Everyone that knows me would agree that I love to travel, but I wasn’t always like this. I didn’t always throw caution to the wind and book flights to strange and so called ‘dangerous’ areas of the world without giving it a second thought. The words ‘routine’ and ‘9-to-five-job’ did however always send an abnormally large shiver down my spine and I was one to systematically avoid any long term monetary commitments that would tie me down.
Just like any other regular teenager I was given a set of rules to follow and if I was to copy and paste these correctly I was promised the ‘job of my dreams’ and there I was to work…for pretty much the rest of my life. Huh? That’s what I get? I go to school, then to university AND then my reward is to spend 70% of my week working until I’m 65? Jesus, that sounds a bit rough.
“There has to be a way around this” I can vividly remember thinking to myself during my final years of high school. Socially, I felt generally uneasy when asked the question “So, what are you going to study at uni? or “What are you going to be?” For a lot of people this seems like an easy question to answer. They find something that they’re interested in or passionate about and they do it, they enjoy it, but for me this was troubling.
What could I do with 70% of my time for the next 45 or so years?
This is how I roughly translated any question put forward to me about my career aspirations and although I questioned how the progression of life ‘just was’, I felt little trapped and went along with the usual social expectations that keep you in line in order to feed the system. What could I do anyway? I was only a naive teenager.
For a few years after high school I was caught in limbo. For a lot of people picking their type of career is a natural progression, a thought process that leads to an easy decision. For me, It was much easier to work a full time job knowing I was somehow working towards a life I didn’t need a holiday from. Staying interested in one particular subject for an extended period of time seemed unfathomable, but I was determined to find a way of life that inspired both happiness and most of all freedom.
In the summer of 2009 I went backpacking through Europe. It was my very first taste of true freedom. The ability to do what I wanted whenever I wanted. I was trying new delicious food, I was meeting hundreds of interesting people from around the world and learning about our fascinating cultural differences. This was it. It was exactly what I had been looking for.
Although I was having the time of my life, I learned very quickly that this type of freedom comes at a price. Not a price anywhere near that of which a tour company would quote you, but still a sizable chunk of my savings was disappearing each and every week. It was minuscule drop of worry in an ocean of happiness.
To this day I ask myself this question on a daily basis: Would I rather be having things or doing things? From my financial perspective I can only really afford to do one of these. I am choosing extended travel through central and south America over a new car. I’m choosing traveling to India for six months at the end of the year over putting down a mortgage payment on a house. I’ve decided that a few months on a foreign beach is worth more to me than the latest iphone. I’m choosing experiences over possession.
Why? Because I can’t see myself being happy any other way.