I made an epic-length Facebook announcement a few weeks ago regarding my upcoming extended road trip.
I’ve had a few in-person interactions since then about the post and it almost feels like a game of telephone tag where the information just gets lost in translation somewhere. Even some of the comments on the post itself seemed like they didn’t even read the post….
TJ! I’ll be in Colorado for the next month. Hit me up if you want me to show you around. Thanks, that is kind of you, but I’m working for another six months?
Did you quit your job yet? Not til the End of February…..
How long is your road trip? As long as it needs to be….
There are so many more questions, and I know this is a very foreign concept for a lot of my peers who at this point either have families of their own to support or are riddled in debt and can’t imagine ever taking a career break, or let’s be honest, some of them just prefer to live the baller lifestyle because their parents spoiled them and they don’t know anything else OR, they came from real poverty and are overcompensating because actual poverty is scary AF. Ain’t nothing wrong with any of those life choices. That’s just not where I’m currently at in my life.
I’m glad that people are enthusiastic about my road trip and want to know more. In some regards, I regret making the announcement so early because I have so much longer to wait and I don’t want to just look past the next six months of living. When people ask me about it, I think about it. But I don’t really have much to say because I haven’t planned much. I still have so much I need to take care of before I even think about specific dates of departure and specific dates I’ll be rolling through a given town.
What will I do with all my possessions that won’t fit in the car? Where will I have my mail sent for the duration? What phone carrier should I use? What health insurance will work best? The great thing is that these are all questions that anybody who is considerign something like this is going to have those questions, so it should be semi-interesting blog content for a bigger niche when I get around to tackling it. But I’m not ready to think about those things.
Sure, I can get excited for my road trip by reading about other peoples road trips, I read about how they had planned for it, I read about where they have been and what they thought the highlights were. But the road trips I read about belong to somebody else. And all different kinds of road trips. Short road trips. Long road trips. Foreign road trips. People trying to work electronically on the road. Folks blogging for money. Otherss manufacturing products inside of their RV and selling them on the internet. People getting sponsored to post all of the curated content on Instagram. Any possible story you could think of to support yourself on the road is out there. The thing that all of those stories have in common? They aren’t mine. Those will never be my road trip experience, because I’m not on those road trips.
I might generally think, “well, these are the 30 states I haven’t been to yet, so I’d generally like to make my way through those if the route seems logical, so that I can take advantage of the fact that I don’t have to be anywhere in particular for a while.” And it’s true. But it’s also a very vague answer. And there’s a reason for that.
Even though I’ve announced that it’s happening, I’ve created a blog for it so that I can get in the habit of writing, I’ve told people that I’ll def be hitting them up when I roll through their town (the most exciting part! I went to two blogger events in Las Vegas and those are some of my favorite humans ever. if I haven’t told you yet, doesn’t mean I don’t want to. I literally have no idea where I will be or when.) But the reality of why I can’t give a specific answer about the intended itinerary of my road trip?
The reality is that even though I know that I’m going to go through with it, I still have a lot of fears about just getting in that car and actually doing it. Keep reading if you are intrigued about the fears.
Afraid that people in these faraway places aren’t actually all that different than people here.
I generally assume that I’ve mostly lived in a bubble and that this life change is me breaking that bubble. When I was living in Newport Beach, I distinctly remember a conversation where I was driving one of my roommate’s friends to go check up on on her boyfriend who she thought was cheating on her (Is this real life?) and to make the car ride go faster, she decided to go with some small talk. She asked me what car I would drive if money wasn’t an issue. I responded, “What do you mean? I would still drive this Civic even if I had a million dollars. Why would I drive something different? It works fine. It’s the color I like on the outside. It gets good gas. The air conditioning works good. Maybe I’d spring for some leather seats next time around, but maybe I wouldn’t because I had black leather in my previous car and it got hot AF in the summer.”
SoCal women just don’t know what to do with me. But what if it’s not actually a bubble and it’s not just SoCal women? What if it just the consumeristic country that we generally live in? You see all the hater comments any time an early retiree post goes viral. Maybe that is just how most of the people are who were raised in the cable tv generation have ended up. I’m certainly not going on this road trip seeking love or companionship, but I am hoping to try out some new potential places to call home, so it would be ideal to be relatable to at least some female humans somewhere, considering I don’t want to do this single thing forever.
How to overcome this fear: Have an open mind. Be flexible. If you can’t relate to anyone you meet on an extended road trip, then you probably have some pretty deep introspection to figure out why that is. but if that’s the case, the silver lining is that you’re super independent and always find ways to occupy yourself just fine. But really, be flexible.
Afraid of Inclement Weather
Spending 31 years of my life in Southern California, the number of time I’ve personally driven in snow is zero. I drive a Honda Civic. I don’t have any chains and even if I did, I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them.
