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Inspiration

A Travel Induced Quarter Life Crisis

By
Cat Sullivan
on
July 10, 2018

Traveling abroad can be so powerful it induces a quarter life crises (in a good way). Here's how to overcome and embrace it.

My name is Cat Sullivan, I’m 26 years old, and earlier this year I decided to take a trip alone. 

Not only was I sick of not having anyone to travel with but I had an overwhelming itch for adventure and a temptation to push myself outside my comfort zone. 

I stumbled upon U30X, and impulsively booked the Costa Rica Rainforest trip. I did not consult anyone, or really think through my decision, but it ended up being the best thing I had ever done.

arenal-volcano-selfie
Arenal Volcano selfie

The Experience

Upon arriving in Costa Rica, I met the group who I would build some unforgettable memories with, and let me tell you – the memories are amazing. 

Ziplining above an endless sea of trees, kayaking at the base of a volcano, waking up to practice rainforest yoga, relaxing in the natural hot springs – I can’t possibly pick a favorite, I was in pure bliss. 

Somewhere between the laughter, my fear of bugs, dozens of Imperial cervezas, my broken Spanish, and “sort of” learning to salsa, I found myself. 

At the airport saying our goodbyes, I realized how much I would miss this place. I had fallen in love with Costa Rica, the people, the culture, the language, the reggae – all of it. 

I remember crying at the gate because I knew life would never be the same. I had changed so much in just five days and I would kill for just another week or two...or ten, in paradise.

group-in-costa-rica-rainforest

The Quarter Life Crisis

Soon after arriving home, I sunk into a hole. 

I had heard of post-travel depression, but never had I ever experienced something like this and it shook me to my core.

Cue the quarter life crisis.

I spent the next few days thinking about how my life wasn’t fulfilling, my job wasn’t rewarding, and I wasn’t happy. 

I got in a mindset that I needed to make a change and I had to make that change immediately. 

I started tapping all of my resources asking: 

How could I work remote? What does it take to live in Costa Rica? How quickly can I become fluent in Spanish? How can I make a career change? 

It seemed like every time I found an opportunity I fell short. I was becoming so frustrated because I felt like I was living my life all wrong, but had no way to fix it. I felt so helpless.

What I didn’t realize is through all of this I was suffering. My health was taking a hit, my productivity at work declined, and I was pushing people who cared about me out of my life. 

I refused to slow down and take a look at what I had. Instead, I was set on a single idea that could not wait another day. 

It wasn’t until a month later (during another trip) that I found some clarity.

hanging-bridge-in-costa-rica

I was in Colorado, hiking in the Rockies, surrounded by endless beauty and a couple of good friends when I realized that things were not as bad as I was convincing myself they were. 

I have a great job with great benefits that allow me to take time off and travel, a support system that would do anything to see me happy and I’m still so young (this is only the first quarter life crisis after all) – I have so much time left to figure it all out!

Slowly but surely things fell back into place. 

Sure, I have changed – I’ve lost all desire to buy things and instead have been throwing all of my money into future travels. 

I’m not killing every spider that I see crawl across my bedroom ceiling, and I’ve traded Netflix binges for Spanish flashcards in the evenings. 

I was able to find a sense of peace in where I am at now and set some goals for myself moving forward. 

I may not be exactly where I want to be right now, but I am slowing it down a bit – and I know I’ll get there eventually.

So here it goes: what I learned from my quarter life crisis.

Pace Yourself

Good things take time and you can’t rush them. 

I am taking steps to go after what I want at a pace that makes sense. Life is a balancing act and sometimes we can lose sight of all the things that matter to keep us stable. 

One goal of mine is to become fluent in Spanish. 

I’ve incorporated Spanish into my daily routine and have already seen really great progress! I’m also looking to study at a Spanish school later this year.

Plan Another Trip

arenal-observatory-frog

I swear this isn’t an advertising push to sell more U30X trips. 

The easiest way to overcome a vacation hangover is to plan another trip. Give yourself something to look forward to – you deserve it! 

I planned several trips to TulumBelizeCosta Rica (again) and Peru

I’m excited to practice my Spanish while I’m there, meet new people, and challenge myself once again.

Don’t Feel Like You Have to Do it Alone

I wish I would have known this sooner. 

It can be overwhelming coming back from a trip that has had such a profound impact on your life. My advice is to consult a good friend of family member (preferably one with a travel bug). 

U30X also offers so many resources and a whole network of people to connect with. Find what interests you and start a conversation. 

I reached out to so many people about career opportunities and it has been extremely helpful to get a fresh perspective. As always, I’m open to talking too!

Finally...

I’ll end by saying that by no means am I giving up on a dream. I would love for my life to take me to Costa Rica. 

I would love a change of pace, and would love to find what makes me feel alive. 

Maybe my love affair with Costa Rica was a hot one, but maybe I’ll find a stronger love for Belize or Peru or somewhere else in this beautiful world. 

The point is, after the experience of traveling abroad, I can't go back to life the way it was before. It may take some time to get to where I ultimately want to be but each day will be better since I know I'll be closer to what I really want.

I’m so grateful for U30X opening my eyes to all the potential that is out there – I think now I have the tools to live my fullest life.

Cat Sullivan
Bio: Cat is an U30X alumni currently living and working in Chicago, IL. She enjoys short walks to the fridge and bad karaoke.

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