Finding the Road Less Traveled

MAY 5, 2014

Photo by Emily Long

The summer after I graduated from college, I had an awakening. So many things in my life were changing course and I was confused, happy, scared, mad, stressed, and excited all at the same time. This sounds like an intro to a Taylor Swift song—but hear me out!

I had a degree in my hand and a backpacking trip planned, but there I was, in bed, crying. The guy I had been dating for almost three years had convinced me that we were not a great fit, and I was feeling the shock of it all. He had been a huge part of my life – he was my best friend. Now what?

It’s funny that as I write this, I know that I owe him a huge thank you. I went on my backpacking trip, and it changed my life. After walking The Camino De Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage through Spain, my whole perspective on life changed. I realized I had not been living the life I wanted to live. I met amazing people of all ages and soaked up so many inspirational stories during that trip. I think everybody on The Camino is on a secret search for one thing or another.

After getting back home to Georgia, I packed up my car and drove to Austin. My best friend from college was living there and convinced me that I was a perfect fit. She could not have been more right! In an instant, I felt at home, and it was in Austin that I met the very talented Drew Davis.

My friend Drew moved to Austin a little over a year ago with hopes of following her dreams and pursuing music. Drew had just graduated from UGA, and like me, was ready for a new adventure. Yet, she soon got caught up in her “safe marketing job” and forgot about her dreams. After a year, she realized she wasn’t happy. She quit her job, and hit the road. I consider myself a very cautious person, but there are rare moments in my life where I jump at opportunities that are very risky because human intuition kicks in, and it just feels right. I too was unhappily working at a “safe job,” so I decided to join Drew for a little adventure. I allowed my entrepreneurial spirit to take over and relied on my online Etsy store, Nine89, to help me pay for food.

Drew and I were on the road together for two months. We met so many amazing and kind individuals, I will forever be the best possible host to anybody who stays with me down the road. We never had to stay in a hotel – instead, we were welcomed by friends, family and complete strangers, each with a great story to share. Drew documented many of our stories on her blog for those who want to hear more about our adventures. We were able to reach about 20 cities through our two months on the road and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Drew and I learned that pursuing what you love is not always the easiest thing – life becomes even more unpredictable than it already is under normal circumstances. There is a price to the kind of freedom that comes with building your own path.  But it’s a price worth paying.  Drew will go on to tour the United States until she leaves for Germany in the fall to continue her musical adventure with Songs and Whispers, a live music and artist development network.

As for me, now that I am back in Austin with a newfound understanding of the sacrifices of going your own way, I am really concentrating on steps that will help me move forward with my goals. I believe women our age can get stuck in a certain mindset–they are following some sort of unspoken law. They go to school, they graduate, get a 9-5 job and then eventually get married. I hope Drew and I can remind women to think outside of the box – that they don’t have to let dreams fade away.

When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you can truly reach your full potential, and all the insight and confidence you’re capable of follows naturally. So get unstuck, get uncomfortable; women can do so much and we are so strong! It is a scary world out there, but nothing great is going to happen if you stay stuck.

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