THE BEST STORY YOU'VE EVER READ
I think I’ve known since I was a child I was meant to travel. As a child I distinctly remember running my fingers across the globe my brother had and asking my mother if she was from the town we lived in and if she had lived there her entire life. She told me that yes, although she had moved a few times for short periods, she had essentially always lived in the same place. I don’t remember why I thought her answer seemed so strange, I only remember looking at the globe beneath my fingertips and feeling that inherent sense of wanting to get out there and explore.
A decade later and I’m sitting with my aunt and family on the couch in my parent’s living room, talking about my plans for life after high school. She wants to know where I’m planning on going to university and I tell her I’m actually thinking about taking a year off. Immediately they said this was a terrible idea and explained if I didn’t go to university after high school I would never go at all. And just like that any notion of an alternative route in life was immediately discarded. Two years later, and here I am, preparing that very year. I wouldn't say they're all entirely convinced, but they know how stubborn I am, and that now my heart is set on it, I'd find a way of going no matter what.
See, that’s the funny thing about expectations – they often never go the way we think they will and we often learn we should have never had any expectations to begin with. Through various twists and turns, I've spent so much of my young adulthood traveling farther and farther away from everyone and everything I knew in hopes that the road would cure me of my wanderlust. Now as I prepare for life after school, for me continuing to travel makes sense, because when you’ve been doing something for so long sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense to you.
Travelling so far doesn't make much sense to my family. My plans to follow a degree that doesn't automatically lead to a job worries them. My life is a series of explanations, of disagreements, of phone calls that end in hang ups and tears, of large, heavy sighs that weigh on the shoulders (and mind) late into the night. Choosing to live a life with few belongings or follow a career that doesn’t make a lot of money in exchange for (what I feel is) personal freedom and true fulfilment is worth it to me in the long run. Already there are days where I am tired and weary and staring a blinking cursor in the face until 3 a.m. as I read about entrance requirements and worry that I've failed all my exams, and it hits me that I won't be starting uni with my friends and I will be on my own. I wake up at 2 a.m. just to wonder what the hell I’m doing all of this for. There are plenty of those days. But, I'm happy.
So, here’s the thing. Maybe your thing isn’t travel. Maybe your thing isn’t writing. Maybe it isn’t music or painting or any sort of creative field whatsoever. Maybe you come from a family of lawyers and all you want is to pursue social work. Perhaps your lifelong dream has been to build libraries in Bolivia or champion for human rights in developing countries. We all have our own thing inside of us, driving us to do something, to do more, to be more than whatever it is we are today, right now, in this moment. It’s okay to live a life other people don’t understand. It’s okay to not live up to other people’s expectations of you. They will always be out there in some form or another, whether it’s your parents, your peers, your boss, those people who simply just don’t get it. And they don’t get you.
When you let go of other people’s preconceived notions of your life and focus on your truth – whatever that may be – your life becomes sweeter and fuller than ever before. You must learn how to feed yourself, you must learn how to pay your bills, yes, but after that the world is yours. You know there’s something else out there for you and you know this is not the only thing you’re capable of. You own your own story. This is your story. Shouldn’t you make it one of the best stories you’ve ever read?