I’ve never been one for countdowns, but this one is not one I can really shy away from as it it feels like there is blaring red digital clock just ticking down the minutes every time I look around. There it is in the background tick, tick, tick. Seconds just ticking down. I’m writing this to convey (not so subtly) the reality of changing careers in your early thirties. I look back to my college days as a senior in early 2009. I was so worried, so concerned with what was to come next after graduation. Back then prospects weren’t great, and the housing bubble had just burst, although I did not even understand the concept of what was happening until I saw the effects of that crash on personal lives of people I was close to some months later.

I mean what does it mean to start out as a newly graduated senior? What are we to do?

Previously I had worked a multitude of jobs, the first at the towns public library (a job which I absolutely loved by the way and even though it only paid $5.25 / hour and was about 6 houses walking distance away from my house, I was elated to have a job, which allowed me to be surrounded by books. NERD ALERT. Then there was the summer stint filing papers at a doctors office, ugh, the smattering of babysitting jobs shoved in throughout.

After going to college it was minimum wage at Wendy’s (and the minimum wage in the state of West Virginia was hella low at the time), donating my plasma twice a week for dirty, old $20 bills, you know the kind of money used in drug dealing and should be out of circulation by now, proctoring the occasional LSAT for $90 to ensure no one was cheating on the test, working as a personal assistant to an organic chemistry professor, and landing the TA job in the forensic science program which allowed me to get paid the most amount of money I had previously been paid at $11 / hour to set up crime scenes and splatter real blood on the walls for the junior class while I was a senior.

Of course there was that one arduous summer that I spent working a 40 hour work week for a Coroner’s office to complete my forensic science internship for WVU, which was unpaid and I had to pay $3,000 for the 6 credits. Thus I was forced into turning the time at the coroner’s office into 4 10 hour days, while working 11 hours on Wednesday’s at a community college book store a friend of my family was a manager of, and I spent the last 3 arduous days of the week AKA all my Friday nights and the weekend catering events at a venue in Greensburg, PA. I don’t think I worked so hard and so long for so little during my the summer of my junior year. Ohh wait, I did that 7 month deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Anyway, after graduating college in May of 2009, I was at Officer Candidate School that August and the military has been all I’ve known ever since. So while all my friends were trying to figure out that next step, I had already signed on the dotted line and was excited to be off to see the world. Now, 10 years later, that job security blanket is quickly slipping off the bed and I am just 30 days away from being back to the beginning again, this time with other factors that have been in the works, like all the what if’s to starting over at the age of 32, to have a lot of options and no prospects, do you know how that feels? If so I encourage you to comment because I really want to talk to some people who just get it.

As I had mentioned in previous posts, this ordeal has given me great anxiety to an obsessive compulsive degree which involves carefully marking everything down in my planner, writing lists in pen, writing lists in pencil, writing temporary lists which will get thrown away once they are completed. Over at my house the to do lists just only seem to get longer and more complex. I mean there are a great many things to consider if you would like to use all available military benefits, such as the legal documents lists, the finances list, the transitional benefits list, the final documents, and the potential joining the reserves pros and cons list. I think you can start to see to what degree I have taken the list writing situation. Ohhh anxiety…

But it has been very helpful and efficient. I now have developed very long lists for 2 separate moves and I think that will be very beneficial in one week when I begin the whole process of moving out. The unconventional outcome that I have planned for my first year post military has also not gotten the highest degree of “enjoy,” “you go do that,” “what a great plan,” from friends and family. I am sticking to the plan no matter how daunting it may seem. I will leave the military in April, move back home, collect my van, fit it was a couple of things, and drive South, very far South, for 7+ months. I have been sub consciously dreaming this up for a couple years now and I am sticking to the plan. Whether I can stick to the budget or not I do not know, I am not even sure what the budget is. Whether I will make it all the way to where I am going I do not know, but I am certain I will not be rolling through Venezuela at any point.

Anyway, the 30 day countdown is here. There is so much happening that it will be gone before it began and I will be back in my small town, jobless, and without any new income in a mere 4 weeks. I cannot predict how this will go down for me, nor do I want to but I am lucky to have a plethora of friends and family backing me through this time, and I have got to figure out how to travel for a year and make ends meet at the same time. Anything is possible.

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.