If you know me, you know that I have a love for traveling. Not only do I enjoy it, but I think it’s so important for one to do. So much so that I was willing to make the effort to travel across the world on my own for five months. It’s what I work and save for and it’s money that I have never felt is wasted, but always worth it and well-spent. Traveling expands your mind and grows you as a person in the best kind of ways. You become less self-centered, increasingly accepting, more knowledgeable, and less directionally challenged. I’d encourage anyone to do it any chance they get. Don’t wait until you’re retired or until you hit the lottery because your health and your wealth are never promised (especially when playing in the lottery). It’s never too early or too late, but I do believe the best time to do it is when you are young. Summers during school and right after you graduate are perfect opportunities when you are still unattached from full time jobs or families and able to drop what you’re doing. It’s also a critical time in your life when you’re growing into yourself and building a foundation for the rest of your life.
In my last six months of travels I have had many people say something to me along the lines of, “Aren’t you supposed to be a broke college student just trying to survive? How are you able to go all these places?”. Well, the truth is that by no means am I rich, but I am strategic and resourceful. This summer I found a job/internship where I was working out West full time for two weeks at a time and had two weeks off at a time every month. I used the money I made in those two weeks working to travel to other states out West on my weeks off and then went back and did it again. I knew in the fall I wanted to live overseas for a chunk of time so after researching many options I decided to make profiles on a few Au Pair websites (nannying overseas), which lead me to where I am now. I am currently living with and working for a family in Melbourne, Australia where I make just enough money to spend on traveling and sightseeing while I’m here during my free time.
Living abroad can look glamorous to people at home when they are seeing your highlight reels on social media. However, what they’re not seeing is that life over here is just as real as it is back home. It has it’s ups and downs. I still have to wake up everyday and work and I’m still adjusting to not being a college student anymore, I’m just in a brand new place. Many people, including myself, would say the most difficult part of the transition from college to post-grad life is the change in or lack there of community. That goes for someone who moved half an hour away from their college town or someone who moved across the world from their college town. I fortunately came out of four years of having an incredible community of people around me at all times. They were all my age, doing almost exactly what I was doing every day. I knew how blessed I was then and I knew the difficulty that would come with the transition out of it, but knowing that did not necessarily prepare me for it or make it any easier.
During those four years in college I dreamt a lot about what post grad life would look like – where I wanted to live and travel and what I wanted to do. Being the adventureseeking dreamer I am, I couldn’t wait to get out of Georgia. I thought there were so many other better places in the world to live in and see. I thought that after college I probably wouldn’t live in the South East, much less Georgia. However, in my last six months of traveling God has taught me again and again that where I am located is never going to bring me joy and contentment. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with it. Since living in Australia many people have told me that I am living the best life right now, but I truly believe that I was living my best life when I was living in community doing what I loved, with people I loved. Yes, traveling is valuable and exciting and you may prefer to live one place over another, but when it boils down to it where you are on the map has very little influence on your life contentment. Rather, what does is what you’re doing and who you’re with. If you think about it, that’s why the majority of people move anywhere new is to do something meaningful to them or to be closer to people who are meaningful to them.
There’s this cliché saying we’ve all heard before..
“It’s not about where you are, but who you’re with.”
It’s one of those quotes that belongs in a Hallmark card that kind of makes you want to gag. Well after traveling across the world on my own for two months now, I’ve found that the reason it’s so cliché is because it’s true.
This past December I went on a road trip around Arizona, Utah, and Nevada with a best friend and another person who quickly became a best friend during that trip. It was hands down the best trip I’ve ever been on, which is saying a lot. We had an absolute blast together and there was never one dull moment. Five months later while working out West for the summer, I just so happened to return to many of the places we had visited on that trip. However, this time I was on my own and in all honesty, it just wasn’t the same. In fact, it was a let down for me. At first I figured it was because I had already been to those places before, but I later realized that the trip we went on was only so amazing because of the two people I was with. Traveling and sharing those experiences together with people I loved was the most valuable part of that trip, not where we were regardless of how cool the places we visited were.
So here I am now, with another tab open looking for jobs in the South East and even Georgia, which is something I did not expect from myself. This is a living testament that you should always be open to life paths changing, expect God to change your desires, and be very careful when you use the word “never” because God has a great sense of humor.
To put everything I have previously stated simply, God is teaching me a lot about contentment along with the value of those around you. True joy can only come from him and contentment comes from pursuing the ultimate purpose of living. As long as I’m glorifying him with what I’m doing and I’m with the ones I love, I think I can live just about anywhere.