Katie Steinharter acrylic on canvas self-portrait

I’m not trying to find myself, I’m trying to find the rest of the world.

I’m not trying to find myself, I’m trying to find the rest of the world.

This isn’t going to be just another blog about how I had a revelation that I should quit my job, about how I saved every penny for years so I could see the world, nor about how I need to “find myself” during a quarter-life crisis.

The truth is— it’s hardly ever easy or planned when you realize its time to leave your job. For me, it came from an accumulation of events that ranged from personal to professional. At the end of the day, it just started to feel more and more like I wasn’t excited to be at work nor that I was growing toward a position that suited my professional goals. As I worked up the courage to quit and move on, I cried, I stressed, I freaked out, and then I got excited.

I may quit many more jobs in my life, but if each one teaches me something then what else can a girl with a craving to learn ask for? Here’s what I learned about working for a small and unpredictable startup:

1. Be your own person. No job is too clearly defined, no role too clearly set. Your own personality will dictate your space, your eagerness and passion will dictate what you can offer.

2. We are all equals. Age is a misnomer, experience is relative, and titles are subjective. Present your ideas with confidence, don’t accept being treated for less than what you are, and remember that a small company is not yet bureaucratic.

3. They need you. Write your strengths and know your worth. Compare to others in similar industries, companies, titles, locations— know you are valuable, and don’t let them sell (or buy!) you short. They may need you more than you need them.

And here’s what I’ve learned about “living the dream” (aka quitting my job, reaching a point of financial fear, and leaving my world behind simply because I’m curious and can’t sit still):

1. Culture is all relative. Traveling to the other side of the world doesn’t make us cultured nor brave nor unique. Billions of people have been traveling across our globe since the dinosaurs let us, but none has done it quite like you. Nobody has been you yet and you are different only because you are you… so don’t be afraid to change your own life by eating something different, speaking a different way, watching your surroundings more slowly, learning about someone else’s life more quickly. Taking baby steps may let you find new cultures where you least expect.

2. It’s all been done. Barenaked Ladies reference intended, its all been done before. You’re not the first one who got sick of their “9 to 5” and wanted to see Thailand and Cambodia. You’re not the only 25 year old who wishes they loved their job more. And the beauty of us millenials? We love to talk, and we love to find technological ways of helping each other. Google (as in the verb that our generation created) blogs, magazines, lists, boards. Financial planning, airline mileage, discount hostels, best street food, volunteer opportunities, work-stay options, emotional baggage, essential packing guides, necessary vaccines and medication… its all out there, written by someone else to help you make your experience a bit smarter.

3. You’re leaving, nobody’s leaving you. Although its scary to pack up your world and “go forth,” remember who you’re leaving behind and how to try to make it a bit easier on them. In my case, this meant bringing pepper spray to give my boyfriend peace of mind, promising to buy a local phone number and text my mother right away, and booking a ticket to Vanuatu to visit my siblings.

Mt Evans Colorado Highway

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