A Quarter Life Crisis: How Passport & Plates Came to Be

Every blog has its story. For some, it’s a documentation of their lifestyle or hobby. For others, it’s a way for family members to keep up with their lives, especially if they’re living far away or traveling. For me, the story is a little more complicated, and involves what might be described as a quarter life crisis. 

Passport & Plates is not my first blog. My original blog was a somewhat embarrassing Tumblr that I created at the beginning of college for my wayward thoughts. The second was an amateur travel blog, created when I studied abroad. Neither were ever really meant for public consumption.

So what made me start a “real” blog? Well…

It all started in November of 2012. I had just graduated that summer and after months of traveling, returned home only to find myself longing to be on the road again. I just kept telling myself over and over that it was time to grow up and find a full-time job. And it worked…for awhile.

Those months of funemployment were productive, to say the least. Besides aggressively job-hunting, I researched digital nomads: people who make a living by earning money through online jobs, websites, blogs, etc., all while being location-independent.

That idea never really left my head, despite my best efforts to squash it. I told myself that I needed to get a 9 to 5 job, because what skills did I possibly have that would allow me to live this life? Needless to say, I secured a “normal” job and spent the next 2.5 years feeling like I was wasting my time in a job that not only wasn’t for me, but was also making me miserable.

Two of those years were spent in quarter-life crisis mode. If you’re a millennial, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then let me break it down simply. It’s all the symptoms associated with thinking things like “I’m supposed to be an adult, but I don’t feel like one, especially because I have NO idea what I want to do with my life.” It was terrible. I read inspirational books, made pro-con charts, and spent endless hours seeking advice from my friends and family.

After two long years of back and forth debate, emotional breakdowns, and attempts at convincing myself to be logical, I finally decided to leave my job.

“You are an unfinished work in progress. One of the good things about life’s challenges: you get to find out that you’re capable of being far more than you ever thought possible.” ― Karen Salmonsohn

This was neither an easy decision, nor one without consequence. As a chronic worry wart with an ambitious “never quit” attitude, I have to admit that I was TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.

I was scared to death of the unknown. A little excited too, but mostly scared. But it dawned on me that staying at my job was even scarier. Because complacency in life is what I fear the most. The fear that I would wake up in ten years and wonder where my life had gone and why I hadn’t chased my dreams was what propelled me to move forward. I’m fully aware of how I fortunate I am. Very few people have the luxury to choose to leave a job or to make these big decisions based off their feelings. I left because I am fortunate enough to be able to, and because I do have this privilege – and I put a lot of faith in the universe when I did it.

 “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way, you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Before making this decision, I thought long and hard (because it’s me and that’s what I do) and I asked myself a lot of questions. What do I want in a job? Where do I want to live? What do I want to do?

I have the answers and I don’t. I want that somewhat mythical work-life balance, I want to live in Europe, and I want a job where I’m having some sort of impact. Sometimes, I’m such a cliché millennial that it kills me. Especially because the first thing I did when I quit was to plan a trip to Europe.

I’d always been a little obsessed with Andalusia, so I knew it had to be part of the itinerary. After a lot of planning and research, I ended up deciding to spend a month in Spain and a couple of weeks split between Amsterdam, London, and Lisbon. I’d been toying with the idea of starting a proper blog for some time, and figured this would be the perfect opportunity. Not only was I in a particularly ambiguous period in my life, but I also had a lot more free time. If I wasn’t able to use the blog as an additional source of income, then at least I’d be able to showcase my writing skills (HA!) and have a side project that I actually cared about.

It’s now nearing the end of November. I guess I’m no longer in a quarter-life crisis, however you define it. I spent many months soul searching (and you know, crying and all that fun stuff), and I finally have some clear goals in mind. The 2016 plan is twofold: to move to Spain and to continue blogging. As for the rest of the arbitrary things I’m supposed to get done by the time I’m 30…well, let’s just take this one step at a time.

I am fortunate enough to be an EU and American citizen, so at least the “hard part” is out of the way. Now just to find either a remote job as a digital nomad or a job in a struggling Spanish economy. Right. That has been an adventure in and of itself, but I’m working on it. What’s life without some goals anyway?

So there you have it. The extremely long and detailed story of how Passport & Plates came to be. The funny thing in all of this is that I’ve actually become the resident expert amongst all my friends that are thinking about quitting their jobs. Definitely not a skill I’ll be adding to my resume, though. Maybe I’ll reword it as “listener and advice-giver” instead.

 

What about you? Have you ever suffered a quarter life crisis? What advice would you offer to your 25-year-old self?

