Being back in my hometown for the last week or so, I have infinitely been asked about my post-grad plans. Though this is the question all newly graduated people dread, I don’t hold it against the asker. They are curious and that question makes sense. What has been more striking are the reactions I get when I tell people that I am taking the next three months to travel around Costa Rica. People are surprised, supportive, excited, condescending, confused, slightly amused, jealous and joyful. I’ve gotten them all.
One reaction, however, is a constant: “Now is the time to do it, because someday you won’t be able to.”
I want to use this post to not only refute that statement, but to do so by explaining my reason for traveling post-grad. (I have also included some photos from my travels during my semester studying in Spain.)
To start, I am not here to blab about my wanderlust. Or to tell you all about how I just don’t belong in the United States. Or how I would rather live life out of a backpack and abandon all of my earthly possessions for a life of travel. Yes, I LOVE to travel. It is one of my favorite things to do. I am, however, aware of the privilege that allows me to do so. I am not going to pretend that I possess some sort of unearthly calling to wander the world. Or that money does not matter. I have the circumstances that allow me to reprioritize my finances accordingly. For that I am grateful.
I am funding this particular adventure with the money I saved working two jobs and building a photography business. It was certainly a priority.
With that said, I feel that I can share my reasons for traveling post-grad.
I am venturing to Costa Rica this fall because I want to set the tone for the rest of my life. By viewing this trip as the first page of my next chapter, not the last page of my previous chapter, I am proving to myself that I do not need to follow the expected trajectory. In my case, that expectation is that I frantically send out job applications during my last semester, graduate, move wherever a stable employer tells me to, and work.
Obviously, that path works for some people. And that is awesome. For me, however, it did not feel natural.
This ties in to the comment that I receive from everyone and their dog: I better do this now because I will never have the opportunity again. The underlying message: Soon you’re going to get a job, wake up for that job every morning, come home tired, get married, pop out a few kids, buy a mini van, get a mom bob, spend all your money on diapers and manicures. You’re going to do this for the rest of your life because that’s what you are supposed to do, you set of ovaries you.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get what I am saying here. Again, that path works for some people. It’s just not for me. I want a life full of what I know gives me joy. Not what society tells me will give me joy. This does not mean that pain, sadness and frustration will not be part of the equation too. But I want to fill my life with people, actions and places that feed my soul. This could, someday, include a partner and children. Yet, I trust that those people will enter my life when their souls’ paths mesh naturally with mine.
I understand that I will always have bills and responsibilities. Of course I will. I am a human adult. That does not mean, however, that I have to mold a conventional life around these responsibilities. That also does not mean that these responsibilities will rip my life of all joy and pleasure. Who decided that? Other humans make travel a constant part of their lives. Why can’t I?
So, what comes next? What do I do when I get back?
Well, I am going to take a deep breath, reflect, make a list of places I want to live and start applying for jobs. I have a deadline for when I will move to said mystery place. I’m going to take these next steps calmly.
Is it going to be scary?
Is it going to be unpredictable?
Is it going to be possibly not ideal?
But I’m going to be fine. I’m going to be fine because I’ve opened this next chapter with adventure. I am choosing joy. I am choosing energy.
Thank you, dear friends, for taking the time to read this little essay. I would love to read your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
All my love,