Ten weeks of building and I was ready for my freedom. After completing the van’s finishing touches, it was time to depart. Just in time, too. I finished the van, cleaned out all the sawdust, and moved my stuff in the day before we left. That same day, I rented a U-haul and took my remaining furniture to Goodwill. That night, I slept on my mattress on the floor of an empty apartment, which was kinda surreal. The morning of departure, I cut my mattress to fit in the back of the van, left my apartment keys at the leasing office, and left. 

Nick says goodbye to empty apartment.

As I sparked the engine, a strange feeling came over me. I had prepared for this moment for four months. But the expected feeling of elation was absent. I’ve traveled enough to know how uncomfortable travel can be at times, especially when you don’t have a home. I put so much time and effort and all my money into creating this new lifestyle. I had just gotten rid of all my possessions and my apartment. Was I crazy? Was it going to be worth it? Was I going to hate it? Would I have enough money? For a second, I felt frightened. Frightened of the unknown. But then I remembered… this is how I prefer to live my life: On the edge of the unknown, surfing the interface between calculated control and complete chaos. Living life at 70mph. I put the van into gear and hit the gas. 

In the moment, you can never foresee the waves of change that result from your individual choices. Hindsight is always 20/20. I didn’t know that my life was about to change dramatically, nor that I was about to change dramatically. Nor could I have possibly known that I was about to impact everybody around me as well, all my closest friends/family I would visit in my travels, and everybody I met on the road. There are probably so many things that I will never know happened as a direct result of my decision to live in a van for a year. I made waves in the spacetime continuum because I had unwittingly forced myself miles out of my comfort zone. There was no stopping what I had set in motion – the snowball was already too massive and had too much momentum. I gave myself no alternative routes, so my only option was to hang on for dear life, like riding a bull.

For over a year I rode that bull. Discomfort became the norm. I developed a taste for discomfort. I learned how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. For so long I had so many creature comforts that weren’t necessary to my survival nor my flourishing, and I found most of those comforts actually kept me complacent. I was unknowingly limiting myself. Turns out I didn’t need an apartment, bills, internet, a fridge, heat, or A/C to be my best self, though these things do make life easier. But the easy road usually doesn’t lead to growth. Sometimes you have to take the more difficult roads to get the results you want. Nothing worth having comes easy. Get out of your comfort zone. That’s where growth happens. And the growth road always leads to way more than you can possibly imagine.