How a trip to Jordan easily convinced me to change jobs
In 2012, I left my job as a database consultant for a large software company, and started a “desk job” back in the IT department. I ended up miserable in a job I hated, and was spending too much time in my car commuting.
One day, I saw a tweet about a Photo Tour to Jordan that had a focus on giving back – in this case helping a Jordanian women’s cooperative by photographing their home-made arts and crafts. I have always loved photography and crafting, and to be able to work with women on arts and crafts – it was like it was designed for me. But I had never travelled to the Mideast. Would it be safe? As a white, overweight, 52-year-old “not as young as I wish I was” person, could I do a trip like this by myself and have fun? Would anyone like me? Could I physically handle this effort?
After talking to the trip coordinator and my husband, I decided to just do it. This was the crazy escape I needed while I waited for an opportunity to fix my job issues. I even paid extra to have a room to myself rather than take my chances with a stranger. In my mind, I was going on this trip alone, and I was just going to ride around with people in a bus and take pictures of things when we stopped. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Traveling to an Arabic country was scary – I didn’t know the language and couldn’t even fake it. The letters and numbers were completely foreign to me, and I wasn’t sure how an American would be received. But I decided to just keep a low profile, keep to myself, and told myself that everything was going to be okay.
What happened over the next 12 days changed my life in so many ways. This tour group had people from all over the world, about half from outside of the United States. The only thing we had in common was photography, but we found ways to bond over all kinds of things. I think what surprised me the most was how much we laughed – at stories, at each other, at silly things that happened.
We spent several days at the women’s cooperative with these women who were considered “too old for marriage” and were learning crafting as a way to support their families. We spent another few nights in an eco-lodge, and a couple of nights in Bedouin tents “off the grid” out in the Wadi Rum desert! We rode camels, and rode in the back of pickup trucks to see amazing sunsets. We swam in the Dead Sea, and saw the amazing sights at Petra. Oh, and we took a lot of great pictures too!
There is one moment on this trip that stands out for me as “life changing”. I am not afraid of heights, but I do have a big fear of falling from heights because I’m kind of clumsy. Somehow I got talked into climbing to the top of the monuments at Petra. This terrified me – but I found strength in my new friends, who patiently waited for me to catch my breath, and encouraged me to not give up, which I threatened to do every time we turned a corner. With their help and support, I made it to the top, which is probably one of the scariest things I’ve done in a very long time.
And that’s when I realized I needed to change my life, and stop being afraid. Here I was, with fifteen total strangers, in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, and I felt more support than I did any day at work.
To make a long story short, I returned home, and focused on finding a different job. It took me about two months, but I left the company I was with and took a big chance working for a smaller company that better met my life goals. I am still friends with all of my Jordan trip mates. My trip taught me that if I have the right people supporting me, I can take risks and there will be people to help me succeed. My new company has given me that kind of support.
That trip also taught me to be less afraid of travel and adventure. Since that first trip, I have been to Italy, Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark, Thailand, Cambodia, Dubai and Bahrain, and I’m planning a trip to Uganda. My travels have opened my eyes about how small our world really is, and showed me that we have more in common that we realize. Everywhere is on my bucket list, and you are never too old to start traveling!
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration 2017 Travel Writing Award and tell your story.