What Are You Waiting For?
“Think of your life like a straight line from ‘B’ to ‘D,’ ” explained my wise friend Nick Kuhn over a steak dinner
I shared with him and his wife, Lynn. “The day you were born is the ‘B,’ and the day you die is ‘D.’ Each day you inch just a little closer to the ‘D’ side. So you have to consider, ‘How am I going to use the time I have left?’ ”
There. Right there, I decided I needed to stop making excuses and start making moves. A month later,
I went home to visit my parents after some soul-searching on a solo trip to Costa Rica. Dad helped me select insurance on healthcare.gov. And one week beyond that, I quit my “safe” job at a corporation I had called home for 10 years, dating back to college.
It certainly wasn’t an easy or quick decision—or one made without shedding many tears—but I had been on the fence for several months. I adored so many aspects of my job: the people, the creativity, the topic area (how lucky to get paid to talk about food all day!). But there had been a nagging ambition for the past couple of years to turn my “side hustles,” including freelance writing, food brand marketing and culinary classes, into my main hustle.
Few people asked me “what are you waiting for?” besides, well, me. I had a job many college students only dreamed about. The building and its people made me feel at home. But still, something tugged at me internally that I’d regret not taking the leap and seeing what I could accomplish as the captain of my own ship. For the past five years or so, my answer to myself was: “I’ll give full-time freelance life a shot after I get married. Then I’ll have a safety net of sorts with my partner’s insurance and income.”
Yet at 31 and 133 days (yes, I went back to my calendar and checked), Nick dropped an honesty bomb that unearthed what I had been burying in a pile of excuses.
“You’re not getting any younger, Karla,” I told myself.
You didn’t wait on anyone to move to New York City just out of college. You didn’t wait for someone else to buy that Beaverdale brick house and fix it up from top to bottom. And you don’t wait on anyone else to travel the world with. So why are you waiting for that armor-clad knight now, of all times? This is your career. Make it what you want while you have your pre-D days.
So on Jan. 1, 2019, I asked the universe to catch me trust-fall-style. Almost a year in, every day certainly hasn’t been easy, but every day has felt right. I’ve never worked harder, yet I’ve never felt more fulfilled. More like myself.
This realization made me notice that we, as a society, have so many I’ll-do-this-when moments. Perhaps one of these sounds familiar?
• I’ll wear that outfit when I lose 10 pounds.
• I’ll take that certification exam when my kids get through this busy period.
• I’ll tell him what he means to me when …
• I’ll ask for a raise when …
There’s no need to rush through life making quick decisions and taking unnecessary risks. But there is a need to make the most of our time on this earth. So I’m challenging myself and I’m challenging you to consider one of life’s most persistent and crucial questions, one posed by the poet Mary Oliver in her 1992 poem “The Summer Day”: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Karla Walsh is a freelance writer and restaurant brand manager who recently decided she’ll climb Machu Picchu when…well, right around the time this issue comes out. See how she fares on Instagram @karlaswalsh or contact her about your big lofty dreams at firstname.lastname@example.org.