I think I’ve known since I was a child I was meant to travel and live a nomadic lifestyle. There was the time, on my 5th birthday, where I distinctly remember running my fingers across the globe my grandmother bought for me and asking my mother if she was from the town we lived in and if she had lived there her entire life. She told me that yes, although she had moved a few times for short periods, she had essentially always lived in the same place. I don’t remember why I thought her answer seemed so strange, I only remember looking at the globe beneath my fingertips and feeling that inherent sense of wanting to get out there and explore.
A decade later and I’m sitting with my aunt on the couch in my parent’s’ living room, talking about my plans for life after highschool graduation. She wants to know where I’m planning on going to college and I tell her I’m actually thinking about taking a year off to travel. (At the time I had no idea gap years were so popular in Europe and Australia). Immediately she said this was a terrible idea and explained if I didn’t go to college after highschool I would never go at all. And just like that any notion of an alternative route in life was immediately discarded.
Well, that’s the funny thing about expectations – they often never go the way we think they will and we often learn we should have never had any expectations to begin with. Through various twists and turns (my father dying, ending up on my own at 16) I didn’t end up at college until a bit later (21) than most people. I spent so much of my young adulthood traveling farther and farther away from everyone and everything I knew in hopes that the road would cure me of my broken family and bad dreams. Then, later, after college, continuing to travel because when you’ve been doing something for so long sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense to you.
Traveling didn’t make much sense to my family and neither did my choice of occupation (writer vs. programmer – what I actually went to school for). My life was (has been? still is?) a series of explanations, of disagreements, of phone calls that end in hang ups and tears, of large, heavy sighs that weigh on the shoulders (and mind) late into the night. Choosing to live a life with few belongings in a career that doesn’t make a lot of money in exchange for (what I feel is) personal freedom and true fulfillment is worth it to me in the long run. There are days where I am tired and weary and staring a blinking cursor in the face until 3 a.m. and wondering what the hell I’m doing. There are plenty of those days. But. I am happy.
So, here’s the thing. Maybe your thing isn’t travel. Maybe your thing isn’t writing. Maybe it isn’t music or painting or any sort of creative field whatsoever. Maybe you come from a family of lawyers and all you want is to pursue social work. Perhaps your lifelong dream has been to build libraries in Bolivia or champion for human rights in developing countries. We all have our own thing inside of us, driving us to do something, to do more, to be more than whatever it is we are today, right now, in this moment. It’s okay to live a life other people don’t understand. It’s okay to not live up to other people’s expectations of you. They // them will always be out there in some form or another, whether it’s your parents, your peers, your boss, those people who simply just don’t get it. And they don’t get you.
When you let go of other people’s preconceived notions of your life and focus on your truth – whatever that may be – your life becomes sweeter and fuller than ever before. You must learn how to feed yourself, you must learn how to pay your bills, yes, but after that the world opens up. You know there’s something else out there for you and you know this is not the only thing you’re capable of. You own your own story. And shouldn’t you make it one of the best stories you’ve ever read?