Have you ever been so burnt out that going into a war zone seemed preferable to your job? Read Ryan’s amazing story…
Please share your story… what was your leap?
I burned out of my job as a Resident Director – I was living with college students for 8 years. I was the basic “Jane Goodall” of college students. Besides supervising Resident Advisors, I dumped students’ beer, handled crises on a weekly basis and basically had zero life.
So I quit my job and took another in Afghanistan (yes, I burned out of my job so badly that war was the better option). I lived and worked there one year.
What inspired you to take this leap?
I needed to reboot my life. I needed to start again. When you’re just about 40, you take a look and think—is this all there is? Living with college students? I was applying for other jobs, but I couldn’t seem to get traction. So when a friend offered me a job, with great money, and some adventure, I took it.
What is it that made this a leap for you?
I’d say the adventure and the fact that I could say I did something that not many people have ever done.
How long would you say you thought about taking this leap before you did it?
What was the hardest part before you took the leap? Was anything challenging after you did it?
Saying goodbye to everyone I loved. The isolation in Afghanistan was choking, but I had to make the best of it, and find some friends quickly. I got involved in our chapel and soon I started traveling to different bases across Afghanistan; I saw about 75% of Afghanistan and about 25 operating bases.
How did you keep yourself motivated to stick with the change as it was happening?
Well, I was there a year. I could cancel my contract and head home, but I just couldn’t. So I worked on skills while I was there. I did a blog called geekinafghanistan.com to let people know how I was doing. I raised money for charity:water. I kept myself busy. I also watched all the recent episodes of Doctor Who.
What was the best part of the experience?
Hands down—meeting the soldiers and having a life where I knew I was alive. When I was boarding a C-130 at 2 AM I thought, “Who does this? Not many people.”
Looking back at the leap you made, is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?
What did you learn about yourself from taking this leap? About the world around you, if anything?
I’m way stronger than I thought and that I’m blessed with amazing friends. The world around me? This might sound a little depressing, but there is a war going on right now. There are women and men out there fighting for us. They are fighting every day, separated from all they love for us. They are there now and I hope with my fists clenched that they come home quickly, safely, and permanently.
If you had to describe what making this leap has done for you in one sentence, what would you say?
It taught me to appreciate all that I have and that I take absolutely nothing for granted anymore.
Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?
The only thing I miss about Afghanistan are the soldiers I trained – they are the bravest people I know.