THE BLOG

This Is What It Looks Like to Give Up Everything

Oct 23, 2013 | Updated Jan 23, 2014

packing light

Photo courtesy of Allison Vesterfelt

This is my real couch.

The actual one. The one sitting in my living room (and by living room, I mean the small "not-the-kitchen, not-the-bedroom, not-the-bathroom" room where my husband and I eat food, read, play games and generally hang out). It hasn't been photoshopped, or even instagrammed.

This is it, folks. The real deal.

You might be wondering why on earth I'm showing you a picture of my couch. Here's why: It's because this is what it looks like to give up everything.

In 2010, I quit my full-time job, moved out of my apartment, and sold everything I owned, because I had the sudden revelation that if I wanted to become a writer -- really wanted it, like I said I did -- I needed to be willing to give up everything in order to get it. So I took the leap, and spent the next year of my life traveling around the country, keeping a blog called Packing Light, that would eventually turn into a book.

Now that I'm the other side that experience, and I'm "living my dream" full time, I realize there's a misconception about this life that I used to hold, but now is changing. I wonder if you might still hold this misconception. It goes like this:

Living your dreams is glamorous.

You can have everything.

It's so easy, with social media, or our blogs, for those of us who are chasing our dreams to pretend like it solves everything, like we're super heroes who have it all and own it all and can do it all, like our life is super awesome all the time. We take pictures of all the awesomeness, and then we share them with the world.

To be fair -- life is always full of awesome things, no matter your job title. I'm glad we take pictures of them.

I'm glad we see beauty and share it.

But there is one bummer about perpetuating the misconception that dream-chasing is glamorous. It makes people who aren't chasing their dreams think one of two things:

Chasing your dreams is not for everyone -- it's only for those with super human strength, or super human finances, or super human talents. (Which I know is not true because, well, I'm doing it).

Dreams just happen to people, to the lucky ones. (Which I know is also not true, because my dream has taken a ton of sacrifice, a ton of hard work. Life is about trade-offs).

So this is it. This is my life. My real life. My not-so-glamorous, worn around the edges, 50 bucks at a thrift store kind of life. This is the real life of a writer, or a start-up business owner, or a person chasing a dream God has put in his or her heart.

The other day a friend said to me, "I can't wait to come see your new place!"

And I'm sad to admit the first thought through my head was, "Oh, please don't come over. Please wait until we move into someplace bigger, or nicer, or at least with enough furniture to seat more than two people..." I wish I would have thought something more humble, or more inviting, but instead I thought that.

And it made me realize how, even after years of "Packing Light" I'm still expecting "stuff" to do something it was never intended to do. I'm waiting for a nicer couch, or a bigger kitchen, or two cars (so I don't have to share with my husband) to feel like I've really made it.

And I know what happens when I wait on stuff.

I wait my whole life for something that will never happen.

Not that I will always own this couch, but that someday I'll get a nicer one, and it won't give me what I thought it would.

I'm not waiting around anymore.

I'll be honest. I'm not confused about why we don't post stuff like this on Twitter, Facebook, or our blogs. I'm a little embarrassed to let you see the space (non-instagram version) where I'm living right now. It's humbling. But it's also real.

Maybe someday I'll have a beautiful sectional with soft, luxurious fabric where I can lounge and watch movies on a Saturday, or where we can invite friends to sit and share a cup of tea and conversation.

Or maybe I won't.

Either way, I'm not waiting around for a couch to start enjoying my life.

This is what it looks like to give up everything.

At least this is what it looks like for us.