“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”
― Jim Carrey
Someone recently sent me a DM on Instagram asking, "Did Expedition 196 make you feel fulfilled?". Up until that point, I'd never been asked such a question. However, I knew the answer long before that person had even asked it. My personal definition of fulfillment I guarantee you differs from any other person you'll ask, but since my head is running in all different sorts of directions, let's start with the actual definition of the word.
1.the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted."winning the championship was the fulfillment of a childhood dream"
2.the meeting of a requirement or condition."the fulfillment of statutory requirements"
If we're talking about simply achieving something desired or predicted, then yes, Expedition 196 did fulfill my desires, but only for a brief moment in time. I achieved what I had set my mind out to achieve, but it did not bring my "childhood dream" to life, because it wasn't a childhood dream of mine. Expedition 196 was to be a stepping stone to my childhood dream, which, if I'm going to be vulnerable with you, was to have my own show on the Travel Channel as a "Travel Expert". My original dream was to be a storm chaser and Meteorologist, changing the world somehow and making big discoveries. But when I failed Meteorology, Oceanography, Statistics and Geology in college, I became really deterred from a career path in Meteorology, and it really bummed me out. Then I figured I'd do something with Personal Training in the meantime, since I'd always loved the thought of becoming a Body Builder. Alas, I failed my PT math section of my test 3 times and at the time, couldn't afford tutoring to get through it. It was at that point that I began reminiscing back to my childhood days, watching Samatha Brown on Travel Channel and wishing I would have a career like hers, while also creating meaningful change in our world (because let's be honest, doesn't every kid?). I dropped out of college a semester short of graduating and saved up $2,000 from Lifeguarding. My plan was to begin my "real life" university and gain worldly experience to then pursue the last career dream I had in mine, which was having my own show on the Travel Channel. I'd only traveled to Canada, Costa Rica and Nicaragua by the age of 21. In August, I took off and would spend the next 2 years traveling to roughly 25 countries and living in 9 of them. I started my own "business" called "Geo Hospitality" complete with a website that I poured any extra money I had earned into in order to be professionally developed, I created business cards, and carried a manilla folder to luxury boutique hotels. My mission was to prove to them that I could help them optimize revenues through energy efficiency measures and in exchange they'd give me room and board. You know by now that my math skills are horrendous, but thanks to Google, I was able to scrape by when it came to writing up cost-benefit analysis in order for the Management of these hotels to take my work seriously. While my backpack was back at the hostel, I would walk into the hotel with a folder and my laptop, looking professional as any backpacker could attempt to look. I would throw on a fancy scarf I bought from an outdoor market in San Francisco, and slip into my ballet flats in order to look somewhat presentable and believable. At the age of 21, I traveled the world and began to build my resumé as a Sustainability Consultant in order to gain experience as an eventual, Travel Expert, like my role model, Samantha Brown. My thought was by starting at the age of 21 and then traveling to every country, by the age of 30, I'd have my own show and feel fulfilled in my career.
Unfortunately, even traveling to every country in the world and making life sacrifices, risking my life in order to get to that point, doesn't work. Had the show been a result of my hard work and sacrifices, I would feel fulfilled from the Expedition. My early days of travel before the Expedition were days that allowed me the creative freedom and opportunity to explore the world and be nomadic. Expedition 196 was a career move and involved major investment and starting a real LLC this time. It was the most difficult, emotionally and physically taxing thing I'd ever done in my life, but having that end goal in sight was what kept me going. Now that's it's over and without having reached my career goal, it's left a significant void in my life's pursuit. I'm sharing this with you because I know many of you are interested in my true thoughts regarding the above question, and I'm not going to sugar coat how I truly feel about my accomplishments or lack thereof. I have other plans and projects that I'm working on that will enable me to continue this career path of creative freedom and travel, but I fell short of my lifetime goal, and it sucks. In order to understand this in better context, I want you to understand that most people have career goals and even if they fall short, they become "OK" with it because the greater goal as they roll into their 30's and 40's is to get married and have kids, or depend on a spouse for support or money. That's not a goal of mine. This career of mine is the most important aspect of my life and since I have no interest in getting married or having kids, my focus is 100% on this.
Hopefully, eventually this Expedition will make me feel fulfilled, but until then, that's all I've got for you.