“You’ve got adventure in your blood, my dear. Don’t let anything ever tame it.”
This snippet of a conversation has stayed with me for years, always present, in the back of my mind. It rewards me when I’m on long-distance bus rides through Laos, or as I seek out foreign destinations in my spare time. Although most recently, I’ve been finding my thoughts drifting back to that conversation as I sit at my desk, nine to five, Monday to Friday, working away at a job I genuinely enjoy.
I’ve always known I’ve wanted to travel, been perfectly OK to drop my life and see the world. That is how I knew I would measure my fulfillment and gauge my happiness. Yet it’s only been recently since I’ve come home and been presented with another option.
It’s the struggle of every 20-something-year-old. Do I stay or do I go? Do I start a career or see the world? Do I fall in love with someone or fall in love with something, somewhere else?
When asked by an anxious young man about whether he should or should not get married, Socrates said, “You will regret it either way.”
Which is to say, there is not one right thing to do, and the one constant aspect of life as a 20-something is we are never fully sure of ourselves, never fully satisfied. We let ourselves get pulled in so many different directions, start down so many different roads and spend so much time deliberating on whether we’ll regret our decisions in the time to come.
Our generation is one of ambivalence. Defined as the uncertainty caused by the inability to make a choice, or by the simultaneous desire to do two conflicting things, people our age seem to be stuck at the crossroads.
Yet, we’re expected to do it all. We are expected to be successful. We are expected to make mistakes. We are expected to travel. We are expected to settle down. We’re expected to expect a lot from ourselves.
These expectations, whether they’re in favour of freedom or stability are what leads people to become complacent, stalled by their own indecisiveness.
And it drives us insane.
I believe that the lust or thirst in life – whether it be for travel, adventure, or fulfillment – is like hunger. If you don’t feed it, it will grow and grow until it consumes all your other thoughts and actions, until you are forced to satiate it.
Sometimes I drown in waves of panic, sitting at my desk, wondering what the hell I’m doing as I scroll through friends’ feeds as they gallivant around South America, Africa and Asia.
Adventure called and I feel like I’m standing it up.
I’ll question every decision I’ve made since I’ve been home until my thoughts are jumbled and I’m left feeling empty and unsatisfied.
I don’t want to settle. My insatiable hunger to see the world is as inexorable as it is unavoidable. But there is a part of me that is envious of those who have made a name for themselves, who have found long-term love and who seem to be fast-tracked for a perfect life.
Much like Peter Pan, people tell me that I’m afraid to grow up, meet life head-on or that I travel because I’m running away.
Some of us are hard-wired for a stabilized life full of potential for continuous growth. Others are driven mad by the idea and instead, seek a different kind of growth, more sporadic yet no less fulfilling.
Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, there will be that pivotal moment which makes you question everything. You’ll toss and turn and wake up at 3 am in cold sweats trying to figure out if you’re wasting your time pursuing one dream over another.
I usually forget the second half of that pivotal conversation, where I was told that although I should always follow my passion, whichever path our wayward minds lead us down, we’ll always find something to look forward to. It’s about finding the enjoyment in the possibilities that have been presented to us, no matter how long or short-term they are.
Until then, Melatonin is well-known for helping you sleep.
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Originally published in Chasing Sunrise