Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Gap Year

It's been communicated at work now, so I say it's official. I will be unemployed on July 3, 2014. 

I've worked for the same company since I graduated college in 2003. I have and continue to work with some great people, both as my colleagues and the clients that I serve. It has been a demanding job but I achieved more than I had ever hoped or even considered when I started back in September 2003. 

One key goal I did have was to work abroad. I did a semester in Spain my senior year of college and loved it. I remember interviewing and expressing my desire to one day work outside the US. Pretty much at every subsequent meeting to talk about my career, I raised that desire again. Then, in 2008/2009 I was presented with an opportunity to move to Singapore. Asia was not the first place on my list, but I had visited before and had been sold on the merits of the assignment. I moved to a foreign land where I knew no one and lived there for three great years. I made many friends along the way and, to do over, I wouldn't change anything. It was definitely hard work but lots of fun times too that hopefully many of you read about on this blog. I got to travel and see so much of the world. There was a mentality in Asia (or at least among my peers) that was supportive of my love to travel. A weekend trip to Myanmar or Vietnam was pretty normal. 

I moved back to the US in 2012 to the same office and city I had left three years earlier...but it wasn't the same. Lots of new faces, but also some familiar ones. Everyone, myself included, was now three years older and a lot can happen in three years. It was harder than I expected to get back to a comfortable spot. I loved being back closer to family and friends but it wasn't quite the same. 

I hit my 10 year anniversary with the company and I realized I was tired. Burnt out. I could continue to work, but I wasn't super happy. I also wanted to see the world, really the United States. At this point I've seen more outside the US than in. As I started to think about it and weigh options, I came up with all sorts of ideas. My family, friends and work colleagues helped me think through them. Ultimately I decided I wanted to take some extended time for myself. I'm still single, no mortgage payments, no kids to save for, student loans paid off.....if I want to do something a little bit crazy, now is the time. 

No job. I want to travel around the US. Visit friends, see the national parks, recharge. My ideal plan is a year off. We will see how long the funds last and what comes along the way. 

I was talking to my dad and he said something about my "gap year". I've heard this term mostly in Europe used by students in the year before or after their college career. They are often backpacking around Europe or somewhere. I think it fairly aptly describes my plans. I'm having a (slightly delayed) gap year. I have my backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc. and will see how long I can cut it as a 30-something backpacker. 

There are other plans during the year - a family wedding, hiking the inca trail in Peru, visiting a friend in Switzerland, family vacation in Florida.  So I won't just disappear for a year but will try to make the most of it. 

I am excited, slightly uneasy at entering a new venture, but looking forward to the new challenges for myself. You can all follow along as I keep my blog updated for #lmcgapyear!

*As a follow-up to the previous post on my motorcycle skills, I will not be biking around the US. That was one of the many options discussed but I quickly realized I don't have near the skills I need to do that. 


  1. I just open your blog today and I'm really glad I did. Lena I'm really excited for you and predict that you will have a great time learn a lot and see a lot of things. a lot of his think about doing something like that but very few ever really have this ambition to do it. I'll be looking forward to reading your blogs and seeing pictures and wish you well. Phil

  2. So proud of you, and cannot wait to tag along on your adventures as I follow your updates.

  3. That last paragraph was for me, wasn't it??? Thank you. I am so happy that I am crying. Love you, honey, (Quit it!!! I can hear you laughing at your crazy mother.)