Since I started travelling I’ve experienced nothing but support and excitement about my decision from almost everyone I know. I have the most amazing family who’s proud of me and everyone else I care about are happy on my behalf too. And I am truly grateful for that. But then there’s always that one person who’s not happy but disappointed. Disappointed because I’m not studying like any sensible young person would. It’s not a person I know very well, not a close friend or relative, so why should I care? Well, it’s never nice to know someone thinks you’re being stupid. And for a moment this person can make you feel like you’ve let everyone down. But at the same time that person makes me even prouder of myself and so very grateful that I’m not like them.
They also made me want to write about why I’m travelling instead of studying and what I feel is important to me, because I’ve thought a lot about it this past year and I know others struggle to figure this out too.
We have so many options these days. You can study and you have so many different fields to choose from. You can also start working straight away. Or you can go travelling and the list of countries you can visit seems to be never ending. I don’t want to say there are too many options, because who wouldn’t want to have the chance to do all of these things?? But it’s not that easy when only certain things seem to be truly accepted. I feel like studying generally seems to be the only accepted way to go and if you do something else there’s always that voice telling you it’s not good enough. And it can be hard to tell the difference between what it is that you truly want and what you do because someone else wants you to.
Going to university is a great choice. It’s also a big plus that by the end of it you’ll be qualified for something. It makes you more secure. Although a lot of people think work experience says more about what you can do and in many cases that’s true, having that “piece of paper” is essential for certain careers. You can’t fill your resume with cleaning jobs (like I have) and then apply for your dream job as a nurse or a lawyer just because “you’re the most reliable and hardest working person”. I also feel encouraged to study because I live in a developed country and I can afford it – and more importantly – as a woman I should make the most of actually being allowed to study and become whatever I want. Another reason is that I did very well in school and therefore I should use my brain and the knowledge I already have. I know if I want to I can become anything I set my mind on.
But then why am I not doing that? What would I say to the ones possibly disappointed in me?
Travelling is also a great choice. I could be wrong, but if you think I’m stupid for choosing to travel I’d guess you never tried it yourself. I’ve grown up so much in the past 2 years travelling and done more living than I did in the whole 20 years before. You face new challenges that make you stronger, more mature and more independent. You meet new people who can help you open up and become more tolerant, considerate and respectful of others. You’ll see and experience things you’d never even dreamed of before, some will make you want to travel forever while other things will teach you to appreciate what you’ve got at home. And knowing you were able to do this will make you more confident that you can do almost anything. These qualities will all be worth so much in everything your future might lead to. I know for a shy and quiet person like me travelling has done me the world of good and I have accomplished things I never thought I would. If you have a smart and creative mind, travelling can also open up for you a completely new world of job opportunities.
I know it’s sensible to have a degree under your belt and I know “the clock is ticking” to have babies, if that’s what you want. I know it’s good to think of the future and make some plans and it’s also important to prioritize. And I’m doing both. Exploring the world is very important to me and I don’t want to look back and regret not doing enough of it. So I’ve chosen to do that now, before I possibly commit myself to several years of studying, getting into debt and eventually raising a family. I always planned to study and I still say that I will. But it doesn’t have to be right now. Travelling and doing several different jobs has actually helped me get a better idea of what I might like to be when I “grow up”. But what travelling has taught me more than anything is that you can’t plan too much. I know I’m only young and I might wake up later on and realize I should have done things differently. But that can happen to anyone, no matter what choices they made. Of course I don’t know everything and I can’t tell you what to do. All I know is that I’ve never been happier and that’s what I’ve chosen to listen to. And I hope that’s what everyone is doing.