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~*Some personal news*~
Move it on down the road
Last Sunday was one of the hardest days I’ve had in months. It was the day I would find out whether or not I received the Substack fellowship.
When I applied for the fellowship a couple of weeks earlier, I found myself cautiously hopeful. The four selected fellows would receive guidance from newsletter professionals and a large monetary advance, which would help catapult me forward over the next six months. To apply, I had to put together a business plan with my ambitions for Cruel Summer Book Club and myself over the next five years. Some big dreams came pouring out of me. I want to eventually integrate paid subscriptions into this newsletter so the work I do here can help financially support me. I want to start a podcast, and write books, and travel the country as a public speaker. I discovered some brand new desires.
After I submitted my application, I manifested my success. I told my friends and family I had applied, always adding, “I know it’s a long shot. If I get it, great! And if I don’t, that’s okay too.”
So last Sunday, nervous and worried, I went to Prospect Park to take a long walk. I called a couple of friends and listened to podcasts. But I still found myself plagued by anxiety. I checked my email obsessively, hoping to get the news. I had an irrational fear that I had never actually submitted the application; I kicked myself for not submitting twice, just in case. By 4pm, I understood that if I hadn’t heard by now, I hadn’t gotten the fellowship. I sat by the lake and cried.
My intense emotional reaction surprised me. I’ve been through plenty of rejections like this in my career, and I was realistic about my chances from the start (10 applicants out of almost 1000 were ultimately chosen as fellows). Plus I already did win a Substack grant, just three months ago! The hedonic treadmill is a real bitch.
I soon recovered from my disappointment, then had an epiphany. This opportunity had felt different to me because of how much I wanted it. It has been so, so long since I really wanted something for myself. I saw an opportunity that could be great for me, I worked hard on my application, I actively put hope into the world, and I grieved the loss when it came my way. Do you know what this means? I’m emotionally invested in my own life again! And, most importantly, I’m ready for my next chapter.
Which brings me to my personal news. At the end of this month, I’m moving out of my apartment. Then I’ll set off on a solo road trip around the United States for the rest of 2020.
The first months of the year laid the seeds for my post-New York life. As my mental health improved, I sorted through my greatest dreams and how I could attain them. My visits to London for work had reignited my wanderlust. I started socking away money that would enable me to quit my job in June and travel the world for the rest of the year.
I really have to laugh.
You know what happened next. In March, I moved to Vegas to quarantine with my mom for three months. I got laid off. My plans were fucked. I purposefully laid very still for awhile. I read a lot, spent time with my mom, and collected myself after a year of huge losses.
When I returned to New York in early June, I felt a lot better, but stuck. The pandemic news kept getting worse. I told myself that maybe I’d just stay in New York through the fall, my favorite East Coast season, even though it couldn’t be more clear that it was time for me to leave.
Around this time I had a conversation with my cousin Adam, who also got laid off recently. He asked me what I would most want to do this year, if I could. “Travel Europe for six months and interview people I meet for Cruel Summer Book Club,” I told him. “But I obviously can’t do that because of x, y, and z…” I went on and on for another five minutes.
He stopped me. “I want you to notice that you told me what you most want in the world, then immediately spent double the time shitting on those things.” He was absolutely right—my yearning for comfort and familiarity was keeping me in a dead end situation. “What if you could still travel another way?” he asked. When he offered to let me borrow his car, my decision was made.
I’ll be on the road from September through December. I’ll do some city shopping; Seattle, Denver and Austin are on the list. And I want to visit National Parks, do a lot of camping and hiking, and witness as much beauty as possible. I feel a strong call to spend time alone this year. I want to show myself that I can do hard things and create joyful new experiences on my own. I hope to meet strangers along the way and tell their stories here. (For the record: Though I will be alone for much of this trip, I will be as safe as possible. I will practice social distance, wear a mask, get tested at appropriate times, and respect quarantines. I will be a responsible citizen of the world.)
July was the month I wrote off 2020—the pandemic won’t end any time soon, and the hopes I had for a return to normalcy are dead. And that’s okay. My life as I once knew it is over, but now I have the rare opportunity to build a new one. I don’t have a partner or a job, but I do have a borrowed car, some savings and my bravery. I may never be this free again! I’m going for it. I want this. I’m beyond ready to leave one of the hardest and saddest years of my life behind. So, I’m taking my unemployed ass on the road. Wish me luck.
What part of the country do I absolutely have to see on my road trip? Tell me in the comments.
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