Letting People Know You Are Leaving

 

A sunny day with Brandon standing next to his Dad with the beach in the bakground
My Dad thought I was high when I told him I was leaving.

I’ve had a great time telling people about my trip. It’s something I think about all the time so of course it is something I enjoy talking about. At first, I was hesitant to let anyone know that I wanted to leave. I didn’t want people to think I was judging their lifestyle in any way, as most people I know have not taken six months off to travel through multiple foreign countries on their own. This action is an abrupt departure from the normal college, career, house, family, retirement path that a majority of Americans, many of my friends and family included, have followed. I know this type of travel is far more common and expected in other cultures, but not in U.S. culture. This type of action is probably even less common in the Architecture/Construction/Engineering world. I have spoken to multiple senior level managers about their career history and there is a common thread – most of them have worked from the day they graduated college until now, taking, at maximum, two-week vacations once every couple of years. And I can guess what these “vacations” are probably like – an expensive whirlwind of activity, lugging overweight baggage from airport to shuttle to resort, sipping Pina Coladas with a bunch of other Americans, being bused from tourist trap to tourist trap as local life is segregated by language, skin color and air conditioned spaces. I have heard of guys that have worked in the construction industry their entire lives, never taking more than a couple of days off at a time. They wear this career history as a badge of honor but I see it as a lost opportunity to explore other, potentially interesting paths to personal growth.

So I’m always excited to tell people about my trip, even if I am apprehensive about how I may make them feel. The first couple of people I told were close friends who I knew would be excited about my decision. I then told my Mom. She has always been supportive of my decisions, whatever they may be, but she also has her own underlying agenda and idea of what my life should be, as most parents do. Also, she is a tax adviser for H&R Block. She sees a lot of clients struggling, on and off unemployment, and she wants grandchildren, like yesterday. She told me she was concerned about my finances, my career opportunities when I return, and that this would delay her dream of having grandchildren. I told her I am comfortable with my finances, my career opportunities and that I am not ready for kids. There was a brief stalemate, then she said “I love you, I know you’re going to do whatever you want anyways, so have fun!” She is a great Mom.

Next I told my Dad. His initial response: “You must be stoned. Are you high right now?”. I assured him I was not, that I have had this dream for some time. He then rattled off a few more questions: “What are you, some kind of free spirit? How much money do you have? What are your plans when you return? Are you trying to be the most interesting man in the world?” Not the most supportive response, but funny enough for me to have to pull the phone away from my ear while I stifled a chuckle. I answered most of his questions and we  came to some kind of understanding, as we usually do.

My trip came up for the first time during breakfast with some of my extended family and my  Uncle, pounding his fist on the dinner table in mock anger, exclaimed “why don’t you have a mortgage? That’s so irresponsible of you!” That tongue in cheek comment was later followed by the sincere statement that from the day he saw a picture of Machu Picchu as a child, he had wanted to visit. He has yet to make it there.

Having informed my family and friends that this thing was for real, I now had to break the news to my company. The contract I was under at the time had a one year limit, which gave me a nice, clean end date to plan towards. In the construction industry on each project you make commitments to clients, subcontractors, designers and coworkers that make it very difficult to take time off during a project. But between projects there exists great opportunity for personal change, as your time becomes freed up and the transition to something new is only natural. As I told various Project Executives and Managers about my plan, the response was overwhelmingly positive. A few told me they wish they had done something similar. They offered to let me keep my health care benefits if I left for three months instead of six (I declined). They helped me navigate HR, and they asked me to work on another project over the summer until I left in September. The company has always treated me well, and I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have had to work on cool projects with sweet staff.

It’s been great talking about this trip, but I am seriously ready to go! Thanks for reading. I would like some feedback – is there something that you want to do but you are afraid to tell anyone about it? Email me!

  • Debbie Wilson

    Brandon: I think this is great! Nikki just returned from 366 days in SA and had a wonderful time. I know she would love to share her travels w/you and give you her take on the experiences of a gringo in SA! I was there for 4 weeks and it was amazing! Macchu Picchu is a must but so is Huanupicchu and the SacredValley. I’m excited for you it will be a life changing experience!

    • Brandon

      Thanks Debbie. Yeah Nikki just contacted me so I’m going get the scoop from her!

  • Danielle Gerbracht

    Sounds like a blast! Good for you :). Can’t wait to see the photos!
    My best,
    D

  • Terriann Nohilly

    I just read your article (start to finish!). So pumped for you! Seriously this is a great great thing, I am impressed. You go Brandon! Be sure to keep a bloggin’, be safe, cleanse and explore your aura, navigate new lands, get drunk, and have fun!!!

    • Brandon

      Will do Terriann. Glad you were able to make it start to finish, I hope I can keep you hooked. Thanks for the support!

  • Louise

    Have lots of fun for all of us that will never have the chance.
    Please see the world for all of us, take lots of pictures, tell us what we’re looking at.
    Taste the foods, collect the same thing from every country…Just a Thought
    Be Safe minded, take good care.

    Louise

    • Brandon

      Thanks Louise, I hope you enjoy!

  • B-Rand,

    This is a sweet post and it reminds me of all the reasons I consider you one of my closest friends. I am honored to have Boise ID be your jumping off point from western civilization into the brave new world of South America and look forward to having a helluva time sending you off. I know you aren’t the cliched new breed of hippy-hipster that harbors a hate towards human progress – you *are* the most interesting man in the world! You understand the West – it’s highs and lows – the productive capacity which makes it so fantastic. The west’s way of life is so economically dominant that, before long “the west” will be synonymous with “the world” – you are taking the time to go explore the rest of the world before that happens. I love you dude – cannot wait to live it up in September. Please keep everyone posted on FB, or whatever other media platform you choose.

    • Brandon

      Mitch – you get me, you really do. Haha, I can’t wait to get this thing started with you up in Boise in September. I’m proud to be able to call you my friend.

  • Kim

    That is hilarious! He was probably *hoping* you were stoned 😉 My parents had a similar response, but I have been surprised at how supportive they are now that I am on the road. Congrats on your adventure!

    • Brandon

      Thanks Kim, same to you!

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