Almost Fearless

If My Life Is So Cool, Why Do I Feel Like I Need a Cold Drink and a Good Fan?

GUEST POST: While I am on the road this week and exploring Madrid, I’ve arranged for some of my favorite travel bloggers to share their travel stories and advice here. So enjoy, give our guest bloggers lots of love and be sure to check out the author’s site.

9-5, quit your job, travelling, dream life

Admit it: some of you are crazy with envy. You log in to Almost Fearless from your cubicle, hoping your boss doesn’t catch you because you should be preparing a monthly report or making cold calls to boost sales.

It’s okay. I understand. When I worked 9-to-5 in a job I detested, I regularly suffered insane bouts of jealousy just thinking about people I saw in the park while I schlepped from one meeting to another. Why didn’t those people have to work?! How did they pay rent?! I assumed they led amazing lives, free of worries and full of fun.

That was before I quit my job.

A few months back, I received an e-mail from someone who read an article I’d written about how to ditch the 9-to-5 life. Joe, a recent college graduate, had taken a job as a debt collector to pay off his own school loans, but he confessed that he was sure he was slowly dying—already—of corporate boredom and anxious dread about his own professional future. He wrote:

I literally hate, nay, despise every single aspect of [my job]. I hate that I have to be up by 6am, I hate that I have to drive 45 minutes, I hate that I have to work 9- 10 hour days, I hate that I have to wear a shirt and tie EVERYDAY even though all I do is sit on the phone, I hate the people, I hate the fact that the only time I see the sun is on lunch break and weekends because I’m up and AT WORK before sunrise, and I don’t leave until after dark… The pay sucks….it’s just…not what I’m meant to do.

I answered by asking Joe if he had a dream, and he said he did. But he was convinced that dozens of obstacles existed that stood in the way of exiting the cube and pursuing the dream. I told Joe he didn’t need to exit the cube in one dramatic departure, like I did, and that my life was, contrary to popular belief, quite ordinary.

He didn’t believe me. My life was so cool, and before our correspondence fizzled out, he’d developed a fantasy about my life that sounded, well, just dreamy.

When folks like myself, Christine, and her husband take the leap and pursue the dream, lots of people think that life changes completely. Somehow, because we are living outside the cube, everything else in our life also changes: we suddenly don’t have to pay bills, we become immune to the tragedies and sadnesses of life, whatever character flaws we have disappear, and we spend our days emanating an aura of utter coolness, our only worry collecting one more stamp in our passports.

But if my life is so cool, why do I feel like I need a cold drink and a good fan?

Don’t get me wrong. Since I kissed my 9-to-5 job good-bye, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and when I say every day since has been extraordinary, I mean it. But my dog still poops and I still have to pick it up. People I love still get hurt (my husband slipped in the bathtub and got 11 stitches while I was away in Mexico), still divorce, still die. I’m still clumsy, I still can’t dance, and I still can’t balance a checkbook. In other words, the mundane and the downright yucky stuff about living do not simply disappear when you decide to live your dream.

It’s hard, when you’re in the cube, to think that the dream life you see someone else pursuing is anything other than cool. If you’re suffering from ennui and envy this week as Christine and her husband settle in Madrid, just think about this: The dogs probably crapped in their crates on the transatlantic flight, the landlord probably forgot to deliver the key to their new apartment, the lights probably haven’t been turned on yet, and they’re probably eating cereal because they don’t know where the market is.

In other words, the cool life is… quite normal.

About the Author:

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator who lives in New York, Mexico City, and San Juan. She has a BA in English and Women’s Studies, a Masters of Social Work, and is working on a PhD in Literature at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. You can find her online at Collazo Projects.

Photo (top): Stoichiometry

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Very funny. I love the humorous slant to it 🙂

    A lot of people are usually stuck in or worry about that transition period, where they are ready to give it all up but have bills and loans that need to be paid off before taking the full plunge.

    I think one of the things that people need to be aware of is that it takes a lot of discipline to be out on your own.

    Lolas last blog post..Essential Baby Steps Towards Living Your Passions

  • I have friends that often tell me how envious they are that i can simply pick up and move. They don’t realize that in order to do so there is a lot of stress that comes with the insecurity involved with leaving everything behind. Change brings rewards, but at times with much cost.

  • Thank you for the short and concise article that didn’t bore me to death.

    @ Joe: Agree with you, I do. (Why am I talking like Yoda?)

    Anthonys last blog post..Hopes and Dreams and a Pursuit of Hard Rocks

  • “The dogs probably crapped in their crates on the transatlantic flight, the landlord probably forgot to deliver the key to their new apartment, the lights probably haven’t been turned on yet, and they’re probably eating cereal because they don’t know where the market is.”

    Sure, but their dream is alive, that’s a big difference. Trust me, I have just started to crack the door on my dream.

    Chad @ Sentient Moneys last blog post..How Far Can This Market Drop?

  • Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Chad– you’re absolutely right: living the dream is everything. As I said in the post, since I started doing what I love, which is writing and traveling full-time, every day has been extraordinary. At the same time, the normal life stuff is all still there! 🙂

    Julies last blog post..The Well-Stocked Kitchen: Tips from Chef Francisco

  • You have a good point, but I think the mundane tends to be a bit more bearable when you’re not living in the cube. Some of the best stories come from when you can’t find the market, anyhow 🙂

    As last blog post..lit nerds unite

  • My 9-5 ain’t too shabby. I can’t really complain, but I am a travel junkie and I intend to take as much time off as I can and hit the road. Thanks for keeping things real. There is a tendency to believe that life just orders itself and everything is rabbits and sunshine when you live and work for you.

    Good stuff!

    sdg1844s last blog post..Happy, Happy, Joy Joy!

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