why i am traveling post-grad

 

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A 20-year-old me in a garden in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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.

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The view from the Spanish Steps in Rome.

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?

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Beautiful beaches in Lagos, Portugal.

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?

Yes.

Is it going to be unpredictable?

Yes.

Is it going to be possibly not ideal?

Yes.

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.

 

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The sun sets over Granada, Spain.

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,

Emma

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A cloudy day in Paris.
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21 thoughts on “why i am traveling post-grad

  1. Beautifully said. And that sums it up. It’s a great opportunity & your right why do you have to follow the manual were allowed including you to go off the beaten path & explore our world. Learn & grow from it. Only makes you a better/stronger person. And just think of all the beautiful pics you’ll have to share & conversations to be had…now as a mom just be careful will you lol. Love you 🙂

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  2. Your choice to travel and see parts of the world and who the people are in it sounds very familiar! I was always understanding of Linda’s choice to do the same. Mainly because Joe and I were jealous. In our day travel meant going to Canandagua. So we traveled through Linda’s experiences and pictures. However, we did finally begin to travel but it was when we were retired and bought our travel van and away we would go for 5 to 6 weeks. Spain and Italy became a reality but the USA was our priority. Twice cross country and once from the East to the West through Canada and the Rockies. Then 5 weeks in Nova Scotia. So you see we, too, had the lust for travel. So our question to you would be not “why” but “why not”. Unfortunately the world is not as safe as yesteryear so please, please be cautious and if it doesn’t feel right, think and don’t due it!! Love you and we will be following all your ventures. Aunt Dolores

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    1. Wow, Aunt Dolores! Your travels sounds breathtaking. I would love to hear more about them the next time I see you! Do you have any photos? Sending all my love to you and Uncle Joe! ❤

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  3. I couldn’t have said it better, my dear Emma.

    “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.”

    You are choosing to be open minded. You are choosing to have your own schedule, to be the owner of your life, instead of allowing outside influences to control you. And you realize that to some extent, you can’t completely control what is going to happen, but you’ve accepted that and you’re willing to roll with it.

    This, in my opinion, is the best way to live. And you can live like this for as long as you like, Em. There is no expiration date. Only the ones you set for yourself.

    I am so proud of you. Keep being you ❤

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  4. Emma! Have tons of fun and trust your gut! I hope your travels inspire you and bring you joy.

    I’m going to go out and get a mom bob tomorrow. Woot!

    Suzi (with well wishes from John and Oscar)

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  5. Hello emma, sorry in advance for the length of this comment. I too have just graduated and am now frantically and miserably applying for jobs. It’s a soul destroying experience . The end. I met my boyfriend who’s Dutch in the last semester of university so on top of job applications I’ve been working my ass off helping him with visa applications also a nightmare btw. I am lucky, I don’t have student loans, but I also don’t have an excess of money to travel. I might have to go to Holland to see him as his paperwork is going to take a long time and he will have to go back. I don’t know why I’m rambling, but thank you for reading. It’s just been a shitty few months lol, but I liked your writing and will check out more . Xo Hannah

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    1. Hi Hannah! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, and for your kind words. I took a peek at your blog and it seems like you have a good head on your shoulders, and a beautiful love with your boyfriend. Remember that all struggle is temporary. In your case, I am sure there is something wonderful on the other side. Hang in there! ❤

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      1. Thank you!! I really think he’s it, but I’m trying to have faith and breathe and accept. Thanks for the reply and for the peek at my story. I can’t wait wait to read more of yours, you write beautifully xo

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  6. Emma, what a pleasure to read your post. I’ve always known you’ve had something very special. Your mom has always talked about your amazing spirit. You will go, see and do so much more than many of us ever will. I couldn’t be happier for you!

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  7. You go girl!! Life is meant to be lived, you have the right idea. Always follow your dreams and be safe😘😘❤️❤️

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  8. Have an exquisitely wonderful adventure, Emma, in one of my favorite places on this earth! Not only is CR beautiful but a country that has as it’s 3 main priorities, peace, education and environment, is as about as good as it gets in my opinion. I hope you make it up to Monteverde and maybe visit the Cloud Forest School there…I can only imagine the amazing portraits you’d make of all the sweet children! You could probably work out some type of trade with them! http://cloudforestschool.org You’re doing it right, girl. I’m totally on board. Travel now, later and always! It will always fit into your life if you have the intention. My friends took their entire family to go live and teach at the CFS. I have others that are about to leave for Singapore for 3 years with their young boys. Since graduating college our 25 year old daughter has lived in Panama, CA and Spain. You have an open invitation to come visit us and hang out at our farm for a bit in beautiful northwest WA when you return to the US and are exploring where to land (though spring-early fall are much nicer!). Can’t wait for your posts and pics from CR! Travel with wild abandonment and joy but be safe and smart too! Linda

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda! I can’t wait to share my travel stories with you. ❤ I am going to be looking at the west coast for my next move, so I will certainly be in touch about that.

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