I have always been a responsible person. I like to make lists of pros and cons in my head for most major decisions. I weigh options and imagine disasters. I also react badly to failure or the threat of failure. While I want to be that person who tries and tries, there are times that I have chosen the easier route when it matters.
As a freshman business major I struggled with calculus and statistics. I pushed through and passed both classes. I complimented myself for really trying and not giving up or dropping the classes. Then I did something weak. After a volunteer experience in a school, I decided to change my major. I enjoyed my day reading books to first graders, I felt a pull to make lives better in an inner city. Maybe I felt safe because kids have always liked me and I them. So I changed my major to early childhood education and then urban education and drifted my way through college.
Sure, I felt some passion when debating the difficulties of education in urban areas. Yeah, I enjoyed tutoring fifth graders, chatting with first graders. Being a big sister was pretty fun. Volunteering in a prison, that was awesome. But why wasn’t I more excited? More importantly, why didn’t I stop and ask myself this question?
Now here I am, a teacher in a low-income suburban town in NJ. And guess what? Now don’t freak out. I don’t know if I’m extremely passionate about it.
At 23, I feel this pressure to be extremely passionate about what I am doing. Friends, Facebook acquaintances, and thought catalog writers exude passion about being a 20-something and loving what you do and trying new things and moving to new cities. Are all these people being honest? Or are they saying what they think they should be feeling? Are they living Facebook lives separate from their own, thankless, exhausting, difficult jobs? Or am I doing something wrong?
These are the thoughts running through my head while I research voluntourism trips abroad. On the Cross-Cultural Solutions website, I’ve narrowed it down to Peru, Tanzania, or Malawi. It’s expensive. I tell myself I can’t spend that much money just on a trip. I might need it for a house in 5 years or a wedding. What if there’s an emergency?
Pros and cons start running through my head. Pro: adventure. Con: money. Pro: connect with the global community. Con: I don’t want to go alone. Pro: dream location. Con: what if there’s a natural disaster? Pro: learning about a country from the locals. Con: fear. Pro: practice my Spanish. Con: I’ll miss home.
Will my boyfriend want to go? He can’t afford it. Will he be mad if I go without him, considering we talked about going to Peru together? Can I go alone? I don’t think so. Who will come with me? Who can I convince to spend that kind of money?
It’s easy to write an article about “10 things every twenty-something should do” or “5 ways to get the most out of your twenty’s” or “Why your twenty’s are all about you.” It’s not easy following that advice. It is not easy convincing yourself to explore the world when there are so many cons. I learned long ago that its not the number of pros and cons, its that making the list allows your subconscious to speak, to hope for one outcome over another. And so “what’s another pro?” runs through my head as I search to skew the scales in favor of the pros. I’m still not sure I’m convinced.