“Why I left” – The story of a Midwest American who explored the unsafe world

6 Minutes

Hi! I’m Nate, and I’m from one of those forgotten states in the middle of America. It’s cozy here in Ohio. Nothing moves too fast, but it doesn’t move too slow either. It’s just right. Just like the porridge Goldilocks so intelligently decided to slurp down. That’s exactly why I left though. I had lived there my entire life, but I didn’t want to add to the 40% of Americans that have never left the country. Luckily, I’ve broken that trend. As it currently stands, I’ve been to 47 countries. The longest trip being two continuous years of travel through 5 continents, 44 countries, and over 150 cities. It was a trip of a lifetime and not so bad for a kid from the Midwest.

Nathan Lieberman enjoying the views of Croatia
Nathan Lieberman enjoying the views of Croatia

I say all of this because I know why you are here. If you are reading this blog, you are most likely facing the same dilemma. Life is good, but it could be better. I’m happy, but there is so much more to see! Travel is an endless sea of possibilities, but where do you fall into it all? Should you leave for an extended trip? Will you ever get a job again? Is travel a smart decision? The questions can be paralyzing! Let me see if I can help. If travel is a priority in the new decade, keep reading, and we’ll dissect some of the obstacles you may be up against.

Midwest Culture

The Midwest of the United States is a lovely place to live. That’s why people never leave. Time seems to slip away as summer passes into winter and into summer again. It’s relaxed here. Mainly because we have everything we would ever need. Even the family is just a stone’s throw away. 

Oh… and we love our Ohio State Buckeyes.

The main reason for this is because life is scripted here. We’re born, we go to school, we get good grades, we go to college, we get a job, we buy a car, we get married, we buy a house, we have kids, we retire, and then help out with the grandkids. This isn’t a unique script either. I’ve seen it play out over and over, like a broken record, all over the world. 

Comic from Millennial Moose

The biggest problem with the script is that it doesn’t work for everyone, and in the US, the culture doesn’t support script breakers. I shouldn’t say that. It’s more like they short circuit and try to make you conform back to the script. I don’t blame them. Really, I don’t! The script is safe. The script grants you food on the table, a roof over your head, a nice car to drive, and some trips to Disney World, so why would anyone dare break the script of life. For anyone that knows what true poverty looks like, that situation sounds like heaven.

The problem is that the Millennial generation, our generation, isn’t fully buying into the script. We are modifying it in unprecedented ways. Which causes a lot of anxiety for our boomer friends. That’s why there is societal pressure to conform, or why your parents are not fully on board with the whole travel thing. It can be extremely difficult to push through, but know that you are not alone. You are definitely not alone. We need script breakers to create progress. We need life innovators to show us that there is a different way to spend the very limited amount of time we have on this Earth. Travel can help you do just that if you are brave enough to skip the script.

A Calling

I was one of those script breakers. It took me a while to get there but the end result was still the same. Long term travel was never even a thought growing up. Sure, I had traveled quite a bit for family vacations but never to just explore. It wasn’t until university when it became a serious priority. That is when I stopped and looked around for a second. It was only a second, but it was a powerful second. My university was extremely diverse. It gathered people from all walks of life, races, cultures, creeds, religions, and social stasis. It was then that I realized that there was so much more to this world than I thought possible.

There was more than this little patch of dirt that I called home. I wanted to see the other patches of dirt! It was at that moment that it grabbed me. I’m not even sure what “it” is, but it wove its way into my very being. It nagged me through my studies, and teased me at my cubicle years later. It was always present until it became too unbearable to ignore.

I would like to say that leaving was easy, but it wasn’t. I would love to say that I bought a one way ticket on a whim and paraded it out the door of my job as I handed in my resignation. That was not the reality. Scripts are hard to break. The mental programming of living within a system, or culture, your entire life will be the hardest barrier that you have to face. Looking right into the faces that say, “It’s too dangerous out there,” and saying, “I don’t care I’m going anyway,” will test your resolve to its core. Be ready for that because the calling to travel and the pressure to conform will battle it out until you give your final verdict.

Nathan Liebermann stand on the table mountain frame with a mountain view behind him
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

The Choice

It came down to a choice. To uproot and travel, or conform into the protection of society. To further your worldly education, or stay at home. Many go through this choice. Many stay at home, but some do what needs to be done and go. For me, long term travel was something that I could not ignore, so I cast my vote in the form of a plane ticket to Germany. The rest is history. That trip shaped me in ways I will never be able to explain. It challenged everything I thought to be true. It tested me in ways I never thought were possible. It showed me how the world works and my place in it. It showed me pure generosity and the darkest evils. It was amazing and came down to a single choice to go instead of stay.

You might be at the pinnacle of this choice. It is a leap of faith but know that the jump will restore your breath as quickly as it takes it away. In an effort to get you to jump, I have one last thing to say. Travel is yours. There is no need to go here. There is no need to go there. There is no need to stay in certain places, see certain sites, or even post to Instagram. You could record everything. You could record nothing. You could stay in one place for years or switch countries every week. Travel is one of the only things left that is truly 100% yours. It can never be replicated, copied, or pasted. It is your journey and yours alone. That is powerful.

Here you are sitting at your computer or reading this from your phone and in front of you is the choice. All I have left to say is that if a Midwestern kid can do it, so can you.

All you need to do is jump.

About the Author

Fresh off a two year adventure around the world, Nate attempts to fight in the name of education. With his new venture at Millennial Moose, Nate helps teach Millennials the life skills they need to regroup, refuel, and take advantage of what this huge world has to offer. He even has a podcast where he explore stories from people around the world, go have a listen to Oyster World Radio  

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. We take no liability for the accuracy of the information and cannot be held liable for any third-party claims or losses of any damages.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. We take no liability for the accuracy of the information and cannot be held liable for any third-party claims or losses of any damages.

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