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BEN WEHRMAN

On September 6th 2018, my roommates and I were having a house party in our Seattle apartment. It was a decent size, probably 40-50 people, and everyone was having a jolly old time drinking beer and watching the sun set outside our window.

Seattle Skyline View
Nice shot of my neighborhood in Seattle. It was just over the hill from city center – far enough to be outside of the crazy traffic, but still just a quick bike ride away.
Photo by Joe Wolf

At some point in the evening, I struck up a conversation with a guy that I had never met before. His name was Max.

As Max and I got chatting, it didn’t take long to find out that he was far from the average party guest. Turns out, just days earlier, Max had returned from a 1-year stay in Sydney, Australia. Still beaming from the trip, he was happy to talk my ear off about his story, and I made it clear that I was happy to hear every word of it.

In hindsight, there couldn’t have been a better time for me to talk to this guy. His tale of sunny beaches and kangaroo selfies resonated with me deeply, and without even knowing it, he was slowly convincing me to drop everything and hit the SEND button.

It just so happened that for several months leading up to this night, I had been in a very weird mental state. I had everything that any normal millennial American could ask for: a reasonably-priced apartment in the city, awesome roommates, and a fulfilling job in my dream field (renewable energy).

But . . . I simply wasn’t happy. I just felt bored with it all. Every week I had the same daily routine:

  1. Drag my ass out of bed.
  2. Go to work.
  3. Hit the gym.
  4. Eat food.
  5. Watch Netflix.
  6. Go to bed.

Every week I went through these same motions, and I could physically feel a slice of my 20s being depleted. I knew there was a whole world of adventure out there that I was missing out on . . . but I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say, it’s HARD to leave a stable lifestyle and jump into the mysterious abyss beyond the 9-5.

Alright, I’m getting totally sidetracked here. What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah! We’re drinking.

Shark costume drinking
Shark boys. Pictured here with my roommate Dane, at one of our other parties. Photo by Antone Patterson

So Max and I ended up talking for hours. I’d always been curious about Australia, so I couldn’t get enough of his firsthand insight. If you’re like I was, you’ve probably fiddled with the idea of running away from it all and starting over somewhere new, but just couldn’t find the “right time” to pull the trigger and make it happen. The biggest reason why I never considered it was because I’d always assumed that there were a crazy amount of hoops to jump through, and I was just too lazy to really sit down and lay out a step-by-step plan.

This is where my conversation with Max changed everything. Contrary to my prior belief that there was a minefield of steps that needed to be taken to travel for an extended period of time, Max picked apart my predetermined notions piece by piece.

Isn’t it crazy expensive? 

Nope.

Doesn’t the paperwork take weeks to fill out?

Nah.

Doesn’t it take months to get your visa approved after you finally submit everything?

Negative.

Well then . . . at this point, the little kid inside of me was starting to get a little excited.

I’ve yet to mention a crucial part of my decision-making process: Our apartment lease was due just 5 days later, so I was rapidly approaching the deadline on deciding whether or not I’d be living in Seattle for another year. Of course, I’ve never been one to make difficult decisions in a timely manner . . . at least not until alcohol gave me a hand.

4 hours and 10 drinks later, I did what any logical millennial would do. I gave this random dude a hug for enlightening me, and made my decision right then and there. I cleared off a spot on the table, grabbed my laptop, and filled out the entire Australian Working Holiday Visa application right there in the middle of the party!

This turned out to be the greatest decision of my life.

seattle skyline
Nightfall in the 206. Photo: Ben Wehrman

When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t help but laugh. After spending all of 2018 grappling with what I wanted to do with my life, all I needed was some booze, and a meeting with the right stranger at a crowded house party. I logged into my laptop to review everything I had scrambled through the night before. Sure enough, there it was: AUSTRALIAN WORKING HOLIDAY VISA: PENDING.

It felt real. It felt terrifying. And it felt fucking amazing.

…Now what?

-Ben

UP NEXT: Flight Day

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