I wanted to travel the world. I had a very limited budget and a special needs cat who is seriously attached to me. I knew how to sail. Turns out old boats can be had pretty cheap. Cats do well on boats. I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding people who wanted to come for the price of groceries and help. Obviously what I should do was sail the world!
So I set my mind to it — damn the naysayers. I was going to do this thing. So I saved up for several years, bought a boat, fixed her up, moved aboard, left my job, and started traveling.
Now, reality had already set in by my first week at anchor in the form of a nasty fall storm. A boat behind me dragged their anchor and hit me. It only did minor damage but it’s a terrifying experience that I wish on no one. Fast forward to the following June and you’ll find me alone in a little town on Vancouver Island with no way to see friends, having not had a fresh water shower in a month, being hit viciously hard by depression and anxiety, and finally admitting… I seriously hate this.
On a small boat you are constantly concerned about running out of resources: fresh water, food, fuel, power in your batteries, and the all-important rum (which allows you to tolerate the rest of the shit). There’s also the big factor of being at the mercy of the elements…
At some point I realized that what I was actually getting out of this was not worth what I was giving up for it… and I needed to stop.
I love storms when I live on land. On a boat they can kill you very quickly. At best they mean a sleepless, nervous night. If the wind and tide won’t cooperate you’re simply not going to get where you intended. Some days you can’t even make it to shore. Now add that every. Tiny. Thing. Is a giant pain in the ass. Want clean clothes? Pack them up, put them in the dinghy, row to shore, carry them to the laundromat a 30 min walk away, wash them, then go back. Repeat for every errand. Cooking is done on a propane camp stove that constantly sets off the smoke detector. You have no refrigeration.
But the biggest thing was isolation.
When you chase an big life dream, especially an offbeat one, people will not get it. They’ll tell you you’re crazy and you should stop, or they’ll promise to be involved and never be there. You can’t rant about your newest project because they don’t understand. No one wants to date you if you’re leaving in a few days or months. And it’s a lot harder than I ever thought to find crew.
At some point I realized that what I was actually getting out of this was not worth what I was giving up for it. That this was making me miserable way more often than it was making me happy, and I needed to stop. Which meant that, all of a sudden, everyone was telling me how dare I give up on my dream, and blah blah blah.
So here’s what I learned from dream chasing and giving up:
- You absolutely can, and should, chase huge dreams — dreams that scare you silly, dreams people tell you that you’re crazy for considering. You will grow and learn so much in the process. Screw the haters. It’s not their life.
- You are capable of amazing things. Put yourself in hard situations and rise. You’ve got this.
- Utilize your transferable skills. This is job interview 101. Skills from one thing apply to others and get built upon. You are never, never done learning.
- It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to try something and not like it. It’s okay to change your mind. Sometimes it takes more strength to do so. Just like life is too short to not follow your dreams, it’s also too short to stay with something that’s totally wrong for you.
- People will tell you you’re doing the wrong thing no matter what you do. They don’t need to understand and you don’t owe them an explanation. Screw the haters. It’s not their life.
Now go forth and try something amazing! And if you hate it, have the strength to move on and try something else.