This week Passion Passport is featuring the traveling duo behind Hair Ventures. In part one, a look at the inspiration behind Meg’s move from Ohio to China.
“I’m meant for more than this.”
I remember thinking that countless times throughout my Midwestern childhood. Not that I thought I was better than the people or the place I grew up in, not because I felt different or out of place, not even because I dreamed of becoming a famous actress or musician; I just merely thought I was meant for something different.
I wanted to be somewhere exciting and big. I wanted to travel the world and make people say wow. I didn’t know what I would do or how I would get there, I didn’t have some grand vision of myself taking the world by storm, I just pictured myself elsewhere.
“Then I got fired from my job and when I went to start my car to drive home my car wouldn’t start. It would never start again.”
In 2006, I graduated from university. That’s a tough period. You’re in this bubble of enchantment, thinking you’ll suddenly be an adult and life will just work out for you. But there I was with a degree in psychology, a degree that, to be honest, I hadn’t really worked hard for, and I had no interest in pursuing it further. I had no idea what I was going to do. No idea.
And so I found myself 22 years old and directionless in Columbus, Ohio, with a new pressed passport, wondering what to do next. I was lucky, I worked at a very busy restaurant and made more money than any of the entry-level jobs my friends were taking, and I was kicking around an idea about a trip to Greece and talking the big talk about world travels. But who knows if I would have ever done anything. Then I got fired from my job and when I went to start my car to drive home my car wouldn’t start. It would never start again.
That kicked off what my friend Stef and I now refer to as the “dark times”. I took an awful serving job in a place that I hated, my mom bailed me out and “sold” me her old car, I drank a bottle of red wine a night, then switched to white so I could drink two. I gained weight, I watched a lot of reality TV. I stopped dreaming, I started mopping, I saw no light at the end of the tunnel, the bubble had burst. I was an adult, and this is not what was promised to me in the American Dream I was sold.
Then a hand reached out to me. My friend Jason, seven years older than me, offered advice. I’d met when he was 23. He looked at me and said, “I’m going to tell you exactly what you told me seven years ago. ‘If you don’t like who you are, change yourself, do one thing a day, it’s that easy.'” The 16-year-old me was wise beyond my years, and green as hell, but those words had shaken Jason to radically change his life. Seven years later, my own wisdom inspired to me make changes and make my life exactly what I always wanted it to be.
You don’t have to be rich to travel the world. You don’t have to be brave to take a leap of faith. And you don’t have to be brilliant to make the world work for you. You just have to want it bad enough, be able to roll with the punches. Having just a bit of luck helps, too.
I’ve had more than my far share of luck. I get myself into unlikely situations, I don’t prepare or plan for the future, I take huge risks, but they’ve always paid off and like a cat I’ve always landed on my feet.
In 2007 I didn’t like who I was, I didn’t like where I was, and I didn’t know how to change it. So I took my own advice, I changed my screensaver to a taunting “What did you do today?” and I started doing things. I started small, a jog in the afternoon, an internet search on jobs abroad, a night without a bottle of wine, a piggy bank with a sealed bottom. Then I got bigger and more radical, and that’s when things started to take shape.
I kept telling people I was going to move abroad, that I was cool and hip and I was going to just do it. Eventually I told so many people that I had no choice, and that is the single most truthful line in this story. When people ask me what made me move abroad, if I answer truthfully, I have to say pride. I had told too many people that I was going to do it, and talked too big. I would have been to embarrassed to not do it.
One of my best friends from university was teaching English abroad that year, and he was having a great time, so I figured ‘why not?’ I searched the Internet, found a job in China, applied, spoke on the phone to someone who barely spoke English, and on my 23rd birthday I bought a one way plane ticket to Shanghai (my one thing was a big thing that day). I packed a suitcase and a backpack. I brought my dog and $1,000. And that is how this whole thing started. A spoonful of pushing, a heaping of pride, and I was on my way.
What happened when Meg reached China? Passion Passport will share part two tomorrow. You can also follow their travels at www.hairventures.com or via Instagram @hairventures. Have you embarked on a transformative journey? Are you planning one? Tell us on social media, using the #YourJourneyAwaits.