The tellers were laughing when I entered the bank, but their expressions hardened as I got closer to the counter.
The blonde one cleared her throat and stared accusingly at me. “Can I help you?”
“I’d like to make a deposit,” I slapped my unemployment check—my last one—down in front of her.
As she processed the transaction, her fingers tapping nervously on the keys like the sleet that was falling outside, her colleague cracked a smile. “How are you today, darlin’?”
“I’ve been better,” I conceded, “but that’s all about to change.”
“And why’s that?”
“I’m moving to China this weekend,” I said, to stares of disbelief. They’d seen me walking along the highway access road, no doubt, and I was depositing a check from the Texas Workforce Commission. As far as they knew, I was some drug-addicted drifter and “China” was the codename for my new halfway house.
They humored me for the duration of my time inside the bank where I had opened my first checking account six years prior, but I could hear both of them cracking up as I walked back out into the cold.
I had the last laugh, of course: That Sunday—November 7, 2009—I landed at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport. I was more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed, to be sure, but I was determined to never again be the object of a stranger’s ridicule.
As I walked off the plane, I wondered whether it had been foolish to use my last open credit card to purchase a ticket overseas and take a job teaching English, sight unseen. As I walked out of English First 10 months after that, I wondered whether setting off on the road, supposedly to create a travel blog but in reality being sustained by mindless articles I wrote for $15 a pop, was a suicide mission. As I accepted my first press trip invitation and, shortly thereafter, signed my first advertising agreement, I wondered whether I’d caught a long wind of good luck, or if I could find a way to control my own flight path.
Seven years later, I’m proud to say I did.
I travel when I want and when I don’t, I live in a beautiful, waterfront apartment in one of my favorite cities in the world. I have plenty of free time to devote to my friends, my family and causes that are important to me. I carry myself with a level of confidence and emotional stability I didn’t even know was possible the first quarter-century of my life. I earn 100% of my income—more, by several orders of magnitude, than from any job I ever worked—from my writing, photography and Travel Coaching service.
Seven years later, I am living the dream that I dreamed into reality.
Whether you’ve been reading Leave Your Daily Hell this whole time or just started today, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my story—and to remind you that my primary goal in doing so is to inspire you to write your own.
After all, if I can go from walking along a highway with an unemployment check in my pocket to flying across the Pacific in business class, just imagine what you can do in seven years.