Creating Your Life Without a Script


It was exactly two years ago that I returned from my six-month trip abroad. And I wasn’t sure what to do next. I went back home to Dallas to contemplate two options:

  1. Continue my international adventures and find a source of income overseas.
  2. Return to San Diego 

It was an ongoing debate in my head that took a few months to decide. On the surface it looked like a decision between the U.S. and another country, but it was more than that. It was between going back to pick up my old life, or taking a less conventional direction.

By nature, I’ve always loved change. I like to go new places, to try new things and to learn about people who are different from me. This is why travel appeals to me so much, and why part of me wanted to continue onward to a new life in a new country. I thought about teaching English in South Korea for a year, so I could save enough money to then continue somewhere else for another year. I even completed an online teaching certification just in case.

While my heart was telling me to continue my life of travel, my head was telling me I was nuts.

It wasn’t like I was in my twenties anymore and could just gallivant everywhere-I needed to settle down. I’ve been undecided on whether I wanted to get married and have kids, but I wasn’t getting any younger so if I wanted the option I needed to stay in one place. I was also worried about not knowing what would happen long term. What would I do for work in five years? After forgoing my 401K, what would I do about retirement? In the end I decided to be responsible, go back to San Diego, and take another advertising job.

At first, I was happy with my decision. I loved San Diego and was glad to be back. I had missed my friends and favorite spots. Small luxuries were nice -like the day my dresser was delivered and I could finally, after a year, unpack my suitcase into drawers. It was good to have a sense of familiarity and a stable paycheck again–but it didn’t take long until I was regretting my decision. Two months, to be exact.

Don’t get me wrong, overall I have a pretty good life and appreciate everything I have. I have good friends. I have my own apartment in a cool neighborhood. I have a stable job.  And for the most part I can pretty much buy what I want. I have an independent lifestyle with the freedom to do what I want. Sounds great, right?

The problem is, I feel like I don’t get to truly enjoy any of it. At what point did we loose the time to live and enjoy life?

I made the decision to stay here and “settle down” because I thought that is what I was supposed to do.

And why? We listen to the people around us and feel like we have to conform to what’s considered normal. But hey, I’m not saying that “normal” is a bad thing if that’s what you want. I know people who love their life with 2.5 kids in suburbs.  And that’s awesome. My point is, it’s also okay if that’s not what knocks your socks off.

Time flies by, so you have to make an effort to find what makes you happy, and then do it. Don’t talk about how “some day” you want to do ______________. Or complain about your life without taking ownership of it.

Everyone has the power to create the life they want for themselves. 

And after a momentary lapse in judgment, I’m doing that now.


8 Responses to Creating Your Life Without a Script

  1. Chris August 29, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Denise, I am going though such a similar dilemma and reading this post of yours has been incredibly inspiring. I find the decision to travel particularly difficult because I know so few like-minded people. It feels like everyone is trying to talk me out of this dream because they can’t relate to it. So thank you for posting your own struggle. It means a lot to see someone in the same boat who felt the same fears and conquered them.

    • Denise Diamond August 29, 2014 at 1:46 am #

      Hi Chris, first thank you for you nice comment, it means a lot that someone finds my words inspiring and that I can help. Know that you can choose to take any path that makes you happy. For both of my sabbaticals I planned about a year in advance and saved a solid amount of money to make myself feel comfortable. This gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t making any irrational decisions. And as for others, know that once you start traveling you will no longer feel like a minority. So many people are out here taking time out to travel. You won’t feel alone. Good luck to me and if you take the plunge, let me know!

  2. Ashley Hubbard November 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Love this! It sounds like we are both in the same position. Congratulations on realizing it’s okay to want something “abnomal.” :)

    • Denise Diamond November 14, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks Ashley! And Congratulations to you too!

  3. April October 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    I admire your courage and being true to yourself. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

    • Denise Diamond October 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Thank you so much April! And so happy to have you reading along!

  4. Mike October 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    You are brilliant and have courage very few possess!

    • Denise Diamond October 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Thank you Mike! I appreciate the continued support you always show for my endeavors! Sad you won’t be in Dallas when I come into town, but hopefully I’ll see your face at some point. I hope you are loving Chicago!

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