dig myself out of them eventually. While I’d like to tell you that I have always dreamed about what my life would be and then I took the steps I needed to in order to make that happen, that’s not really true. I mostly just stumbled my way from mistake to mistake and tried to do it better the next time. Eventually, I made it on my own. I learned how to save money, how to get the most out of my vacation time, and how to just do it when I knew I really wanted something but was too afraid to do it.

I truly believe I have running to thank for that. Running gave me the confidence I needed when I was going through my divorce and helped me understand I was capable of things I never thought possible. It pushed me outside my comfort zone and encouraged me to travel to new states to run marathons. Eventually, it convinced me and AJ to book our first international flights to Ireland so I could run the Dublin Marathon. It took me to Japan for the Toyko Marathon (which turned into a 5k thanks to my back, but whatever, I still went to Japan). And those trips were under my belt, I realized yes – this was really possible. I could really live the life I wanted.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo – had to do the Japanese peace sign

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t stopped since. While some things, like maintaining my sanity while raising a baby and never sleeping, still do not seem quite within my reach, the rest of the world does. And while I’ve certainly been incredibly fortunate to have some amazing opportunities and privileges throughout my life that afford me the ability to travel the way that I do, I also have made the best out of (many) very bad situations and overcome a lot. I’ve worked three jobs for nearly two years now so I can afford to travel and I know not to take a second of this for granted. Nothing gold can stay. I wake up every day incredibly grateful for the life I have and I am grateful, in advance, for the life it will be one day, knowing it won’t look the same.

From where I’m sitting, things look pretty great.

No, I could not ever have envisioned 5 or 10 years ago that my life would be like this now. If, like I was, you’re in a place in your life where travel or any goal seems impossible, that’s ok. You don’t have to focus on that now. Just take the next step forward and see where it leads you. You might be surprised by what life looks like from there.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Is your life where you thought it would be 5 or 10 years ago? Better, worse, or just different?




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