I’ve got all sorts of colorful language that comes to mind every time someone contends my decision to travel. I’m continually haunted by the phrase “It’s cute that you travel, but when will you settle down and get a real job?” It bothers me so much in fact, that I sometimes imagine ripping off that person’s hand and slapping them in the face with it… How’s that for cute?!
But I don’t do that. Partly because I’m a sissy, but mostly because I acknowledge that the person who is really raining on my travel parade is myself. I’m my own harshest critic. Sure, I’ve had a few people give me the “look” when I say that I’m a traveler, but if I’m being honest that doesn’t bother me much- and if I was secure with my decision it wouldn’t bother me at all.
I wake up some mornings, in a dirty dormitory bunk or on the floor of an overbooked hostel, and panic. What the hell have I done? I’m 25 and have nothing to show for it. No career, no home, and no savings account. I’m an utter mess, an absolute disaster. I blame my college professors, my parents and my friends who seemingly have their lives together. I blame my privilege, as well as my struggle. I even blame my cat.
But truly, it’s my fault. I don’t give myself enough credit; or trust.
Does this resonate with you?
Traveling was a decision I made first out of desperation, in the pursuit to find happiness; then out of necessity, in the realization that travel is what brings me happiness. Travel was a choice not a result. And if I’m ever going to fully commit I need to clear a few things up with myself.
Listen up Carly- and to those of you who also need a little motivational kick in the rear.
You are doing exactly what you should be doing. Otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. Life is full of lessons and experiences that shape you into the complex human you are destined to be. Throwing yourself into the unknown, through exposure to different cultures and beliefs keeps your soul invigorated and your mind eager to grow. The worst thing you could do is put yourself into a box. Don’t you dare put yourself into a box…
Nothing is permanent. Believe it or not, almost everything has a “stop, I quit” option. You have the freedom to come and go as you please from your job, from your travels, from your thought patterns and from social standards. You think you are ready to get a 9-5 office job? Give it a try and if you hate it, leave. Want to travel the world for a year? Buy a one-way ticket and return home whenever you want, even if only after one month. Find what makes you happy and do it until it no longer makes you happy- then find something else that does.
You’ve got plenty to show for yourself. Your bank accounts may teeter the bounds of non-existence, but your heart holds the answers to the universe; your eyes have seen the tallest of mountains, the bluest of waters and the power of a smile. You’ve tested your limits, you’ve poured our love into the 24-hour friendships and you’ve kicked down borders with your open-mind. I think that’s pretty bad ass.
Even though it might not seem like it, you’ve actually got it figured out. At the end of the day, life is about living. And holy moly are you living. You found what makes you happiest and most free; and you held onto it. Money and careers are just fluff, and although they might provide comfort or stability they have no effect on your spirit. I’ve never once heard someone say they regret traveling… The wealthiest people in the world continue to preach, from their death beds, the importance of love and happiness above all else- everything else is superfluous.
So find love and find happiness, you wandering soul. Give it all you got and don’t look back!