Many of us dream of leaving our full-time jobs to do exciting things, like travel to Africa or Iceland. Many people always talk about wanting to just pack up all of their stuff and begin their traveling adventure, but a lot of people are too scared to do so. Perhaps more people should just go to this site, book a campervan, and head off around Iceland for a while. That could be fun and exciting. Perhaps more people should consider doing that. Dream chaser Alexis Grant just returned from a solo backpacking expedition in Africa – and wrote a travel memoir to boot – and now she dreams of finding full-time work and building her life in Washington, D.C. Read on to hear Alexis’ perspective on overcoming your fears and taking the leap…
Q: Tell us about yourself. What’s your dream and how are you working towards it?
AG: I’m a journalist. I left my reporting job at a large newspaper in May 2008 — whoa, that’s almost two years ago now! — to backpack and freelance in Africa. I recently finished writing a book about the experience. So I really fulfilled two dreams in two years: embarking on a solo backpacking trip and writing a travel memoir. And now, after all that adventure, my next dream is kind of ironically mundane: I’d love to get a full-time job, find my own place (I lived with my parents while writing the book) and start to put roots down in Washington, D.C.
Q: Describe a gray time in your life. How did it stand between you and your dreams? How did you overcome it?
AG: To be honest, I’m kind of having one of those times right now. In some ways, I feel incredibly fulfilled, having just checked off some big items on my bucket list. But I’m at a place now where I don’t know what’s next. I’m working toward getting my book published and finding a job, but both those challenges require a lot of patience. I imagine I’ll look back at this and say it all worked out — isn’t it always easier in retrospect? — but at this very moment, without knowing what my future holds, I do feel a little lost, floating amongst the gray.
Q: What fears have you faced as you chase your dreams?
AG: It’s hard to leave everything behind to do something you’ve always wanted to do, and especially hard to leave a job you love. But the biggest challenge, I believe, is not actually doing it, but making the decision to do it. There’s fear behind that decision, fear that’s based on risk. I worried most about finding a job when I got back home. But a lot of that fear dissolved once I made the decision to GO. You’ve got to trust yourself to follow your gut — and everything else will eventually fall into place.
Q: What inspires you to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough?
AG: What choice do we have? If someone would do the hard parts for me, I’d let them. Even pay them! But the only way the hard decisions are going to get made is if we make them for ourselves. We’re in charge of our own lives. When I find myself complaining or stuck in a rut, I remind myself of that: I chose this life. If I’m sick of it, I can always choose another path.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is struggling to move beyond the gray and follow a dream, what would it be?
AG: Trust yourself enough to take the leap. People often tell me I’m lucky that I got to travel through Africa or I’m lucky I got to write a book. I don’t buy that. When I was making the decisions to take those paths, I faced many of the same barriers, the same life challenges, as the people who think I’m lucky. The truth is, we make our own luck. I’m sort of a hard-ass (can I swear on this blog?!) when it comes to that — I’ve got very little sympathy for people who don’t make their dreams happen. If you want to do something, go for it! Nobody’s gonna do it for you.
Are you someone who’s chasing a dream? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
E-mail me at: erika (dot) liodice (at sign) hotmail (dot) com.