This week, I thought it might be fun (both for you and for me) to do a little time traveling.
Yes, it's possible-- it's the 21st century after all.
Just about this time, two years ago, I set began the biggest adventure (and biggest gamble) of my life-- Semester at Sea.
I quit my job on Wall Street, threw caution to the money-making wind, and set sail on what would be the most amazing (and eye opening) 6 months of my life.
(Have you had enough of the parentheses yet!?)
When I began that adventure, I started a blog. That blog had multiple purposes:
1. Keep in touch with everyone at home.
2. Let everyone know what I was up to around the world.
3. Serve as a journaling experiment.
The purpose I did not expect...
Have you ever gone back to something you wrote-- a letter, a note, a yearbook signature (yes, that was a pre-Facebook thing)-- and realized what an amazing artifact that was? Despite what anyone will tell you, it's incredibly difficult for us to remember events accurately. It's even more difficult to remember feelings accurately.
Cognitive dissonance... it's a thing... Google it.
But with an artifact, we can actually SEE and READ what we were thinking and feeling at a given moment in time.
So today, I present to you, my very first blog... ever.
Don't say I never gave you anything.
Enter... Old Tracy.
Hi everybody! Welcome to my blog! (Current Tracy: Yes, that's how I started.)
For some of you, this initial post comes (hopefully) highly anticipated and (unfortunately) long awaited! For others, you may be interested in travel, curious about the ramblings of a soul-searcher, or otherwise randomly stumbling on this site for the first time. No matter what, I hope this blog not only informs you, but also speaks to you in some way… Whether that be inspiration or annoyance, only time will tell! (Current Tracy: Apparently parentheses are my favorite thing.)
Today, Sunday, January 6, 2013, marks the beginning of a great adventure around the world on a Semester at Sea. But the real journey started one year ago when I got my first inkling that my job as a bond salesman wasn’t exactly where I wanted to spend the next 30 years of my life. The stages of realization and self-awareness (some more painful than others) all began with a few simple ideas:
- It’s ok to not like what you do.
- It’s ok to want to do something different.
- It’s ok to leave and find that thing.
(I love lists, so you’ll find them popping up pretty often.)
(Current Tracy: still love lists, still love THIS list in particular.)
A lot of us convince ourselves that we like what we do, because we think we should like it. We lose sight of what we want to do (or never look for it at all) because we spend all our time doing what others say is right. We shy away from the chance to go find what we love for a myriad of reasons but mostly because it’s a scary risk. It would be easy to say that once I admitted those things to myself, everything else just fell into place.
Well, it didn’t.
Those ideas started the train of thought that continued to push me forward, but would often times leave me oscillating between the extremes of having it all figured out and feeling completely hopeless. After an incredibly long (and did I mention somewhat painful) year of soul-searching, mentor-seeking, passion-finding, many other hyphenated ‘ings’, and sometimes just doing noth-ing, I still really hadn’t figured it out. I finally decided (as with most of my better decisions) to let my tummy tell me what to do- Semester at Sea!
(Current Tracy: I have to say... I still believe in this stuff, and I'm so happy I got on that thought train 3 years ago.)
Now, there are a few things you should know about me so that you can hopefully understand my tummy’s guiding forces and how they led so perfectly to Semester at Sea.
(Current Tracy: That damn tummy has gotten me into a lot of trouble, but thank God for this decision.)
I love people.
When I was in high school, I was asked on a scholarship questionnaire to describe my ‘passion.’ By then I knew that sports and academics, although enjoyable, weren’t it. I started to think about the things I loved most in life and realized they all revolved around other people.
Friends and family were only the beginning. I wanted to get to know everyone, figure out their desires, learn what made them get up in the morning (alarm clock is still the best answer I’ve heard), and explore what we all had in common—our innately social nature and our need for each other.
For that reason, I knew that while my searching was personal and internal, it would have to involve other people. Semester at Sea will have over 650 students and several hundred faculty and staff from all over the world, each with varied experiences and interests, each eager to learn and see the world. Like freshman year all over again…
(Current Tracy: Y'all... seriously... to this day, I still can't believe how many amazing people I've met over the last two years. This was spot on.)
My heart is set on traveling the world.
I think the travel bug first bit me when I decided to live and study in Rome for a summer in college. From that short 5 weeks of cobblestone streets, fresh air markets, and hazelnut gelato, I was hooked. I have since revisited Italy and traveled to several other European countries trying to expand my global understanding.
