We like to think in cumulative terms. Imagining all that we’ll do in the future without ever considering all we’ll need to give up in order to get there.
I’ve traveled to foreign lands, lived in a van, settled in a tiny home on wheels, criss-crossed North America, piled up money in the bank, just barely gotten by, traveled indefinitely, rooted down permanently.
And what I’ve learned through all of this is that there are always trade-offs. Constant, necessary compromises.
In order to tour the country in an old van, I gathered up my broken heart, sold everything I owned and completely left behind the old life. The van was traded for a tiny home. Before all that time and freedom were traded for money and security. And even before that I committed to life with a furry friend, willingly foregoing extended bouts of overseas travel. Later I once again uprooted life and downsized, loading up my best friend, living out of a tent and exploring North America on a motorcycle. While on the road, I gave up moments with friends back home, security, warmth and often a good nights sleep. But I’d decided those trade offs were worth it.
Truthfully, I sometimes miss the comfort of the old days. The ability to spend money willy-nilly, the relief of simply doing what I was told, of routine and consistency. On the flip side, I value being able to make my schedule, work on projects I deeply care about and change course as I see fit. It’s not that one is better than the other, simply that I’d intentionally decided the compromises in the latter path were worth it to me.
I remind myself of this when I wish I had someone elses life. When I find myself endlessly scrolling through Instagram imagining all the ways he’s more fortunate than me, she more adventurous. I remind myself there are unseen compromises behind those images.
Anything is possible. We can have whatever we want in life. But it comes at a cost.
You can have it all. Just usually not all at once.