Last updated on June 11th, 2023
Dreams.. inexplicable, peculiar, and motivating at the same time. Everything in our life starts with a dream.
My first big dream and ambition were about moving to the land of opportunities, freedom, and honor. That land had the most iconic skyline, beautiful small cities, and stunning mountains.
I can’t recall where this passion was coming from. However, from the age of five, I was confident that there would be a day when I get to come and live in a dreamland called America.
That day has come. I was packing my bags to come and live with an American family.
I spent my first year in the U.S. as an au-pair. Living with the family and taking care of their children provided me with an opportunity to have a cultural experience while having all my expenses covered.
During that year I got hooked on travel and set a goal to visit every state in the United States.
Later on, after the program was over I got into an abusive relationship while trying to continue my education and work at the same time. Being in that unhealthy relationship while trying to stay positive was difficult. It put me through tons of ups and downs and made me learn the toughest lessons of American life.
But, as the saying goes, ‘every cloud has a silver lining. Through my toughest times in the U.S., I got abundantly blessed with the opportunities to meet kind, generous and simply amazing people (American people are truly wonderful, especially in the South) who introduced me to a hospitality business and helped me get my work and residence permit.
I tried working different jobs to learn more about myself.
A few years of my life were spent in Education and Child Care as a Tutor, Professional Nanny, Early Childhood Development Consultant, and Assistant Teacher (read this post about the well-paying jobs that will help you move abroad and see the world.) After that period of my life, I entered the world of hospitality where I worked for boutique, corporate, and luxury hotels across the United States.
Looking back and analyzing my job-related experiences I can tell that subconsciously I was choosing jobs that were providing me with an opportunity to move around.
I was looking for ways not only to travel but to settle down for an extended period of time in a new to me state and city. While living in one part of the country I was able to take trips to neighboring states, get to know the region, meet the people, learn about the local culture, and explore everything that was in that area. I was a spontaneous risk taker who enjoyed her lifestyle.
One day, during the time when I was moving to a new state again, I met my best friend and soulmate Mark. Passion to travel was one of many things we had in common and it kept pushing us towards new horizons.
When we announced our decision to leave the U.S. in order to follow our dream of a travel lifestyle, some of the people around us couldn’t get why we were doing that. Some friends and family members were supportive and encouraging while others are jealous and judgmental.
No matter what their opinion or attitude was they all kept asking the same questions:
- Why do you think you should leave the United States?
- You’ve been working so hard on establishing your life in the States, how so that you are purposefully letting it go and sliding into uncertainty?
- How are you going to support yourself?
- Are you planning to land a job somewhere else?
- For how long are you leaving and when are you coming back?
- Just why tell us why are you doing that?
In short, I think people get the wrong impression about America. Possibly thanks to Hollywood, or local news channels, they mistakenly assume that everyone who lives there has a dream life.
And that’s true, a lot of people have a dream life indeed, but it doesn’t put everyone in this category.
Many Americans find their homes outside the United States. While others simply exist trying to get their needs met. There are a lot of different scenarios and not everyone has an equally awesome life in America. Being a resident or citizen of the United States doesn’t automatically guarantee you will have excess to certain unearned privileges.
Speaking of us, our life was not that dreamy and spectacular. And by no means, it was a miserable one.
It was the average life of an average couple.
Our daily routine consisted of waking up early, going to work and school, wasting our life in traffic (which was taking up to 3 hours per day), occasionally staying in nice airbnbs, coming back home, and eating out.
Like many other people, we went on weekend road trips and sometimes on weekend breaks to different cities in the US like Portland and New York. But we had our standard only two weeks per year vacation. For me personally, vacation lasted only one week. The same routine was taking place the following day or month.
Yes, we lived in sunny Los Angeles, California, held stable promising jobs, drove cars we liked (or not so much), attended some events, tried to travel as much as we could (especially on weekend getaways from LA), and rented a nice apartment not far from the mountains and ocean.
When we moved to LA we loved it for about six months or so. And then we started to feel down. Why? Because it felt like we didn’t live a life of our personal choice and didn’t follow our passions (all about our life in LA in this post)
Some people may think that we had a dream life, but pictures and words cannot display all the reality. Our reality was different.
The quality of our life was not that great. We lived under continuous self-delusion and lots of stress. We felt that we became hostages of some illusionary success and started to measure it by material things: bigger houses, nicer cars, more clothes or unnecessary things. But our overall quality of life suffered.
On average we worked more hours with less vacation (up to 60 hours per week), consumed more than produced, spent more time commuting (3 hours per day in traffic, I don’t know how we did that), lived off of our credit cards, and were saddled with debt.
In America, average ordinary people work, take loans and buy homes with cars. They apply for governmental assistance in case they don’t make enough for a living.
In any event, normal people live comfortable and normal lives, and they like their way of living. For us, weird outliners, a definition of normal was way different.
One day we realized that our life was not about the job that paid weekly bills, about the traffic, a new pair of pants, a fancy meal at the restaurant, Gucci bag, or a car.
It was about so much more. And we strove for more. Not more in the sense of having more things, no not that. We wanted more life in our days and more quality time with each other. Our hearts desired some balance in life, not constant participation in a race. And, more opportunities to be with our families and grow internally, more moments that make us happy and create positive memories.
We didn’t need or want things. We wanted experiences and opportunities to choose for ourselves what to do in life, where and how to live it.
There is nothing wrong with people who love their daily comfort routine. Again, we are all different. If this is their choice that makes them happy then this is the right place to be.
We were not fulfilled and happy because our definition of wealth, success, and happiness was different though. Wealth for us is not how much money we make and how much stuff we can buy. We define it by how much time we have for relationships, activities, and new life experiences.
America was not giving us that chance. That’s why we left.
We left a lifestyle that is very easy to go back to if we ever want to. To buy a return ticket and fly back to America starting all over again does not require a lot. It is not hard to do so.
What is challenging is actually to find a way to become financially and geographically independent and live a life we want, not the one society dictates us. Achieving this lifestyle requires a lot of patience, effort, and perseverance.
Nonetheless, the entire process makes us happy (at least for now) and this is all that matters. Going back to a slippery slope called the “rat race” in America is easy, but we will do our best not to return to it.