Legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said, “What I’m fascinated by is the beginning of your adult life, somewhere between 19 and 25. You have all of these doors in front of you, and you don’t know which door is going to be the important one.”
What they say is true. Your 20’s is the most definitive period of your life. You make decisions and set in stone choices which will ultimately alter the direction of your life forever. As I am nearing 24, I find myself standing in front of those very doors, confused and scared about which door to walk through: what career with which organization do I want to work for? Which city do I want to live in? Do I want children, and if so, when? (Unlike the others, this one has a time constraint). If I do decide to have kids, when do I want to be married by? Do I even want to get married? Who will I even get married to? But the biggest question consuming me at this very point in my life is this: Do I choose a life of routine and comfort, or do I choose a life of unknowns everyday traveling the world by myself?
As deeply excited and passionate I am about traveling, I find myself getting cold feet as my departure time looms closer. One year of culture shock and constant change. One year of being jobless, carless and homeless. One year of being away from the people I love. One year of living out of a suitcase and moving from one bed to the next. One year away from home comforts and the country I so love to call my own. One year of seeing my friends on Facebook get married, have babies and celebrate advances in their careers. My desire to see the world all seems so daring and brave but to be perfectly frank, it is also terrifying. Purposefully choosing adventure over routine and the comforts of life? It’s what people who are a little crazy do.
What made me suddenly develop this fear was an argument I had with a man I was dating. Weeks of him being distant and withdrawn weighed heavily on me, and when I brought it up he said to me, “Things would be very different if you weren’t leaving.” It dawned on me that I wasn’t just going to leave a blossoming romance. I was going to leave everything. It was going to be just me and my suitcase boarding that airplane, no one else. Call me dramatic, foolish, naïve – but that scares me and throws me into doubt. I read a quote today that said, “My heart swings back and forth between the need for routine and the urge to run.” I can’t think of anything more fitting to describe how I feel at this point in my life.
A part of me wants to take all the money I save this year, move down to Wellington (the city I want to call my home for good), and start a brand new life in a career I finally love. It would be so easy to, and no doubt, it would also bring me so much joy. But what I am beginning to realize in my heart is that the safest route in life is often the most unfulfilling. That great adventures are often accompanied by fear because in my experience, the scariest things to do are the most life-changing and worthwhile. And deep down I know that if I stay it will be the biggest regret of my life.
Having traveled to only seven countries so far, I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for anything. Traveling has and always will be my happy place, the place where my soul finds itself content. Yes, I am sacrificing and giving up a lot of things. But the reward I will be gaining in return? Worth its weight in gold.