How to overcome the fear: Plan the route the best you can to avoid it. But, I mean, there was that huge hoo-hah about snow in Atlanta a couple years ago. Mother nature does what mother nature does. Another way to overcome this, which I definitely plan on doing, is upgrading my AAA membership to the most premium option which increases the quantities of available tows and the longest distance per tow. Does AAA even rescue you from the snow though? Or are you SOL? Maybe I should invest in some chains and watch some YouTube videos re: chains. Haha.
Afraid of People Not Liking Me
There are a lot of bloggers who I haven’t met yet, but would certainly like to. When I went to Bloggers in Sin City in 2011 and 2012, I had great fun. It was by far the biggest “leaving the comfort zone” experience of my life and I met some great people. These are some of the people I hope to see again on this road trip! But it seemed like the majority of the other attendees from either year made several BFF’s at that event. No blogger BFF’s for me.
A lot of folks flying into SoCal for VidCon or whatever, a city that has generally been 20 miles away from me, number of times they wanted to see me: Zero. Though I did fly out to Utah to spend a weekend with a friend. Which was amazing. Plus when I was lost in Salt Lake City and asked for directions, people were super nice.Why do people seem so nice everywhere else? Yet here in SoCal, it seems like most people who are out and about are staring at their phone or listening to something with earbuds.
I couldn’t help but ask myself: What the heck did I do wrong at these events? Drinking is something that I don’t generally enjoy, but I still did drink with those people. I hate dancing, but I tried to dance, at least the first year.
I may be this outspoken dude on the internet who comments the shit out of everyone’s blogs and is completely incapable of limiting himself to the character limit in a Twitter reply, but in person, I’m generally quiet AF unless I am really comfortable with somebody. One would assume it’d be easy to talk to PF nerds, because we have that common interest in a typically conversational taboo that most people don’t like, but who knows.
Here’s a secret though: I generally just assume that people don’t like me as much as I like them. I’ve literally never been invited to any weddings that I wasn’t related to via either blood or adoption. Yet the blogosphere is full of all these blog posts of people lamenting the ridiculously high cost of wedding attendance and wedding gifts. I’m pretty sure I even alienated a blog friend the time I left a sort of ranty snarky comment on her post on this topic. How come all these people have so many people in their lives who seem to value them enough to invite them to share that very special day? Can’t help but feel a little jealous that I don’t seem to develop the sort of friendships that would warrant a wedding invite, which everyone else whom I read around my age apparently has a surplus of.
How to overcome this fear: Stop thinking about it for one. If someone didn’t like me, why would they agree to make time out of their busy schedules for me in the first place? Also, do my best not to let others dominate the conversation. People generally do like talking about themselves, but most of them do not enjoy talking to themselves. I sure as hell don’t.
Afraid of Not Liking Life on the Road.
What if AirBNB hosts typically cheap out when investing in mattresses? What if the typical AirBNB host is actually a jerk just trying to make a buck? Also the distance. The longest distance that I’ve driven by myself? Probably two hours. The longest I’ve driven with a passenger with me? Probably the same two hours. We didn’t do a lot of road trips growing up, which is why I kind of like the idea of doing something different as an independent adult.
I did a very brief road trip with my dad earlier this summer. We went to my grandfather’s submarine reunion / memorial service in Alabama. It was cheaper to fly into New Orleans than Alabama, so we drove through Mississippi and it was a lot of fun. But I had my dad with me for conversation. He is also the one who drove. Part of the motivation for the extended road trip was that people we met on that trip in the south seemed so incredibly friendly and down to earth. But see fear #1. Maybe it’s a show for the tourists. Maybe this whole “people in the South and Midwest are so much more awesome” is something I’ve created in my head. People are always going to be people first, no matter where you are.
How to overcome the fear: There’s no easy button for this one folks, you just have to give it an honest shot and hope for the best. I mean, I could go away for a long weekend somewhere, but I’ll know that I have the safety and routine to return to my current life at the end of the long weekend, so it wouldn’t be an accurate simulation, other than determining if there is such a thing as too much driving in one day…but I’ll get to learn that anyway on the road. 🙂
Afraid of Feeling Like a Fraud
It’s no secret that I’ve had more than a little help in my upbringing to get me to where I am today. Does that mean my story will not be remotely helpful to anyone who wants to plans a similar adventure and probably doesn’t have my privilege? If so, does that mean that I’m just not relatable and my blog is never going to be monetizable?
How to overcome that fear: Tell yourself to get over yourself. And actually get over yourself. There’s a lot of people in the history of the world who have had the same or more good fortune in life and they pissed it all away. You’re already doing better than those people. Because you’re not bankrupt or planning to end up bankrupt. If you want to tell your story, that in itself makes it a story worth telling. Even if nobody can be bothered to read it. Plus, there are always going to be people out there with similar privilege who are still spinning in the hamster wheel and just have never considered that deviating from that narrative is an option. Who cares if you can’t monetize the blog. That’s not why you chose to go on the road trip and that’s not why you started the blog.
That pretty much sums up my fears at this point. You’ll notice that absolutely none of them have anything to do with running out of money. Unless I magically transform into a baller on the road, I SHOULD be OK financially, thank goodness. But clearly I have enough on my mind without considering that.