I was ready to hear all kinds of comments. I had read in other blogs about unsupportive family and friends, about people being told they were crazy, about the negative effect it might have on a professional career. I knew about it, and I was prepared when I started explaining my project to the people around me.
So, what do they think about my plans?
I started by telling the friends who travel the most. I thought that they would understand me better than the ones who don’t travel, but I was wrong. These are some of the comments I received:
‘Cool! If I could, I would think about it. If you can, do it’
‘It is important to do what you need, there is no point in filling expectations. Congratulations! Go to it’
‘Cool! If you have the opportunity, do it. Now it is the moment, you have the right age, you do not have family responsibilities. Do it, it will be good for you. If I manage to save money and get some holidays, I might join you for a month’
‘Do it, you’ll see, it will be good for you. When you travel alone you meet much more travellers and local people than when traveling in group. You learn to be more independent and get more confidence in yourself, and to see things in a different, more relative way’
‘Incredible the adventure you’re going to start, you are a champion!’
‘It’s not true! Really? No! Really? This is a super project! It’s good that there are people that do whatever is possible to reach their dreams. Some people wake up one day and understand, all of a sudden, that they are not where they would like to be, and that can be hard’
Every person I talked with had a very positive reaction. Cool!
The first one to know about my trip was my brother.
‘The most difficult is already done’, I remember telling him. ‘No, not yet’, he replied. I was surprised, ‘do you think so? I thought the most difficult would be taking the decision’. ‘Oh no’ he said, ‘you still have to tell mom’.
He had a point, I still had to tell my parents. And, oh, I had to talk with my employer as well.
I thought for a long time how I would tell my parents, and I finally decided to start the story from the beginning: that I was not fine at work, how I felt the need to try something else, why I visited a specialist of personal and professional development, the reasons behind my decision. It seemed to be a good approach.
‘I think it is a good decision, it is what you need’
‘It is clear you could not continue that way, you need a change’
They completely understood I need a break, not so much why I need to go that far, but they accepted my decision. Good!
Speaking to my boss was even more critical than to my family: my employer could accept or reject my demand for a sabbatical leave. I knew they were very happy about my work, so they would not like my departure. I was very nervous (did I say very nervous? I was extremely nervous) the day I talked to them. Fortunately, both my boss and the project leader had a very positive reaction.
‘A sabbatical year? To travel around the world?’. I nodded. ‘I have a friend who did that. He left for one year… and came back six years later’. My eyes opened widely. He smiled. ‘Finally he came back and found a job. So brave! For a girl it is more difficult. Go on, we will not stop you’
‘A personal project like this, next to a professional project… you cannot compare, a personal project is more important. If you have the opportunity to do it, go, you must take advantage of opportunities. It is great what you are going to do’
I cannot imagine how it could have been better! I think they appreciated that I had told them in advance, and that I was flexible about my departure date. After that, I started telling my other colleagues, from whom I received mixed impressions.
‘So brave! And you are not scared of leaving alone? a girl travelling alone…’
‘Oh, I’m so jealous!’
‘Where are you going? How, when…? Isn’t it very expensive?’
‘So… how does it work to apply for a sabbatical year? you must work how many years before the application…? uhm…’
(If next year there are a lot of applications for a sabbatical leave, it is not my fault!)
Globally, it was much better than I expected. I feel very happy, and very lucky!
I have a friend, though, who thinks it is not only a matter of luck…
‘I don’t think it is a matter of luck. In the way you present it, it is deeply thought, well organized, you have a project, you talk about it with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. People understand that this is what you really want to do and have nothing wrong to say about it’.
Maybe. Still, I think I am lucky. Very lucky. And I would like to thank my friends for their understanding, my boss and the project leader for their encouragement and to allow me to leave without any problem, and my family for their support.
Gràcies, gracias, thanks, merci!
Foot note: I do not try to convince anybody to take a break. This project is my dream but I understand it is not for everybody. I’m only sharing this in case it can help someone who has the same dream as me, because we should not be so scared of what people will say.