Going the Distance – Part I
What happens when you connect with someone during your travels, even if only for a brief period of time? What if the connection is so special and rare, it makes you wonder if you should uproot your life to be with that person?
Most people have a logical, practical side to them that says, “What are you thinking? This only happens in movies. You have a job. You have your friends and family here. It was only 21 days. You don’t even know him!” When you experience this kind of connection with someone who lives near you, there’s no question you would pursue it – you have nothing to lose.
But when he or she lives 4,000 miles away, you have everything to lose. You will have to quit your job, leave your friends and family, and move your life to a place that is completely new, and for a relationship that might not even work out. Sounds scary, right?
There are two sides to every story. I am here to give the other side. The “impractical” side that says quit following your head and follow your instincts. Follow your gut feeling because it’s usually right. With all of the distractions the world throws in our face, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, what’s valuable, and listen to our intuition.
Let me give you an example of two women I met during my travels – one French and one Swedish, both in their 40’s.
The French woman had found a great, stable job immediately following college and was living in her hometown of Bayonne. One night, the French woman broke down and started to cry. She had put so much stress on herself to achieve all of these material goals, but she had no real life experience. She felt as if she hadn’t lived.
There was a world of difference that stood between her and the Swedish woman. The Swedish woman had moved to Spain immediately following graduation and lived there for two years, working on the island of Mallorca and learning the language. The passionate discourse about her journeys, experiences, the ones loved and lost, and the one loved and continues to love to this day, was pouring out of her.
The difference in these two women was the willingness to take chances and experience life, even if it meant making mistakes. The Swedish woman told me she had lived with no regrets and that her mistakes were the best learning experiences of her life – and I believed her.
Furthermore, there's numerous studies and books written on the top regrets of the dying.
One study was conducted by an Australian nurse who worked in palliative care, caring for patients in the last twelve weeks of their lives. The number one regret was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” The number two regret was, “I wish I hadn’t worked so much of the time.” The top two regrets of people’s lives involved unfulfilled dreams and missing their partner’s companionship due to working too much.
Of course, there are other factors which come into play and legitimate reasons to think with the logical part of your brain.
Maybe you do have a stable job. This is by far the most common reason not to pack up and move overseas. But let me ask one question – is it a job that you love, or even like? If the answer is no, it’s not a good reason for it to hold you back. It’s common in our culture and society to put money, career, and “success” first. But does it come at the cost of losing the possible love of your life?
Another important question – can you find your field of work in the other location? If the answer is yes, then I would say you should do your research and pursue it. If the answer is no, this is where it gets complicated. I strongly believe that timing is a huge factor in love and if it’s supposed to work, it eventually will when the timing is right.
You don’t want to end up like the couple from “Five Year Engagement” where Jason Segel leaves his dream job as a top chef in San Francisco to become a miserable worker at the local fast food joint because of Emily Blunt. You get the point. However, if you doubt your field of work and realize that you actually have another passion in life you want to pursue, now is the perfect time to reevaluate things.
This article isn’t only for the people who are thinking of pursuing love overseas. This article is to inspire everyone to pursue life. Remember what is important to you, experience everything you can, and create lasting relationships whenever possible.
When you reflect back on your life, what regrets will you have?