What creates this ideology?
Is it ignorance? Hopefulness? Does it stem from the privileged? Are we so spoiled now that we expect consistency from this world? Or are we too afraid to consider the alternative?
As a young adult in my early 20s, I can vouch for truth in what I will call “comfort-shaming.” Under a new age of technology comes a pressure for my generation and those younger to “live our best lives,” to try everything, to date everyone, and to take advantage of all these resources we are fortunate enough to have. Our parents try to save us from making the same mistakes as they did. Instagram fills our newsfeed with seemingly perfect couples who travel the world. Older generations tell us to take our time and enjoy a life without commitments while we still can.
I have to admit, I used to view others my age, including myself, from this same perspective. I have judged peers for settling down early and questioned the value their decisions would bring to their life. In the past few years, I have studied in London, traveled in Europe and across the US, and am currently teaching English in Thailand. All of these experiences have benefited me in most ways that I cannot even recognize in myself. But if I will be completely honest with you, I don’t believe any of it really matters.
I once heard a story of a man who’s life revolved around his career. One day, everything that he was working towards came to fruition and he was at his height of financial success. Only after this moment of “winning” did he feel the emptiness of it all, and he came to realize for the first time that he was lacking true meaning in his life. He was lacking a partner to share it all with. He was lacking love.
I believe this need lies at every human core, whether it be in the form of a romantic partnership, friendship, or in family. This is the most important thing to us. As Celine said in the movie Before Sunrise “I believe if there’s any kind of God, it wouldn’t be in any of us. Not you or me, but this little space in between.”
With every new place I travel comes the realization that happiness is not so easily found. “It’s not where you are, but who you’re with” is not only an extremely accurate quote but a mantra to live by. If that doesn’t please you, substitute it for, “It’s not where you are, but who you are.”
If you are living a comfortable and happy life, please never feel guilty about not taking risks or traveling the world. If you are fine with working a 9-to-5, only to come home and crash on the couch, then please keep doing your thing! If you are unhappy, you may want to go out into the world and explore, but please know that traveling on its own will not heal you or automatically and naturally make you into this amazingly spirited superhuman. There is so much that travel bloggers do not show.
Try to tune out the voices of social media, of your friends and family, and of those who are older and “wiser.” What do you want? What will truly make you happy? If this is your last day on Earth, how do you want to spend it? There is not one same answer for all of us.