Folks who walked out on their life share their experiences

Originally published at: Folks who walked out on their life share their experiences | Boing Boing


I can’t help but think that there’s a strong element of selection bias to these stories. Of course the people telling their stories are the ones who came out alright or even ahead.The ones who didn’t likely wouldn’t be in a position where they would ( or even could) hop on Reddit. And, of course the success stories are the ones that get upvotes.

Don’t get me wrong, you do what you gotta do, but I feel that the thread, while inspiring, is incomplete.


“best thing ever”. The caveat here is that all these people have internet access and can access a Reddit forum to talk about how awesome their choice was. It doesn’t highlight those that ended up homeless or worse off…



I’ve done this a few times in life. Not exactly “walked out on” my life, but struck out alone to forge a new path in unknown territories. It’s led me to a rich life.
But I agree with other posters about selection bias in the stories. Back when I was on round 2 of striking out, maybe 25 years ago, I met a couple guys doing the same thing, I think i picked them up hitchhiking in FL. I found their number in some old address book a couple years later and called to check up on them, and it had not gone well for them. Nothing tragic, but they had a crummy time, ended up in a crummy place with crummy jobs and no friends, and decided to go back to what they’d fled in the first place.
I think it’s a huge part luck and a fair part personality as to how this can go.

And also: it’s a huge difference to be running towards something better, versus running away from something crummy, psychologically at least.


What to expect when you run away from home? Everything and anything will happen to you, you just have to keep going until you find the sunshine. My personal experience was 50/50 in 1976, but that 50/50 was 100% better than the shit sandwich I was eating everyday of my life prior to being invited to leave home.

Again, thanks Mom, best thing that ever happened to me / best thing you ever did for me…



That’s especially true if, as in many of these stories, there was little to no planning involved. I understand that a lot of these “walk-aways” happened under duress and that in those situations there’s no time to plan. But for those who aren’t desperate and just want a change, going to a brand new place without a plan is going to lead to misery more often than not.

The common thread that leads to success, from what I see in these stories, is deliberately seeking out a community and/or family of choice to connect with in the new place. Without doing that, the prospect of the happier life sought becomes a real toss-up.


Absofuckinglutly! Damn I was lucky to find good friends / neighbors / teachers / roof over my head / paying work all in one day,[ now that was magic]. It never happened to me before I left home, but it’s happened many times since.


And to be fair, almost none of these stories are “walking out on their life”. They are stories of moving to a new city, taking a new job, or starting some other generally fairly well planned adventure.

I’ve done this a bunch of times (lived in five cities and two countries in a five year stretch, at one point. However, this is not “walking out one day and starting over”. This is just a change of scenery, and it shouldn’t be shocking that getting out of a rut is a positive thing.


It’s sometimes crazy to think back on, I didn’t get settled as quickly as you, but I think my time as a homeless vagabond is what gives me such confidence in the general character of people. I know there are baddies out there, but I was basically thrust at the mercy of the world at a relatively young age, and almost everyone was, if not kind, at least not purposely cruel. Which is a better ratio than I was experiencing at home.


Yeah, well, the ones who actually walked out on life and got eaten by a bear, or now live in a van down by the river and aren’t on the internet aren’t making reddit posts are they? Survivor bias!

(I am really just making excuses to remain complacent.)


I did this 16 years ago (when I was relatively young and had little to lose). I quit a job in the middle of my lunch break and drove three days across the country to see if a relationship would work out. It did. I’m still here and we’re still together with our family of fur beasts and a house and good jobs, etc.

There was a lot of privilege involved. I knew I could phone home for money if something went wrong. I abandoned a crappy retail job, not a career I had invested years and tuition in. It did take courage, but the stakes weren’t higher than hoping I didn’t get stuck in Oregon for a few weeks before landing on my feet if it didn’t work out. But it was definitely the right life-changing decision to make.


I left everything to drive with a lover across the country on a promise of housing that didn’t come through. We rented a shitty apartment, furnished it with lawn chairs & sleeping bags, dove dumpsters to find enough cans to recycle that we could buy gas money to continue dumpster diving, & fought about what to do next. My lover lost a filling & I remember cold-calling dentists’ offices from a phone booth to beg for help. We ended up driving back across country before the snows came & before the car failed so we wouldn’t be completely stuck. We broke up in a tent on the coast in the fog. Eventually the lover married someone else, had a kid, divorced, & left the country. And I learned to pay attention to the gut instinct that says, “This is a probably a bad idea.”


I’ve done it a few times. Partly because I had a great job that meant every summer I packed my van, said goodbye to wherever I was, and went to the North for a few months. At the end I’d go somewhere else.

It helps to be fairly good at making friends. I seem to make a few decent friends within a couple of months (Hint: Do stuff, don’t stay at home and mope).

My wife was much the same, and we’ve done it together a couple of times as well. Age and family have slowed down the ‘up and move’ somewhat, and I’m not likely to move or change careers again, but that’s because I live in a truly amazing place, have a great part-time job and a great part-time business. None of those things would have happened if I hadn’t ‘up and left’ and/or taken dramatic career risks a few times.

That being said, it all could have gone wrong somewhere along the way. I certainly ended up in difficult situations a few times, but I’ve also had a lot of great experiences. One must be comfortable with uncertainty, because it’s happening anyway.


See also:


Right, and you don’t even need to end up homeless or really poor to select out of the group. People who did this and things were just ok would not really be motivated to share their experiences because it is not really a good story. I mean, at one point I quit my job and moved across the country with no job or place to stay and, eh, it worked out OK. I did alright but nothing amazing. Not worth going to reddit and posting about .

(Edit for missing a word)


Some of these read like "OMG I went to law school somewhere other than the local state u! " Was expecting faked deaths or trips to the corner store to get cigarettes.


Yeah, some of these are equivalent to me joining the Army to get out of the ADHD-induced death spiral I was in. Sure, it was a break from the hoped-for college and career, sent me overseas (where I stayed), but it wasn’t literally walking out on my life.


I did this, how I ended up in the US for a while. Best thing I ever did, would be dead or an alcoholic today, if I hadn’t. Though I agree, not for the faint of heart… although I’m pretty faint and it certainly toughened me up.


Anybody watching “The Lady and the Dale”? For some people, walking out on their life is their life.

1 Like