Why I Quit My Job, Traveled Asia for a 5 weeks, and Moved to Portland

30 December 2014

"You got tired of Hawaii after living there for only one year?"

Well, technically it was only 11 months but one year sounds much better so I say that instead.

But this question has come up again and again as I meet new people in Portland and mention that I just moved here from Hawaii.

"There were a lot of factors" is my go-to response. Usually they don't press on but some people do ask for details. A couple of the reasons I feel comfortable sharing in casual conversation, others I don't.

I'm not an island girl

Yes, Hawaii is literally heaven on earth; my walk to work involved strolling under palms and plumeria trees, on my lunch break I could go for a swim with sea turtles, and then on the way home enjoy a rainbow and an epic sunset.

But I'm an Ohio girl at heart. I crave weather that changes through the year and gives a sense of time. I like going on long road trips and not being stuck on one rock in the middle of an ocean. I like being able to wear layers of clothing, drink tea, and take a hot shower with out feeling like a sweaty mess.

While Hawaii is an excellent place to vacation, it just didn't resonate with who I am as a person and what I need in my life.

My career had no future

I may be young but I'm definitely looking to build a career and I thought I had found the right company to do that with. The company I worked for had plenty of business coming in and was making millions of dollars but our internal team was small which meant it was easy for me to get noticed.

And I did get noticed.

After a couple months I had become close to the founder/owner of our company and he would personally tell me what a great worker I was. I worked my ass off to impress my superiors and started doing things beyond my job responsibilities. At one point I was working from 6 am to 11 pm everyday between running our companies social media, collaborating with our sales department, and even doing construction work in addition to my actual office job. Mind you, this was all while being paid what is basically minimum wage when you consider the cost of living in Hawaii.

So one day I finally went to my manager and directly told her I wanted a raise.

"You are the perfect candidate for a raise. We will definitely consider it!" She replied.

Months passed. I continued to work tirelessly and my pay never changed.

This time I went directly to the owner of the company.

He instantly promised he'd put me on a salary that would double my pay as well as several other bonus checks for my hard work.

Months passed. I still was getting the same paycheck. I became disheartened and jaded. First I stopped doing any thing that wasn't a part of my job description and eventually I started slacking at even the most basic requirements of my job.

I realized that this company had no intention of allowing any employees to grow and make their way up the cooperate ladder. They simply wanted me to stay at the bottom and maybe pick up some extra work while I was at it.

I was so fed up that I quit. Not only quit, I wanted to show how angry I was by leaving the entire fucking island.

I had developed an eating disorder

I actually haven't shared this with anyone until now. In fact, I didn't even realize I had an issue until I started my trip to Asia.

If you've never been to Hawaii you might not be aware that the cost of living is quite high, especially when it comes to food. I got two paychecks a month and the first one would go entirely to my rent. That didn't leave much for eating.

So it began slowly. I started skipping breakfast and only eating lunch and dinner. No treats, just the basics to survive. Soon I became obsessed with money and how I spent it on food. I started equating feeling full with being irresponsible and feeling hungry with being financially sensible.

Eventually I was turning down food, even when it was offered to me for free, and just eating a bowl of rice a day. I didn't realize it but subconsciously I was patting myself on the back every time my stomach growled because it meant I wasn't spending money.

My five weeks in Asia

I'm not going to go so far to say my trip was a life-changing, spiritual adventure but it was definitely fun and eye opening.

Firstly, I got to cross a shit ton of things of my bucket list. My college major was East Asian Studies so it was awesome to go to all these places I had been reading about for years. And I got to use my language skills again which is always fun for a language nerd like me!

Also, I finally recognized that I had an eating disorder and worked to correct this bad habit. I developed a mantra which I would repeat to myself throughout the day: "Feeling full is good! Spending money on food is ok!" I'm happy to say that I have now overcome my eating disorder!

Lastly, I learned that I'm not as much an introvert as I thought. While traveling I began craving human interaction and friendship like I had never before in the past. This trip helped me develop new social skills which allowed me to make friends everywhere I traveled.

A proper write up on my Asia trip will be coming soon!

Life in Portland

The first week of my new life in Oregon was hard. I didn't know anyone here other than one college friend and it was unbelievably cold (for someone coming from Hawaii, anyways). Since adjusting to the weather and the timezone, though, I've been having fun slowly exploring the city.

I'm in a really trendy district which provides plenty of coffee shops and bars to explore and I'm meeting some really fun people. One sunny day I even made a trip out to the coast which was beautiful and was an awesome excuse to eat lots of delicious seafood.

Currently I am still looking for employment but hopeful that it will be happening soon now that the holidays are over. 

If you have any tips for what I should see/eat/do now that I'm in the Pacific North West, please leave your recommendations!

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  1. Hey! Welcome back Aryn! First of all, congratulations on getting yourself out of a bad situation. That sounds like it was so shitty. I'm happy you were able to escape to Asia for some good R&R.
    I have a friend that's from the PNW and lived in Portland for a few years so she definitely has some recommendations :)

    1. Thanks! So far I'm loving it out here!

  2. First off let me say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog. It has been motivating to say the least. Its time for me to break free! I travel very often but have been craving a long extended freedom of months on end...you landed in an amazing place. I live in Hood River and the Gorge is a must visit. To many local gems to list. Tamawanas Falls, mt hood, adams(mushroom hunting), bachelor(bend)smith rocks, helens (ape caves). Cape lookout, kiwanda. Opal creek and Bagby hot springs...and the list goes on!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog! And thanks for the tips! I've done a couple of those things so far but I've still got a lot to do (especially those hot springs!)

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