I’m sorry, mom, but I only have one life.

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December 28, 2017

My tears were going back but I fought back. I felt a giant ball in my throat as I looked my mother’s tearful eyes. She choked and told me,“Please, please be careful.” It was hard to see her at that last moment at the airport because that moment of truth slapped across my mother’s face:

I am leaving.

[Image description: A photo of a woman walking away, from the camera, in a white hat and was disappearing into the sunset in a vast dry field.]

9 months earlier.

After putting my loved ones through a traumatic experience, a lot of things have been reprioritized in my life. I wanted to drop graduate school and just travel but held myself back because I only had 2 semesters left until I earn my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Although it was an exhausting program, I was looking forward to a new goal: traveling long-term.

But how would I explain this to my family, especially my mother? I just put them through hell, so how would they take this? My family even freak out at the thought when I was camping at local areas, such as Joshua Tree National Park or even San Francisco. I promised them that I’ll let them know where I’ll be at and even send them specific information, such as the license plate of the car rental. If that what makes them feel relieved, so be it. I can’t blame them after what I put them through. The incident also even affected my good friends and their family. “Stacey, because of you, now my parents are acting up!” they teased.

I took a deep breath and I told my mother, “Ma, at the end of the year, I’m going backpacking for a long time. It will be longer than 2 months. Maybe 6 months, a year, I don’t know but I’m not kidding.” I added “I’m not kidding” because I knew it wouldn’t seem realistic to my family. She looked at me, “okay, hija” but I was right, she and my family didn’t really believe that I would travel more than 2 months.

By the time October arrived, I bought a flight ticket to Indonesia. It was surreal because that is where I would begin my first long journey. “Ma, I bought the ticket!” I told her in a nervous but excited tone. She paused her conversation on the phone, covering her phone so my aunt wouldn’t hear, “we’ll talk about it later, okay?” I was a little worried about the conversation with my family, especially my mother but I know that this is only natural for my family to be worried.

“What about your family? What about your brother?”

I sighed. I assured her that I know family comes first but it was also time for me to live my own life.  It can be quite challenging because the norm of our Mexican culture is to put our family first before anything. I felt it was quite selfish of me for putting travel first than my family. As much I know that isn’t really the case, my heart couldn’t help but ache at the thought of, not only my mother’s but my family’s sadness. My father felt I was running away from reality, and my brother believed that I need more time to rest at home after graduation. And they were right about few things, but I didn’t want to cancel or postpone my flight date. “Ma, I know. You, dad and my brother are all important to me. But I’m sorry, ma, but

Una vida, ma. Solo tengo una vida.” 

(“One life, mom. I only have one life.”)

I read the expressions on my mother’s face. She muttered something in Spanish but I couldn’t catch it on her lips. She looked worried as she furrowed her eyebrows, exhibiting fears that her Deaf daughter is traveling around the world. But there was something else on her face: she understood. She looked down sideways, frowning and holding her hands together.

She understood.

For the next couple weeks, as the date was drawing closer, there were frequent battles between cultural morals of “family comes first” to “I need to live my own life.” My mind was scattered with “what if?”: What if my brother needed me? What if something happens to my aging parents? What if something happen to my dogs? What if it would be my last time of seeing them?

STOP. I knew that this is not only about my cultural value, but it is my own personal problem: always considering others’ need first before my own.

I’ve grown up that way, but I knew that if I continue this habit and didn’t try to reach my goals and dreams, I’ll only become bitter. A bitter old lady who would often reflect back on her life and become antsy. And I don’t want to be that bitter old lady. Although I felt anxious and worried about my family, I knew what I need to do: living my own life and discovering happiness.

[Image description: A woman standing in the front center to the camera, standing on the top of the vast green hill and staring out at the Pacific Ocean]

“Pack a pillow and a blanket. See the world. You will never regret it” – The Namesake

December 28, 2017

I held my mother’s hands before entering the airport’s security check. “Ma, te quiero mucho. I’ll miss you, dad and Alex so much.” I choked. My mother gave me a prayer and one last big hug. I looked back, waving goodbye. Saying goodbye to my family was one of the hardest moments for me (I’m even tearful as I’m writing this post). But I know everything will be okay. I know my family understand and are being supportive of my decision, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.

Now I’m a next chapter of my life: exploring the world long-term because

I only have one life.

you only live once so go travel

Do you look for or hope to find a community while traveling?

Were they really supportive? Or was it really challenging? How did you manage it? Share your thoughts/feelings in the comment below!

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. William Pipps

    Hi Stacey, it is very interesting to follow your travels here and get a glimpse of travel insight from a deaf perspective. As you say on your site, there is something less relevant for a deaf individual to read a hearing persons travel experience. You are an inspiration and look forward to your site updates and new blog posts!

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      Hi William! Happy to see that you have thought the same about how Deaf need more Deaf bloggers to feel related and understood. Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Tadej

    Great to follow your dreams, I am sure you will find what you are looking for.

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      Thank you, Tadej! I’ll get there! 🙂

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      thank you! 🙂

  3. Sarah

    When I quit my role as GM in a Silicon Valley company 4 years ago, I think everyone thought I was nuts. I’d left the UK to live there 4 years previously, and risen through the ranks. Our familiy, too were a little confused as to why we’d give up living the dream – you know an SUV, a house on the ocean, a yacht and pack everything into 40 litre backpacks and live in hostels. We’ve never regretted it. The untimely deaths of friends and family since have just reinforced what you post says. We have one life. And we need to make the most of it!

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      Wow, thank you for sharing this, Sarah! Exchanging your SUV, a house with an ocean view, yacht to experiences! That’s amazing, and not many people can understand that. It’s exciting to see what the world has to offer for you, keep it going Sarah 🙂

  4. Gabriela Michelle Macias

    Here I am mate reading your blogs. You really are an inspiration! Reading this one did make me have a knot in my throat because I can visualize everyone’s reaction. You know we love you very much! But this is YOUR life and no one can ever take that from you and your dream to travel around the world! Keep on wandering through this world mate one step at a time. You got this! I love you! ?

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      You got me smiling from ear to ear! Thank you, mate, for being supportive and sharing the love <3

  5. 陳昱婷

    Hi!! Stacey, I am Ting, the employee in WOW Hostel. I read your blog, though the words of this article are not many, but I can feel your struggle between your family and yourself. I think it is not selfish, as you said, we all only have one life, no matter what, I think you try your best to balance both, and it is difficult. You are a brave, beautiful woman, your story is inspire to me, it is nice to meet you, expect you can visit Hualien next time!!

    1. deafinitelywanderlust

      Hi Ting! Thank you so much! It is tough but I know it’s worth it. I’m already thinking of extending my year long travel to another month or two but will see how it goes first. I miss them dearly, but I know that they’ve been supportive as well. And I would love to visit Hualien again. And if I do, will stop by WOW Hostel 🙂

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