About the Author: Amy Lees. Amy is a dream chaser and believes in living a life untethered by others’ expectations. For too long, she catered to her family’s and friend’s wishes before her own. After realizing she was on a path of self destruction and unhappiness, she made the promise to herself to change. Moving forward, she decided to live her life according to her own desires and ambitions. So she spent 2018 on a self-discovery journey traveling the country with the intent to conquer a few of her biggest fears: heights, the unknown, and being alone. You can find her on Instagram @amy__lees (two underscores).
We are grateful for family, jobs, and decent health but that sometimes doesn’t feel like enough; that’s the bar of expectation. We do what everybody else is doing to live another day and support our loved ones. Those of us who feel a genuine lack of fulfillment in our years are not wrong. We are not ungrateful. We do not lack passion or enthusiasm. We are not lazy. We lack clarity. We lack self-awareness. We lack direction. We lack the confidence to try what peaks our interest because we are told from a young age that outsiders are bad and fitting in is good. We are taught to follow order.
Mt. Ranier National Park
Left: somewhere in Washington State. Right: Sunrise at Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park
I am in control of my life. If I am unhappy, that is my fault and mine alone. I am my own responsibility.
I had too many conversations with people wiser in years than myself who were so full of regret and wishes that they had done more, seen more, traveled more, experienced more when they were younger. So I decided not to be tied down by the chains of expectation. I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to live a life I could be proud of. I wanted to look back at the end of each year to see the growth I progressed through and take pride in the goals I accomplished on my own terms.
Sequoia National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
By the time I checked off the last few parks on my list, I truly felt fulfilled, accomplished, and proud of the decision to make such a bizarre idea come to fruition. My future was now a clean slate and an open book, ready to be scribbled on with bad doodles, poor grammar, and different colors because the year behind me taught me to own my own mess. It taught me that it’s okay to be where you are and to actually love yourself for all of the uncertainties. I no longer believe that being an adult means having life figured out. To me, life is a continuous journey of “figuring it out”. I am constantly changing and shaping the human I am daily. I may feel lost at times but that’s okay because it means I get to put myself in a position to learn more about who I am and who I want to become.
I am proud of the woman I am today and the choices I will continue to make to grow into the woman I want to be. 2018 was the year I learned that not all who wander are lost, but some are; for those who are, getting lost is one of the best ways to be found.
(Looking for a guide to all the national parks? Try this one.)
I want to ask Amy what she did to pay for food while she was out traveling? It sounded like she didn’t have much support from friends and family. So I’m just wondering how she put gas in the car and food in her belly. I love that she just overcame her fears one day at a time… moment by moment!!!
Love your story! Thanks for sharing! Going on similar inner journeys myself 🙂
I love love LOVED reading this!! What an inspiring journey for you to take! I have some questions to ask you if you are interested in replying.
1. How did you pay for everything in your year abroad?
2. Who took these photos?? They are amazing!
3. Did you journal or blog about your year abroad? If so, I would be interested in reading it!
4. What are you doing now with your life? Was it hard to come home after such an incredible journey?
Thanks for your words!