 

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  • Great blog! Lot’s I can relate with here. Sacrifices are definitely required to find the type of life that is more fulfilling to you, and chances are, some sort of 9-5 isn’t it. More and more people are realizing the 40-40-40 scam (working 40 hours per week, for 40 years, and retiring on 40% of what they made) is no way to live. Maybe your blog can be a springboard to something better, maybe not, but being willing to try that (or moving across the world to work) will surely put you further ahead then most on the path to living a more inspired life! Best of luck, keep it up!

    • Sally Elbassir

      Thanks for the kind words Tyler! I agree with you that 40/40/40 is a scam. I know I want a stable job for now, especially when I’m starting out. But who knows what the future will bring? All I know is that I have to give my dreams a fair shot or else I’ll regret never trying. And I’m glad to see others doing the same! 🙂

  • Seyi Famuyiwa

    awwwww sally!! so happy for you girlie!! when I saw you started the blog I was stoked!!! good to see that you’re enjoying yourself with this! 🙂

    • Thanks Seyi for the support (before and now)!! 🙂 It’s more difficult than I thought but I’m LOVING it! Hope all is well! <3

  • I definitely spent the last 2 years going through a quarter-life crisis! I understand exactly how you felt, and I too started a blog. Now I’m living in Thailand and it’s so nice to feel like I’m actually doing something with my life other than just working a job I hated in Canada! Keep up the good work girl, you’ve got an awesome blog.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Taylor! I’m glad you’re liking my blog, and it’s great to hear I’m not the only one that struggled with the quarter-life crisis! I’m loving your Thailand posts – some of your southeast experiences are so similar to my struggles from when I spent a summer working in Indonesia haha. How are you liking it so far?

      • It’s definitely different! But that’s what I wanted, so I’m enjoying it so far! The hardest part is being in a small city where few people speak English are there are little to no foreigners haha, but it is nice to try something new.

        • I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I definitely remember the challenge of not speaking the local language but give it some time and you’ll pick up some Thai in no time! I always find that the struggle is never easy but the result is always satisfying 🙂

  • Andra Tomescu

    Totally understand you! Been through the crisis myself, started around 24 and hopefully ended in my 26 years old last year. 2 and a half years of soul searching, frustrations, not finding my place in the world, not being satisfied with my life, work, friends, of crying/laughing/crying/laughing all over again. I wouldn’t trade this period for anything…it was really tough sometimes but now I know better what I want. Plus, I finally started sharing my crazy ideas also in writing on my own blog (1st in my case), so 2015 seems to be the year for launching personal websites 😀

    • Apparently it’s pretty common amongst our generation! It’s terrible when it’s happening but at the end you emerge happier. I definitely still have my moments of uncertainty but it’s so much better when you have a goal in mind! That’s great that you have a blog! It’s great having a place where you can channel your thoughts and ideas 🙂

  • Travel Hund

    Oh boy I agree. Especially on staying at a job being scarier than going out and risking living your dreams! It’s definitely hard and I haven’t quite mastered the financial aspect of it, but in a way, we are all in this together – those that dare to be different and challenge the traditional ways may have to struggle, but I think we’ll all come out better in the end!
    Cheers and keep up the good work,
    Elena

    • Definitely! That’s how I was feeling…like if I didn’t chase my dreams, I was going to somehow implode. It’s a huge challenge – financially probably the most so, but I’m confident we can do it! The harder we work, the luckier we’ll get. And in the end, we get to work towards chasing our dreams – and that’s the most rewarding challenge of all :). Keep on hustling! <3

  • Oh boy what a great story! I feel like we are on the same boat. Where in Spain have you moved to for the mean time?

    • Hopefully you’re channeling “crisis” is going in a good direction :). I didn’t end up moving permanently but am spending the summer in Valencia at the moment. Hopefully by the beginning of the next year…still can’t decide which city though! They’re all so great!

  • Natalie McKee

    Currently in this EXACT phase. My husband and I picked up and moved to St. Andrews, Scotland and I gave up real work to become a full-time freelancer and blogger. It’s pretty terrifying because the pay isn’t certain, but I’m also super excited because I think it means I can finally chase my writing and travelling dreams. It might seem kind of foolish, but hey — we are still young!! Woot 🙂 It’s encouraging to read your story!

    • It’s somewhat scary but what’s life without a little risk, right? Chasing your dreams is the best thing you can do – if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back “home” knowing that you tried! That’s great that you and your husband are in it together! Best of luck – I’m sure great things are in store!

  • Lydia Pflieger

    Current fighting a quarter-life crisis, so working hard on my blog (littlewanderess.com) and bugging the husband to pack up and move to London (one can dream.) I’m working towards becoming a full-time freelancer and blogger, but I need skills first! 🙂 Thank you for your inspiring post!

    • Loving the look of your blog! 🙂
      You definitely have skills that you probably just don’t think of as skills yet but I’m sure you do! Try poking around on Upwork to see what sort of freelance projects you can do. I’m sure you’ll be on your way to freelance life in no time. Good luck on your journey 🙂