Why I Chose Van Life: Cecilia’s Story
My Life View
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau
While I was in college, I was greatly impacted by the book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge. The author motivates the reader to unleash those wild dreams of the heart allowing them to become reality. As a kid, I dreamed of being a female warrior, specifically an Amazonian princess (I watched a lot of Xena). I wanted to be a strong woman who could kick butt, conquer the bad guys, and save the good guys who needed my help. What if those dreams we had as a child were indicators of our life’s purpose? Stay with me a second, and no I didn’t become Xena Warrior Princess.
What if these imaginative dreams were life’s little premonition to inform us of our latent potential? Nonetheless, something stops us from pursuing those dreams. Whether it be fear of failure or society saying those ideas are unrealistic, we abandon those seemingly unattainable dreams. We join the mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation.
This book was an eye-opener for me. I came to realize that this life is my adventure story and I am the author. Whether I become the hero of just another background character, is completely up to me. Disregard the critics (society) or the lack of “realism” (self-limitations), what I make of my life is MY choice.
There is no greater pain than the pain of regret. I would rather deal with the pain of consequence than the pain of regret, therefore I believe we should take chances, push our boundaries, and challenge the status quo. We should push forward with a reckless abandon to pursue our dreams and make them a reality.
Where I was
I wanted to leave my mark on this world; to help others, to inspire, and to live up to the potential God had created within me. I had completed two incredible years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde. I moved to Los Angeles where I volunteered with refugee services, and then to the Brazilian Amazon where I advocated alongside indigenous groups for land rights and environmental protection. I landed my dream job at a multi-lateral international development institution where I hoped to multiply my impact tenfold. By working in a policy environment, I had the opportunity to assist not only one or two communities, but entire populations benefitting from national policy. To gain the technical expertise required, I went to graduate school.
Everything was going according to plan. I received a full-ride scholarship as a Rotary Global Grants Scholar and graduated from the University of Manchester in England with a Masters degree in International Development and Public Policy. Returning home, the plan was to settle down, immerse myself into my career and continue along my lofty dream toward ‘world peace and prosperity’.
I had finally arrived at my dream job with the title of “analyst” ready to climb the so-called ladder, yet something wasn’t right. Uninspired and feeling out of place, I was confined, under pressure with no release valve for creativity or unconventional thinking.
Scott and I began dating in 2015, however, we had been friends for much longer. He witnessed my ambition in Brazil to my disillusionment working at my desk job. Although I could not see it at the time, he knew that my heart was longing for more than prestige within an established organization.
I have always been attracted to adventure, interaction, and connection. The opportunity to engage with others, learn from one another, and become better people as a result, is something that drives me. I need the freedom to be able to explore myself and this world, push my limits, and give back in a way that is meaningful and impactful. A 9-to-5 office job was stifling, and I was drowning. It was time for me to get out.
Where I am Now: Van Life
Scott had his own reasons for pursuing van life. However, unbeknownst to him, it was his child-like curiosity of the world and his insatiable desire for learning and change that inspired me.
Of anyone that I know, Scott lives his own authentic life. He owns 4 silk capes, not as a fashion statement, but because he wants to be a superhero. He has an arsenal of nerf guns to raid off the impending ‘zombie apocalypse’. Scott is a rock climber, photographer, competitive shooter, math tutor and astronomy whizz who can tie over 50 kinds of knots, cook an incredible lobster bisque, dance a sexy bachata and recite a good portion of π. This world is his playground, and for him, it is whatever his imaginative mind dreams it to be. His transparent zest for life reopened my eyes to my own adventure story.
Longing to re-find my adventure, I agreed to join Scott in pursuing the ‘van life’. We would sell the majority of our belongings, convert a 2003 Sprinter van into a tiny home on wheels, and set ourselves loose on the world.
I left behind my conventional office job for a virtual role allowing me to work from anywhere in the world (as long as there is internet service). All of this has given us freedom: the freedom of mobility to move wherever the wind takes us; the freedom from societal pressures to follow a certain life path; the freedom from wanting unnecessary things; and most of all, the freedom to create something bigger and greater in this life.
I don’t know what our future holds following van life, but I am ok with that. They say that the more you throw yourself into uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations, the more you learn and grow. I for one, am ready to dive headfirst into the unknown.