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This is an edited excerpt from a journal entry I wrote one month ago.
Good morning from New York (state). Today marks four months of traveling across the country. It’s been 124 days of living in an RV and traveling. Wild to think we’ve been on the road for that long.
I’m reading Chris Guilleabeau’s new book The Happiness of Pursuit and it struck a pain point with me this morning. Chris talked about the difference between a quest and an attempt to publicize your journey via a book, documentary, etc. He says the difference is that a quest is personal and uncertain, an attempt to learn. The other is more of a career move.
I struggle with this because we have a sponsor for our project and it is their intent to get us on national TV, and other forms of media in order to get their name out there. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s the same reason why pro athletes like Travis Pastrana have Red Bull sponsorships and LeBron James endorses McDonalds, it helps to pay the bills and everyone is happy.
But sometimes I’ve had a hard time with this because when I left on this quest I really did want it to be a personal quest, I just didn’t know if I would be able to fund it on my own. I’m sure learning how to completely fund our trip would have been part of the journey (and still is), but I decided that I would rather accept an offer to attach myself to a sponsor and have an income for my new marriage.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but then again it still took a lot of courage to go on this trip because they were only covering a portion of our expenses. We were still traveling in an unknown form of transportation, and I was still a newlywed. Being able to overcome financial troubles, RV troubles, and relational troubles has all been a part of a greater quest. The part of getting the jobs was easy, less risky, and less authentic (if anything). The rest was real. Me. Alyssa. Life on the road. Dealing with the problems of travel and financing a journey. All of it was real. But I did struggle at times with not wanting to be seen as a sell out because I had a company sponsor my journey.
I don’t regret taking the sponsorship, because it did what I wanted it to do. It gave me a chance to pursue an unconventional life. It gave me a taste of travel I had never known. It provided me with confidence that I could pursue a different kind of life. I could be a person who took action.
In the past I’ve also struggled with following through on projects. Having a sponsor gave me accountability not to quit and to keep a firm schedule. If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I had developed the self discipline to do this on my own. Maybe now, but it’s all hypothetical.
The point is, I would do it all over again. There’s a chance our journey might seem cooler if we didn’t have a sponsor, maybe, but the important part is that we actually took the risk to go on this trip. If we had never said “go,” then none of this would matter. There would had been no offer, there would be no Hourly America, there would be no Franklin the RV.
Did I set out on this journey to become famous? Yes, a little I did. But morals can change. I had an obsession with wanting people to know my name, but when things get really hard and the crap hits the fan, wanting to be famous isn’t a good enough of a reason to keep going. I learned this the hard way. It takes motivation deeper than something so surface level. It becomes more about finishing what you started. It becomes about seeing how far you’ve come, how much you’ve risked for the sake of a goal, and not wanting to go back to living a normal life.
A taste of freedom and doing this life differently around people who think differently, was just the push I needed to shift my thoughts from fame to getting to work and not caring what people thought of me. A lot of people start authentic journeys to discover who they want to be. I started a journey simply wanting to go on a journey, so I could learn something about life and taking risks, teach others, and then be famous and make money. I think if I’m being honest with myself, I could really admit that.
However, after it didn’t happen like I thought, I had to find a deeper meaning. I had to figure out the reason why I was on this trip, the reason why I would be willing to sleep in parking lots and live out of an RV. I should have known the why all along, but I didn’t. I had to either figure one out or quit half way through South Dakota.
So I quit allowing myself to think about fame, and instead started to think about progress, becoming a better husband, and making a real difference.
It’s funny because that’s when people started noticing me, but at that point I just didn’t care anymore.
I had found a bigger purpose.
Hey there, it’s Heath writing again, except it’s one month later now. I didn’t plan on sharing the excerpt above as a blog, but after reading over it again I think it would good to let you know what I’ve felt in parts of this journey. Maybe the reason why I didn’t share it before was because I was scared what people would think.
At the end of the day I acknowledge there is a great chance that any work I do could be a huge failure. With that in mind, the only real thing that matters to me in my work is:
Was I honest?
Was I vulnerable?
Was I helpful to someone who might be struggling with similar problems?
These are my requirements for work I can stamp my approval on. Does my work always have these ingredients? I hope so. I try really hard to write every blog post this way.
Sharing your fears and shortcomings is the best way I know to encourage other people that you are not alone, and everything is going to be okay. So, today I shared some of my shortcomings and fears with you. I had an idol with being famous. I don’t anymore.
What is something you struggle with? Would you mind sharing it in the comments below? Who knows, maybe by sharing it on here you can encourage the next person who reads this. It’s scary, I know. But it’s worth it if it helps someone else.