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  • Writer's pictureKatja

I Think I Can... So Why Not Try?

During the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, I became a remote worker. I applied, interviewed, and was offered a position all from the comfort of my own living room. The nature of my work would be somewhat transitory with frequent travel around the state written into my position description. It became doubly apparent that I would not be an office-based employee anytime soon.

At first, the transition was difficult. I missed the cubicle camaraderie and felt isolated. I was accustomed to traveling a lot but always coming back to a permanent workstation. Now that station was my home, and for the majority of 2020, I was encouraged to stay put and not leave my front door at all.

I am privileged to have gainful employment and a wonderful rental home that I could afford without having a roommate during the pandemic. It has been a long road to get here, full of bouncing between places and relying on friends and family to bail me out as I struggled through the familiar millennial burdens of credit card debt amassed from the recession years, student loans with uncapped interest accumulation, and the financial burdens of two failed marriages that taught me how costly trying to accommodate the other party and not involve an attorney can be. As I tell my friends, "I am so glad to leave my 20s behind--the closer I get to 40, the happier I will be!" I am still recovering from the hardships of those years, but I am also very aware of how blessed I am. I have a lot of unasked for privilege going for me as a cis-gender heterosexual white female, and I openly acknowledge that. It does not mean my life has been easy, but it does mean I have had many different and often easier experiences than many others have. While I cannot know the struggles of others, I will share that I have faced several years of slowly selling off possessions, working three and four jobs at a time, and relying on the charity of others to get me through some difficult periods. Now, twelve years after graduating college and realizing that the world was not as accessible as I thought it would be, I am finally treading water and no longer fighting the current that tries to suck me under.

Our society was not designed to allow a single woman with two dogs and a full-time job to survive on her own; figuring out how to pay rent and utilities, work long hours, eat well, take care of the house, care for me, care for my dogs, and give back to the community through volunteering and acts of service... it has been a long, hard battle.

"I wish you had a good life partner" is a refrain I hear from my loved ones a lot. Truth be told, I do too, but more often I wish that this life was easier for those who are not so fortunate as to have a stable plus-one in their adulthood.

I tried doing what society showed me I should. I have been in long-term relationships and married twice. When things went downhill in both marriages, I fought hard to make them work. I even took the route of compromising my happiness and health in the second marriage to the point that the stress eventually crashed my immune system and I was hospitalized for four days in the year following the divorce.

I tried standing on my own two feet and showing the world that I did not need a man to complete me. I followed the liberated and female-empowering ways of making it on my own. I learned a lot and found ways to climb the ladder to better-paying positions and more lucrative career paths. I taught myself to function alone to the point of no longer being present enough to sustain close friendships, nonetheless a romantic relationship. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far.

Then, 2020 came along. The year that turned the world on its head. I lost a lot, from celebrations and traditions to coworkers and people close to my heart. Yet in the midst of the tumult, I gained a lot, too.

I learned how to be smarter with my money so I could survive without a roommate. I learned new skills so I could fill essential worker roles and bring in extra income to fight down my crippling debt. I learned how to be a successful remote worker. I learned that I was much more resilient than I thought.

As 2021 dawned, vaccinations became available. The science and vaccines brought along hope and a more positive outlook. I began to dream of what would come next. Would I meet someone? Would I be able to travel again? Would I go back to an office?

I began to read about people working remotely from vacation rentals in Hawaii and cities offering incentives to remote workers who would move there and help the economy. I saw coworkers take working vacations where they clocked in from resorts to work and then played in the evening and on the weekends. I heard of the growing nomadic culture and the growing craze of #boondocking and #vanlife. I wondered if any or all of these things would work for me.

As spring drenched the Pacific Northwest in raindrops and sunlight, I felt a growing desire to find a new home. I am a homebody in many ways--I love having a basecamp to return to. I enjoy a comfortable bed, a big kitchen, and a yard for my dogs. I have no wish to become a nomadic traveler without a permanent place to call home, but I felt the world calling and realized that where I had been for the last three years was a good house but not a true home.

I began to explore the next steps and where to begin looking for that future landing zone. So many ideas and opportunities. For the first time, I was not trying to base a decision around a partner or a job; I was dating but nothing was serious, and my position appeared to be remote for the foreseeable future.

"I think I can leave," I found myself thinking. "I think I can hit the road for a while. Try out new places. Stay with family and friends to save money for a house someday but also give some areas a try. I think it might be possible now, for the first time in my life, to stop trying to do things the right way and to take a chance on a few things. I think I can..."

The more I thought about it, the less sense it made to stay put, and the more I liked the idea of giving myself a year to wander. With the safety net of my wonderful parents in between adventures and the gift of saved income from no longer paying rent, I knew I could try without risking a return to the near-destitute struggles I had so recently escaped from. I had never had a chance like this before and might not have more opportunities to come, so why not try?

I think I can do it. I think I can give up stability for a little while and see where life takes me. I think I can become a better remote employee by downsizing the distractions of home and the chaos of clutter. I think I will be a happier, more whole individual if I stop waiting for someone to come fit into my carefully crafted life and instead let life be lived without so much control.

I think I can... so I am going to try.

By the time you read this, I will be all but moved out of the house that has been a home for three years. My household items will be packed into storage, given away, and thinned down to the minimal amount needed for the next few months. My dogs will be enjoying some relaxing time at my parents' farm while I sort through the final details and then take off on the adventure of a lifetime this summer that will launch my journey into this next phase.

Where am I going?

Everywhere and nowhere.

Join me on this crazy adventure!

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