Packing Up My Manhattan Apartment and Moving To Colombia
I was 22 years old and everyone around me thought I had it all. My friends called me the guy who always had his sh*t together. In many ways, this was true. I had always excelled academically and professionally. I was an avid planner and had literally been planning my life five years at a time since I was five years old.
I rejoiced when I graduated with honors from a mid-sized midwestern college. I was thrilled when I was offered an illustrious job at a large corporation. I couldn’t have been more pleased as I made the move to New York City.
At last, I finally found myself if the place where I thought I would be most happy. Or so I thought. Because even with everything that I thought I needed, somehow I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. I wasn’t doing anything exciting and I wasn’t living a life that I would look back and genuinely be proud of what I had accomplished.
Worst of all, it was my fault. I had been so consumed with the traditional path set for me that I never considered being selfish enough to do something that made sense only to me.
The decision to pack up my things and move to Colombia wasn’t an easy one. In fact, it was a series of huge life events that led to small decisions. Firstly, there was so much death in my family. A younger cousin committed suicide and my step-father’s dad passed away in a two week period.
I found myself seriously conflicted around the paradox of this situation. Namely, I needed to be with my family back in Tennessee but also I deeply felt how sensitive and temporary life is. So I spent a lot of time surrounded by my family. I had deep talks on the nature of life with my younger sister. I played video games with my younger brother and listened in awe as he told me how much professional gamers make. And I realized that life was too short to not spend it doing the things you want to do.
The first small decision was taking some time off to be with family. Then, it was spending more time writing. Then it was spending more time traveling. I went to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Memphis, Nashville, Albany, New Orleans, and Carbondale. It was only then did I have the courage to pursue a lifelong dream of mines. I would attempt Spanish fluency in a Spanish-speaking country.
Initially, I wanted to go to Mexico. I talked it over with my mom and she instantly vetoed the idea. Because of all the recent news coverage, she pleaded that I go somewhere with less notoriety. I explained to her that I would be fine but she wouldn’t budge. So collectively, after showing her videos and testimonials from expats, we settled on the city of Medellín, Colombia.
Within a few weeks, I was packed and ready to go. Conveniently my lease was expiring at the same time so I took what I could with me and put the rest in storage. I know this is just the beginning, but I can finally say I am living a life based on goals I have set for myself rather than those that have been set for me.
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DJ Jeffries is a self-proclaimed “intrapreneur” and entrepreneur with an obsession for challenging the status quo. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he’s been awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Fellowship, the University Innovation Fellowship (through Stanford University) and the Richard B. Fisher Fellowship (Morgan Stanley). He is the founder and editor of http://Led2win.com , an online motivation publication, the host of the Hacking Happiness podcast, and is currently an HR Innovation Analyst at Morgan Stanley.