Yeah, I'm a treat.
I thought I was running away from everything: from facing The Real World and getting a 9-5 job that I would be at for the next few decades. From the "American Dream" - I was now in my 20s, and my parents got married and had kids in their 20s, so if I didn't find someone soon, then I was destined to be alone forever. From living in the rainy Pacific Northwest, a great place for some people but definitely not the place for me.
I was 21 years old and fresh out of college. All of those "What are you doing after graduation?" questions that had constantly been thrown at me and all of my friends senior year were not only getting redundant, but when my answer was, "I don't know yet," I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I felt like I should have a plan.
Since preschool, our plan was always to get up every day, go to school, then go to college, and then at 21 or 22 years of age, we're done. "What next?" is the scariest and most intimidating question that looms in our minds as we edge toward graduation day, especially when we no longer have a plan.
All I knew was that I wanted to travel. I was aching to get back to Italy, where I studied abroad one summer. I was aching to see more of Europe. I was trying to come up with all these bazaar plans to save money after graduation so I could go travel around Europe for a few weeks that fall.
But then I found a job in Italy that started in August. And then I found a summer job in Washington, DC and New York. Things were falling into place. But I still felt like I was running away from the life that society expects recent college grads to do.
Turning my back on the traditional 9-5 work day and getting out of Seattle was intimidating (especially since where I went to college, everyone and their grandma moves to Seattle for a 9-5 job). I didn't know anyone in DC or New York. I didn't know anyone in Europe. And I had only spent six weeks in Europe prior; how was I going to last five months?!
These types of questions floated in the back of my mind...but a number of exciting ones were at the forefront: Will seeing Matilda on Broadway be as good as Jersey Boys? (Well, it was different of course, but it was definitely amazing). Will it be hard to communicate with the international students? (Not at all. They're all fluent in English and it makes me wish I could speak at least three languages, too). Is the pasta in Italy going to taste just as good? (Yes, it was just as delicious). Will I get to sunbathe on the beaches of Positano? (Of course, that was the first trip I led for work, and most of my time was spent by the beach). Is Oktoberfest really that cool? (Yes, YES it is). Will I be able to go somewhere "exotic," like Morocco? (Well, Morocco didn't work out, but Turkey did). Will my new coworkers and I become friends? (Absolutely, and they are people I'll never forget).
I wasn't running away from life, I was running toward it. Toward new experiences. I was running toward LIFE. It was amazing, it was spectacular, and it made me happy. I found joy and happiness in exploring new places, and knew that working in Europe wasn't the final fix to getting rid of my travel bug - it was the beginning to creating a life of adventures.
Now that I'm back in the States, I've moved to Arizona (Sun! Warmth! No daily overcast skies!). I'm working full time and I'm okay with that. I prioritize travel whenever I can, while (trying) to be responsible with my money. Balancing both travel and work can be exhausting, but to me, it's worth it. Because travel brings me joy. And I wouldn't have experienced the joy that travel gave me if I hadn't taken the leap to travel in the first place - and run toward life.
Find what brings you joy. Whatever it is, I urge you to do it.