Since my first move abroad in 2002, I’ve heard the same things over and over:

“I wish I could do what you do.”

“I’m living vicariously through you.”

“You’re so lucky.”

I try and take comments like this in the best way possible. Whether it’s patting myself on the back for being brave and chucking convention, or simply taking a moment to count my blessings and recognize that I am lucky, I know such comments are shared from honest and truthful places. As life unfolds and people get married, have babies and buy houses, opportunities change and “adventures” like spending three months working abroad aren’t always a possibility. At the same time, I often find myself getting a bit defensive in response to comments like this, all too tempted to remind people that I make choices so that I have the freedom to take advantage of opportunities as they come. I don’t lock myself into pricey car payments or eat at extravagant restaurants. I love to shop, but I’m addicted to sales, and my hobbies tend to be relatively low cost (except for that skiing thing…). As the past four years have unfolded I have stepped back many times to marvel at how things have come together to support almost three years abroad. From amazing consulting opportunities to unexpected windfalls I am making it work, and hopefully by early spring I’ll have a M.A. and a new chunk of work experience in the developing world to boot.

So now I’m on the brink – it’s time to get a proper job, build on my experience and education and officially begin this new career path. Even with the excitement of unknown next steps, I’m having a hard time preparing myself mentally for what could be a more 8-5 existence with fixed vacation and an even more fixed geography. Most people pursuing this career path would not fear such things – I am looking for work in the global development field after all – as exposure to the world is part of the package. But we all have false stories we tell ourselves, and for me it’s that even after all this time, work and exploration, I might end up exactly where I started.

Instead of giving in to such fear, I wanted to brainstorm some of these thoughts and pose a question to the Go Girl community. How do all of you balance your desire to be out and in the world (whether for work or play) alongside your need to pay bills, live responsibly and support family and any other important commitments you might have? As I get ready to make this transition I could use some inspiration and I know this is the group to provide it. What jobs are you doing that give you flexibility to travel? What process have you gone through to make peace with your wanderlust and your bank account? Or, have you decided to throw convention to the wind and simply be at one with the world, wherever it takes you? Do tell Go Girls, do tell…