Do you feel stuck or in a rut? Do you sometimes wonder if there’s an alternative life waiting for you elsewhere that you need to catch up to? If so, you’re not alone. In 2017, 80% of Americans surveyed admitted that they felt “stuck in a routine.” I imagine that number is even higher since the pandemic began, as the days often blur together, leaving us feeling unmotivated and unfulfilled.
However, today is TAKE A CHANCE DAY, an opportunity to find our way back to our dreams and dare to envision how to make them a reality. Although it can be frightening to move away from our comfort zones, it can also be exhilarating. At least, that’s been my experience.
At age 41, I found myself at a crossroads when the birthday marriage proposal I had been expecting from my partner Hank didn’t happen. Broaching the subject of marriage and motherhood backfired in a big way, as Hank’s vision of the future was vastly different than mine. Devastated, I realized that if I stayed with him, our relationship would forever remain on his terms. While those “terms” weren’t disagreeable in the short term—he and I got along very well day-to-day—I knew it was only a matter of time before my frustration and disappointment reached the boiling point. I didn’t want to suppress those powerful emotions, only to have them emerge as angry regrets later. Even if I never found lasting love or had a child, staying with Hank and compromising my values surely sounded the death knell for my dreams.
A confluence of events transpired to pave the way for my separation from Hank. After four years of part-time study, I completed the graduate management program at Radcliffe Seminars and was no longer geographically bound to Boston. I had also reached the end of the road professionally with my fundraising job and was already interviewing with other local nonprofits. Yet, while I went through the motions of looking for a new position, something kept nagging at me. Did I want to continue my life in a similar way as before, a kind of parallel one in which the view from my office changed slightly, as did the name of my boyfriend and street address? Wasn’t there something else I longed for?
One look at the dust on my Kawai grand piano was enough to convince me that I had been missing out. By becoming too focused on my job and furthering my education and career skills, I had neglected my piano playing and passion for music. Cringe. Then there were all those faraway destinations I still longed to explore: Amsterdam, Turkey, Greece. I’d once been so ripe for adventure, so open to possibility. Had that part of me disappeared for good? For years, my pangs of wanderlust had been suppressed by Hank’s fear of flying, which ruled out overseas travel.
I dusted off my piano and began to play a Consolation by my musical idol, Franz Liszt. Since childhood, the music of that Hungarian composer-pianist had always lifted my spirits. I thought of his words: “Beware of missing chances; otherwise it may be altogether too late someday.” Missing changes … too late someday … Those sentiments resonated with me.
Within six months, my life totally changed: I broke up with Hank, left my job and career, and moved overseas to Budapest, land of Liszt. I’d finally decided to pay attention to that nagging feeling and do something about it. By immersing myself in a new, exotic culture, I connected with the “old” me—the pianist, the romantic, the adventuress. I trained to become an English language teacher, volunteered at the Liszt Academy of Music, sang in a chorus, and traveled throughout Europe.
I never looked back until I wrote about these experiences in Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding. If you are curious about what transpired during those first few years overseas, you can download a free copy of Odyssey at my website: https://lindajamsen.com/ Just sign up at the bottom of the page to receive your ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I hope you will be inspired by my story.
In the meantime, today, TAKE A CHANCE DAY, is the perfect time to begin advancing your longed-for goals. As one who took a leap of faith into an uncertain future and flourished, I know you can do it. I am cheering you on!