I strive to always be transparent with people because I want to be authentic. I want to be genuine. I don't want my social media platforms to be a highlight reel of my life... I want my social media platforms to be real.
So let's get real. Over the last month, I have been struggling. The glamorous mountain landscapes I post on Instagram & Facebook are sometimes just a healthy distraction from what's actually going on in my heart. Sometimes those landscapes mend my soul & sometimes they only deepen the wound. My solace is always found in a forest or on a mountain summit, but I admit there have been times when I spent hours wandering a trail mindlessly, feeling nothing, just to reach a hard-earned summit & weep. The pain doesn't always pass, but the lightness of the tears does seem to release the heaviest of burdens.
I think this time around, the weight felt so heavy because I had to choose which priority was more important -- a person, or the unknown future pursuing a dream. One of my favorite photographers, Chris Burkard (IG: @ChrisBurkard), once wrote about how his relationships have suffered or ended altogether because of his order of life priorities. His words resonated heavily to me, as I had been battling my own priorities. Not wanting to lose an important person, but not wanting to give up on my dream to have that person. I've decided that timing is everything. No matter how seemingly perfect the relationship, no matter how destined your introduction to each other, if you're in different places in life, if your priorities don't match up, & if the timing doesn't align, then you have to let it go.
Travel is my priority, not a relationship, even though I want to have both. I hadn't learn this yet when I met a man in August, on an airplane of all places. I felt like I was finally catching up to destiny & the stars were finally aligning. As if every single event in my life was coming together in harmony & making perfect sense... and then reality came crashing down & the battle of priorities became tumultuous. He didn't know if he should invest in something that was just going to leave for a year to live in a car & travel. I didn't know that I should invest in something that wasn't certain I would be worth the distance.
I played this game before, two years ago, when I tried hanging on to a relationship as I was planning my move to Colorado. We had been seeing each for the two months leading up to my move, but he didn't want to make things official since I was leaving the state anyway. I told him I wouldn't move to Colorado, that I could stay in Indiana to make the relationship work -- & he told me no. He told me that I wasn't allowed to change my plans. That I wasn't allowed to give up on a dream, all for the sake of a relationship. In my mind, he would be worth staying in Indiana. In my mind, if he wouldn't let me stay, then we could make the distance work. What I didn't know then was that my real priority was to start over somewhere new, but I let the promise of a relationship muddle my vision. We held on to each other for a short time after I moved across the country, but grasping our loose ends with a fervent grip only served to wound me in the end. If I had only let go sooner, maybe the experience would have been less painful.
That season of life prepared me for this season, when I was faced with the decision to let go or hang tight to someone whose timing & priorities weren't aligning with mine. I decided to let go of, & set free, the boy on the airplane. When I cut out the emotions & looked instead at our varying priorities & timing in our lives, the right decision became more clear. We wanted different things, our lives were going different directions, & you know what? That is okay, there is no shame in that -- there is power in admitting that & saying it out loud.
I began feeling really guilty when the job opportunity with SkyWest presented itself a mere three weeks after terminating our "relationship". I began wrestling with my priorities again, judging myself for choosing a job over my dream of a year long trip in my car. For choosing a job over a person who I cherished. My priorities felt like they were shifting, because now a job was more important than my roadtrip, & my roadtrip was more important than him. Choosing to work for the airline felt as if I was killing my dreams & breaking hearts.
So, I took another long walk, wandering aimlessly down another trail, alone with my thoughts. I had many revelations on the trail that day in November. Here's what was revealed to me & what released me from my guilt:
1. My priority has always been to travel. Do I still want to live in my car & travel the country? Absolutely. Will I? Absolutely. SkyWest provides me the opportunity to travel around my own country, in addition to every other country, more efficiently & more cost-effectively. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, & I want to be rich in experiences. I want to meet the locals in my own backyard & across the globe. I want to try all of the food. I want to get lost in a country where I can't even translate that I'm lost & need directions. I'm in love with new places, new faces. I'm a vagabond, fully confident that I may never be able to call any one, single place "home" for more than six months.
2. From the moment I stepped foot in Terminal C for the SkyWest interview, I knew that was where I belonged. I didn't have to fight the company to change their priorities, vision, or mission -- their priorities, vision, & mission aligned perfectly with mine. They believe in the power of people: their employees & their customers. I had that sixth-sense feeling after my interview that something magical was going to happen. That feeling of excitement, wanderlust, & endless possibilities consumed me. When I was offered the job, you couldn't wipe the dumb-smile off of my face. I was (& I still am) completely ecstatic about this job. I still feel like I am on a cloud. The training has been rigorous & it's only going to get more difficult, but I really am so proud of myself & the journey that led me here.
3. If I had any bad feeling about accepting the job, I wouldn't have accepted their offer. Sometimes decisions just "feel" right. I could see an extra spark in my eyes after the interview. I gushed to everyone at work that afternoon about how amazing the company is & how honored I would be to work for them. I have learned to listen to my heart, allowing it to lead me in life. I am fully confident that the decision to work for SkyWest was the right choice, because my heart was telling me, "Yes," & I should never have to feel guilty about following my sixth sense.
4. Megan, I love ya, girlfriend. But get real, you will be spending all of your free time traveling. That's not exactly conducive to a relationship, much like traveling with Chuck across the country wouldn't have been conducive to a relationship either. When I have time off, I want to be in line at an airport to board a plane, not going out on a date with my boyfriend or staying at home to watch movies. An entire world is living & breathing, I don't want to just exist in it. I have a personal obligation to breath in sync with the rhythms of the world.
5. I didn't choose a plane, over a car, over a boy. I chose my ultimate happiness. This goes back to point number one. Travel is my priority & I can't accomplish that wholeheartedly if I have a relationship on the back-burner. I don't want to feel guilt every time I choose to fly to a new city or country instead of spending time with my boyfriend. I don't want to hurt anyone or make promises that I can't keep. I'm not going to string someone along, nor do I want to be the person that is strung along. Either you can handle my love for the sky & the road, or you can't -- & if you can't, then I won't invest my heart in you. That's not to be mean, it's to be realistic & honest.
Once I came to realize & understand the priorities for my life, that weight of guilt began to lessen. I finally have peace & relief about the decisions I've made over the last two months. People always say that love requires compromise, but love should never require the compromise of your personal goals & dreams. I don't worry anymore about what tomorrow may hold. I don't worry anymore about whether or not I'll ever find my penguin. Because I have found complete happiness in discovering this incredible world that God created. Because I have found completeness in myself, rooted in the soil of new discoveries & experiences.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.