This was probably my tummy’s biggest motivator. Every job opening I researched felt like delaying an inevitability of exploring the world someday. The chance to travel to Asia and Africa in such a structured way really drew me to the (hyperlink me)itinerary of this semester’s voyage.
(Current Tracy: Travel. Just do it. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just travel.)
I’m in fear-facing mode.
I have a friend who likes to jump off buildings and another who climbs mountains. I know people who have moved to foreign countries sight unseen. I have several friends who put their lives in danger daily. All of these people face their fears instead of letting them get in the way of their passions.
I’ll be honest here, guys. I’m terrified.
I was terrified of leaving my job and remain terrified of never finding one again. I’m secretly worried that I’m going to wake up somewhere in the Pacific Ocean during the ten days at sea between Hawaii and Japan freaking out and wanting to be airlifted back to the US. But deep down I get most nervous that maybe this trip won’t be the answer and my tummy was wrong. But I got so unhappy, that I just decided to go forward regardless.
Feel the fear and do it anyway!
(Current Tracy: Perspective time... Terror was the best engine fuel I've ever had. There will always be work available to those who truly seek it. I made it to Japan without having a panic attack. My tummy was right.)
I hope to do some social good.
Working on a trading floor, although lucrative, was not all that inspiring (Current Tracy: PREACH). Despite being well-compensated, working with intelligent people, and getting to progress quickly, I found myself lacking desire for my work. I had spent two years in finance and wanted to translate that experience into something that motivated me and made me feel like I was making the world a little bit better.
Enter the Unreasonable Institute.
This semester, our ship will also play host to 11 tech entrepreneurs who will be working closely with students to address some of the major social problems of the day ranging from clean water initiative to commerce solutions. I’ll also be taking a course in global sustainable entrepreneurship in the hopes that I can learn as much as I can about the ways we can address all of our societies’ needs.
(Current Tracy: I met... hands down... the most amazing human beings of my adult life. I'm still friends with several of them. I learned that change is possible, change is good, and change is worth chasing.)
I want to create something that helps people.
At Yale, I majored in psychology, but not to practice or counsel. I was never really interested in abnormal psychology or evolutionary theory. And the great majority of researching and statistical work was definitely not for me.
I wanted to inspire.
Say what you will about the positive psychology movement… I’ve heard everything from crunchy to downright fake. But there is something to be said, something undeniable, about the strength we have to overcome hardship, kill with kindness, and find our happy places.
So now that I’ve finally resigned from the bank and joined the legions of American fun-employed youth, I can see why so many of us feel lost and confused. The portion of our identities that we derive from whatever we do for work is lost. And for some people, that’s a huge portion- a king-size, if you will.
(Current Tracy: I didn't realize then, because I couldn't see the forest for the trees, that I was already so close to knowing and doing what I love-- helping people come alive.)
When people ask me ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Where do you live?’ I no longer have easy, crutch-like answers to use as identity markers. I’m no longer a bond salesman living in Connecticut. That Tracy is gone.
But by letting go of that identity, I gained the time and opportunity to find the real one. And my real hope is that my sometimes insightful, generally funny, and eternally honest postings on this blog might get people thinking about who they really are too.
(Current Tracy: Ahh, identity. If you don't read anything else in this post, read this: YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO. YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. Please know that you have immense value, just by virtue of being human and being alive and being cognizant of the needs of others. YOU ARE MORE THAN WHAT YOU DO.)
And if not, at least you guys will get some cool pictures out of the deal.
(Current Tracy: That happened. In spades.)
We officially set sail on Wednesday January 9th, but until then I’ll be traveling through California visiting friends and family. Send me emails, comment on the blog, and let me know what you want to hear about! Coming soon will be travel itineraries, frequently asked questions, and hopefully more pictures!
Question of the day:
What is your passion and how are you living it?
(Current Tracy: Wow... so cheesy.)
The Big Picture
My first blog post might not have been literary genius. But you know what it definitely was?
Do yourself a favor and start keeping tabs on your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
(I promise, if for nothing other than your random, parentheses-driven perspective, it will be worth it.)
Now I want to hear from you!
1. Have you ever kept a journal and re-read your own words?
2. What insight can we gain by seeing how far we've come?
Post your comments below!