I’ve never gotten cold sweats in the middle of the night. I don’t wake up screaming or clutching my sheets. I forget my dreams seconds after I wake up — but at this junction in my life, the new house and white picket fence dream is an absolute nightmare to me.
This is not an attack on the institutions of family and marriage. They are necessary, and when done right, they are beautiful and inspirational. But I can’t help but wrestle with one specific question when it comes to these two topics. That question is “Why?”
Why ask her to marry you if you aren’t ready? Why tell him yes if you aren’t in love? Why dig yourself into a debt hole as soon as you get that degree? Why spend all of that money on new furniture? Why does society (schools, books, movies, tv shows, parents, friends, the government etc) try to convince us that the formula to a “happy and fulfilling” life is; go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house, save for retirement, retire, THEN live whatever’s left of your life to the fullest? It doesn’t add up.
Why not use your youthful energy to travel and truly live? Why not use those savings to pay for experiences instead of a mortgage? Why not spend money on plane tickets to new and vibrant places, memories, new friends, great conversations, delicious meals, sights, sounds and wonders, instead of (insert exorbitant amount of money here) wedding bands and receptions? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
To be fair, there is a small number of couples that manage to pull it all off, in spectacular form at that. All the power and love to them. But they’re the exceptions to the rule, we’re not all unicorns. Most people are settlers. They settle for contentment when they could be overjoyed. They settle for routine when they could have change and excitement.
Do you really want to spend the rest of your short precious life doing morning commutes and paying bills for a house that you’re barely in because you’re too busy working to pay it off? I get it, I really do. The appeal and allure of consistency and “safety” are almost too good to resist. But don’t let fear of change or of the unknown paralyze you. Change is your friend. The unknown is only as such because you haven’t taken the time to become better acquainted with it, yet.
I was well on my way to the white picket fence finish line. I had a good job, a sweet ride, a new condo reserved in my name. I would’ve found a good girl with a similar education, a few of the same friends, and convinced her to marry me. The picture of the engagement ring would have gotten a bunch of likes and then my “friends” would have kept scrolling. My closer friends would have sent a text message or called inquiring about invitations. But I came to a fork in the road. I didn’t go “right,” I went left. And it was the best wrong turn I’ve ever made.
Along the way, I’ve encountered people that have caused me to rethink the purpose of everything I had previously worked so hard to attain, material goods mostly. These same people, through gentle interactions, not only forced me to critically evaluate and restructure my wants and “needs,” but my entire way of life.
I now know that the best place to be in life is not one extreme or the next, it’s somewhere in between. I’ve learned that things will not always go according to plan. In short, I’ve developed the ability to take life as it comes, roll with the punches, and I’ve stopped trying to control every single outcome down to the most minimal detail. I’ve learned to live.
However, there are some things in life, no matter how much you evolve, change and let go, that will always be a part of you. These things, whatever they may be, are a persons calling(s) in life. In my case, one of the feelings that I could never deter or shake was globe-trotting. Marriage and a new house isn’t on the menu at the moment. I’ll gladly have my fill of freedom with a side-order of everything the earth and this life has to offer.
You’re probably thinking; what if I don’t know what my calling in life is? My advice to you; do some traveling to figure it out. When you do solve that mystery, it will immediately become apparent. You’ll smile more, you’ll be more energetic, enthusiastic and it will all come naturally. Something happens, I don’t know when or how. There’s no textbook definition for it. But you’ll know.
The world belongs to all of us. In that sense, Earth is one big country. Pieces of your soul and personality are scattered across the globe, embedded in different people and places. It’s your duty to retrieve them. In a perfect world, we’d be born with all the answers, knowing exactly what we were destined to be and this blog post would be irrelevant. But the world is not perfect, it’s messy, and the mess is a mesmerizing one. No one particular location has been assigned to you as the end of your journey.
And so I ask you again; why? Why settle into a life of monotony when there’s an abundance of just about everything out there waiting to be unearthed? I’m no math wiz, but a 50 thousand dollar wedding could probably pay for a few flights. The hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars you’d spend on a “home,” car, insurance, kids and bills, could finance a few trips around the world, without traveling on a budget!
Do you, in your heart of hearts, sincerely believe that an overly expensive wedding and house grants you more happiness than diving into deep blue waters, hiking unknown trails, dancing the night away to foreign rhythms, conversing with fresh faces that share the same energy and lust for life as you? Think of all the great food and drinks you’re missing out on. Envision the sunsets and the sunrises.
Picture yourself at the top of a mountain that you climbed with your own two hands, feet and sweat. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you gently from thousands of miles away.
If you can do that and not have the urge to pack up and go, then maybe consistency, secureness, marriage and a big shiny new house IS for you. Maybe you are Mr or Mrs. Jones, if so, I wish you nothing but the best.
I’ve been engaged to traveling and exploring for a little while now, it was love at first flight. We’re terribly happy together, but we’re still working out the wedding invites. Traveling won’t leave me for another person. We won’t get bored and fall into a routine of complacency.
I pay for my experiences and then I own them outright, no interest rates. And they’re built to last, no earthquake, storm, tsunami or fire can destroy them. Can you say the same about your marriage and home?
Who knows? Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Maybe I’m too young and too enthusiastic (if such a thing exists). I suspect that I may eventually acquire some sense of “normalcy,” a wife, house and kids (in the physical form). But even if and when that happens, travel would have already tattooed an unforgettable impact on my life and will forever be one of my closest and most valued friends.