This summer it’s precisely 10 years since I graduated school. And yes, it does make me feel old. It also made me think about what expectations I had for my life all that time ago, and in what way they have – or have not – come true.
Because of this ten-year anniversary I recently reconnected with some old friends from school. Many of them I hadn’t talked to in years, and it was exciting to catch up with them and learn about their lives. Turns out, quite a number of them got married already, or planning to get married soon. One has kids. They all have a jobs, a career that sounds like it’s going well for them.
And then, there’s me. Single. Jobless for several months after leaving my nine-to-five last December – although just now my freelance career is starting to get some traction.
Still, compared to the others I felt like my life was very different. It’s a long way from all those adult things like marriage and founding a family and having a steady job. And I don’t really know if that’s ever going to change.
I struggled with that realisation. Which didn’t make any sense, because I’m happier with my life right now than I have been for a long time. I don’t want the conventional house-job-family thing, at least not right now.
And I think travel is mostly to blame for that.
The life I pictured when I left school
When I think back to my graduation ten years ago, and how I pictured my life back then, my ideas were a lot more conventional. They included a husband, kids, a house, a career. Not necessarily in that order. I didn’t think I’d have it all after ten years, but I was sure I’d have at least some of it.
But travel has always played an important part in my plans as well. It was always clear to me that before I settled down and lived that conventional life I would spend a few nomadic years living and working around the world. It was something I already wanted to do as a kid. It’s what led me to take off to Australia for a working holiday before starting my Master’s degree, and what made me study abroad for one semester.
The point is, however, that 10 years ago I thought that at this point in my life I would be reaching the end of my nomadic life and start settling down. I thought I would have an awesome career that allowed me to work abroad for a few years, and now I would come back and approach the whole family thing.
Needless, to say, that hasn’t happened.
The life I have
I didn’t spent the last few years travelling. I spent them working an office job that paid the bills, but that I never really enjoyed. The whole time I was there I felt like I was waiting for my life to begin, to finally get out and do the things I always dreamed of.
My dreams were never about settling down, they were about seeing the world. Yes, family and kids featured in there, but more because I thought that’s just kind of what you do. The travel part was always the more important one.
Only since I left my job and started working as a freelancer this year, I have felt that my life is finally starting to take the path it should be on. This decision means that my nomadic life is not coming to a close. It’s only just beginning.
Travel is an integral part of me
I have realised today that my wanderlust is not a phase, something I do for a while and then return to “normal” life. Whatever “normal” life even means.
I’m not saying I’ll never settle down, buy a house, have a family. I may do all those things one day, or I may not. But either way, I won’t just stop travelling once that happens. There are many ways of living the travel life after all, even if you’re not on the road full-time.
I’m happy for all my past classmates that have found their partner, their home, their family. It sounds like they have arrived in the life they wished for. But the life I want isn’t about arriving somewhere, it’s about going on the journey.
Although I don’t know what the future holds, I know that at the moment I have no wish to settle down in any way. Right now, being single and free from a corporate job sounds like the best thing in the world. So I really need to stop feeling like it’s somehow wrong not to want what so many others have. Instead, I’m embracing my inner traveller and see where it leads me.
What impact does travel have on your life? How have your life goals changed over time? Are you happy with the way it plays out, or do you wish you were somewhere else? Share in the comments!