Maybe you're doing things the wrong way around.
It’s said that our college years are the point in our lives when we are supposed to have fun. Sure ... study, take the tests — but also go to parties, experiment and take a few trips if we can.
Apparently, our early 20s are this little block of time in which we are allowed to “live.” Once that degree touches our fingertips, that’s the moment when we are expected to grow the hell up and get a job.
I looked around at my classmates during college and a couple of them went off to Cancun, flew down to Florida now and then or took the occasional road trip.
I always wanted more. If those golden years were my only time to really live, I wanted ALL of it ... all of the life I could squeeze in between tests, all-nighter study sessions and anxiety-ridden afternoons over not finishing my homework assignments.
I waitressed full-time and I saved every penny, in different envelopes marked, “Europe,” or “U.S Road Trip.”
Every summer, Christmas or spring break, I jetted off somewhere new, to try and see as much as possible before I had to start my career.
When graduation time did come around, and I had a couple months of summer to decompress, I was ready for the career path. I looked around; a lot, but I simply couldn’t find where it started.
It was as if the untamed brush had covered up the trail into the woods, leaving the hiker stumped on where to go next.
I didn’t have a career though, all I had was an overpriced piece of paper and a lack of direction. So, I followed my heart, even though I was taught from a young age not to do that.
I made the “wrong” choice by the wall of standards set around me, but I did it anyway and never looked back.
I took a teaching job, even though I didn’t know the first thing about it, and before I knew it, I was on a plane to China.
Teaching English was something that I never pictured myself doing, but there I was, in front of a classroom, explaining “present tense” and how to properly pronounce vowels.
Every day was new and exciting and I learned a new language while actually building a solid resume of skills. York School of English taught me more marketable skills on the actual job than I ever learned in college, and I was able to use those skills to find private and online students.
I was building a career AND still managed to travel all over China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
I met a ton of people as I taught in Thailand — many from the U.S, England and Australia, who had started businesses and blogs right from their computers. I followed in their footsteps and started freelancing.
I was making money, I had gained skills and it happened because I CHOSE to travel.
Eventually, I started looking for more experiences that would teach me something. I met friends who had volunteered with Maximo Nivel, and I followed in their footsteps too, learning how to help people and communities living in impoverished situations.
I traveled for more than three years after college, thinking that I was giving up the chance to have a career, when really, I was on the path I was looking for the whole time.
I just didn’t realize it. Without all of those years of travel and all of that experience, I may of never had any career prospects at all. Now, I have plenty of options, all of them involving things that I actually enjoy.
Travel or a career. Don’t choose between them. Because the truth is, the combination can produce something better than you ever could imagine.