“And I reacted accordingly.” Argh.
I’m really intrigued by this - did you hike the whole Appalachian trail? That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but for me it would involve finding someone willing to take the six months and make the hike through, because I don’t feel like it’s something that’s necessarily safe for a single woman to do alone.
After putting some thought into this, I think I have to agree with Coldfire.
SenorBeef is young, capable, and unfettered by real responsibilities. Traveling and seeing the world before he settles down when he knows what he wants is a great idea.
In fact, it’s what I wanted to do, but alas, I’ve been hemmed in by lack of cash, poor luck, and my wife going and having herself a baby.
Some time after high school I was slogging through menial 9-5 work for what seemd like eons and I just needed to get away (actually, I was working all through high school as well, so I really needed a break).
I took time off from work, saved a little cash, and one day I called my mom at work and told her I was going on vacation.
I hopped in the car and drove to place I’d never been before in North Carolina, enjoyed the weather, did some writing, took turns between a cheap motel and sleeping in the car to save cash and generally just relaxed and basked in the change of atmosphere.
It was wonderful. I would heartily suggest you get away for a while.
For an entertaining and informative take on the Appalachian trail, may I recommend A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
Coldfire would be happy to take you to Maastricht to visit a nice little riverboat cafe where the serve the finest (ok, this part was BLUNTly snipped to remove any activities that may apROACH illegaility here at the Straight DOPE.) (sorry about that lol… and I was in no way implying that Coldfire is involved in anything like like that. That bad joke was my own only.)
Seriously though, he is right. TRAVEL. Shoestring budget, backpack, hostels, eating lots of bread and drinking wine. Work your way around Europe. Just get away for at least 6 months.
Ack… I am sorry about the “lol”… I should know better!
SenorBeef, I can totally sympathize. I am in the same spot you’re in. It’s the need to just change. It’s like the way of life is too repetitive. Like you, I too am in an IT position. I feel I would better serve the world if I made some kind of a difference rather than push 1’s and 0’s. Sure I’m the hero when I fix your PC or get your report transmitted on time, but I just don’t get any satisfaction out of it. It’s too mundane. I would rather help people in a more humanitarian way. I would love to experience a culture other than mine. I’m not saying that my culture is bad, but I feel the need to experience something more. Is that so wrong?
Whoops, sorry. I know you’re not in an IT position, but are in school for it. You know what I mean.
To clarify, on the military thing, I wouldn’t be going in there to discover what I was made of. I, like a lot of people, as cheesy as it might sound, have a warrior spirit somewhere in me that’s been suppressed by the limits and taboos of civilized society.
If I were to join the military, it would be strictly to get into a position likely to see combat to live out that spirit.
It’s somewhat tangenital to the other examples I used - but as it was a viable major life change, I did use it as an example. The military experience, in general, I have no taste for - but to be a warrior in a combat unit is enourmously appealing.
SenorBeef, if you want a real change in your life and your outlook, why not look for some work on the land?
few things can get more “real” than planting things and watching them grow, or working with animals. you’d have options like pure farming (crops only), livestock handling (anything from chickens, turkeys, hogs, cattle, sheep, llamas, ostriches or horses), to raising/training domestic animals (horses, dogs, helper monkeys, etc.). i’m sure if you look around, there ought to be something that appeals to you. i imagine associations like the ASPCA and various Rescue leagues are always on the lookout for volunteers.
just another avenue you could explore.
Unless you’re ready to travel, think about finding some opportunities to work with the invisible people right in your own community: the seriously mentally ill, people with mental handicaps, hospice volunteerism, veteran’s hospitals… I am a child of privilege, also, but a four-year job with an inpatient facility for seriously mentally ill adults cured me forever of my sense of entitlement.
People who would give ANYTHING to be normal, like you, are the best teachers in the world. Living around them day to day can be scary, but so is travel. The idea is to come to a point where you are living in a state of grace and gratitude for what you’ve been given. All those talents and gifts you have, where would you be without them? What if you were stripped of your personality? What if you could no longer understand what you’re reading? What if you were facing a lonely, sick death?
Go be with THOSE people, then come back and let us know how you are.
Not the whole trail by any means. I started off in Front Royal (I went to a military school there) and headed south. I was out of the Shenandoah National park and somewhere in North Carolina when I got off the trail and hiked home.
As for safety, I really can’t comment to that. I met a lot of people on the trail, some kind of squirrely, others very very nice, and one that I still keep in touch with. The AT is not, as far as I know, necessarily a dangerous place for a single woman. I probably met upwards of twenty single women on extended hikes on the AT (by extended I mean more than a week) and none of them seemed to nervous about it.
In a true safety sense, though, it’s always best to pack with a companion in case you injure yourself or need help.
To clarify, I’m not a “child of privilege” - I’ve always been poor. I was comparing conditions in this country to those elsewhere with that reference, where even to be poor here is far, far better than the average life in many places.
Sure it counts, and I hope you had a lot of fun.
But as you said, that’s 18 years. The traveling suggestion could be covered in one year, perhaps even less. By the time he’d finish a military exercise like yourself, the kid’s ready for his midlife crisis.
I’ll side with Lucretia on the military idea. You may think you have a “warrior sprirt”, but there’s no real way to know until you actually do the combat thing. Combat isn’t likely to come your way unless you are in the military, is it?
In addition, the military can teach you to be an auto or aircraft mechanic, to name just a few of hundreds of options. Sounds like you may like that better than an being an IT person.
Traveling about the world sounds fine. “You can spend a year in SE Asia for about $8,000”. Where the hell are you going to get $8,000?
Spend the next four years with Uncle Sam: You’ll be focused and confident when your hitch is up. My time in there worked wonders for me, at a time in life when I was drifting about without any sort of anchor. (And there’s always a chance that you’ll “get lucky” and and have a chance to shoot at somebody/ get shot at by somebody.)
This may be more mild than you are looking for, but how about you sign up with the local Red Cross and work for some of the other agencies in your local environ.
It may sound silly but even here at home there are many people that live with virtually nothing. Given the current state of the economy, there are probably more people that need help.
With the Red Cross, you can sign up to learn new skills like search and rescue and if an earthquake, tornado, God Forbid another terrorist attack, your services may be needed.
Just a thought that’s a little closer to home.
Well, I appreciate the thought, but I’m not really looking at this specifically to get into humanitarian aid. If something compatable with my need for a drastic change happens to also be humanitarian, that’s great - but a drastic need to change my life in some way is the overriding priority.
I also agree with Lucretia. I would suggest the military. I am going to also suggest the priesthood. I would imagine THAT’s a life changing decision…
The military sounds like a bad idea because you can’t change your mind once you’ve signed up. When changing one’s life drastically, I think flexibility is a good thing.
The Military will change your life.
It is also nothing like what you think it is. The odds are against you seeing combat, unless you actually go in and tell them you want to be a groundpounder.
Every aspect of your life will be regimented, with strict rules and boundaries far more strict and structured that anything you’ve had to deal with to date.
The US military does not put people in touch with their “Warrior Spirit”. If you want to do that, go to China and train martial arts. There are several schools that offer programs of that nature.
Of try to get hooked up with a PMC (try www.sandline.com ) for an idea.
What, exactly, is it you’re trying to get away from? We can’t help if you can’t come up with anything besides neo-hippy crap.