Lost Girl of the Week: Jessica Marie

Backpacking & Trekking, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girl of the Week, Quitting & Career Management — By on May 30, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Most would-be travelers need some sort of catalyst to uproot them from a comfy spot on the couch (or an exceedingly uncomfortable office chair) and propel them towards the open road.

For many, its a window of unscheduled time–the period between college and grad school, a sabatical from work, an extended honeymoon, a company layoff (paired with an excellent severance package, of course). Others take off to pursue new experiences and skills through a study aboard program or language schools. Still other nomads leave to live out a fantasy-like climbing Mt Killimanjaro, hugging penguins in Antarctica or diving the Great Barrier Reef.

But for a certain group of travelers, like Lost Girl of the Week Jessica Marie, the reasons for leaving aren’t so clearly defined. Jessica intuitively understood the transforming effect of travel, so when the going got tough in her own life, this tough girl wasn’t afraid to get going!

While its true that you can’t run away from your problems, sometimes changing your geography can give you the perspective to learn and grow from them. Here’s Jessica’s story–and what she figured out along the way.

From Jessica:

Up until the summer of 2007, my life seemed relatively on track. I had a great job in publishing as a graphic designer. My Toronto apartment was larger than most people I knew. I had a tight knit group of friends, and a loving boyfriend. I had also turned 30 that year-and was actually taking it well.

Now, I had always loved to travel. My dad had first sparked that interest by first taking me to Germany as kid. Years later, I even took a year off to see most of Europe and South East Asia. But now, after getting a real job with benefits, I had really settled in. I had grown accustomed to daily routine, and three week vacations.

Then, quickly, a series of events happened, which changed things drastically. First, there was new management at work. This then led to my editor quitting. At the same time work was extremely stressful with these changes, my dad suffered a stroke.

The summer of 2007 was spent flying home to see my dad on weekends, and trying to maintain sanity in my now tense work environment. It was at that point I made the decision. If I could get through this summer, and things were OK, then I would do something for myself. I would have another summer.

So I started saving, preparing and planning. I dug up a journal from 2000, where I had jotted down some long term goals. Visit galleries in Europe. Travel to Australia. Go to graduate school. Now, it seemed evident what my new summer would hold.

In February 2008, with my dad’s health in good condition, my best friend (since grade 7) and I, eagerly packed our bags for Australia, New Zealand and Japan. While most people couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of quitting a full time job with benefits to travel, it made perfect sense to me.

My instinct proved to be true. Somewhere along the trip, I felt a shift that happens when travelling. A change of perspective that really changes you, stimulates you, and makes you feel alive. It could of been the challenge of navigating the Tokyo subway system. Or my best friend inspiring me to to sky dive in New Zealand. Maybe it was all of the hospitable Australians and the genuinely interesting people we met along the way.

Now, as I sit in a new city, in graduate school, I can clearly think about the challenges I faced last summer. Even though the experience was difficult, in essence it was my catalyst for change. For this I am grateful. It made me realize that life is short, and it really is what you make it. And most importantly, It brought me back to my first love-travel.

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  • Narendra Pal Singh says:



  • soleil says:

    Quitting a job to travel sounds perfectly acceptable to me. I’m glad you did and and now you have had great new adventures and memories that will last forever.