"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - John F. Kennedy
08.08.2013 77 °F
Society's conventional path goes like this: finish high school, get into a great college AND graduate from said college, get a real job that pays well, meet the man/woman of your dreams and marry them ASAP, make babies, work until you're almost too old to enjoy your free time, then close your eyes for good. But what if that path isn't for you...most of us are practically afraid to think of that as an option. We're so conditioned to conformity that many people just bumble along in society's idea of "life." Have you ever contemplated whether or not you're academically inclined? Whether that real job makes you happy? How about slowing down and finding that one person for you instead of doing what "they" say on "their" timeline? Ever contemplated whether or not you'd make a good parent or maybe have a clear bill of health in your family before you procreate? Stop and think about how different society could be if people asked these questions of themselves before blindly following the conventional path...I don't know about you, but I get warm and fuzzy when I ponder that.
So let's look at my life so far: I did finish high school and I got into THE Florida State University. I graduated with two bachelors' degrees in three years, got a big girl job right after school, and tried the serious dating thing. And now let's look at me specifically: I don't enjoy school because I'm more of a hands-on learner. Don't get me wrong, I loved my time at FSU but I could've done without the whole class thing :-) I graduated in 2008 which was when the job market completely collapsed and getting a job was nearly impossible. So I decided to take the safe route and take a guaranteed job that wasn't exactly in a field I was interested in or even close to what I studied in school. Then I dated someone longer than I should've all because I felt I'd already invested too much. **Now for the disclaimer...I am very thankful to my mother for putting me through school. She had a great method in which she paid for everything in the beginning and slowly stopped paying for things so I could learn to manage money and work toward financial independence, all without $0.01 in student loans. I was offered a job out of nowhere from a very dear friend all because I'd sent my graduation announcement to him and his family and he knew I would need a job after school. And even though this job wasn't my cup of tea, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work with a great company and wonderful people for four and a half years, all the while making enough to live on my own, spend some cash, and have enough left over to put in savings. I believe everything fell into place exactly as it was supposed to as deemed by the Universe. But then I took a moment to just breathe and contemplate if this path was really for me.
I remember a few specific things that helped me come to my conclusion to travel. An extremely close friend of mine had always said he wanted to live in Thailand. I thought it was awesome that he knew exactly where he wanted to be in this big world while all I knew was that I wanted to see beyond my hometown. Then one day he tells me "I'm moving to Thailand." I was shocked because that's a bold move, sad because he'd be very very far from me, and ecstatic because HE WAS MOVING TO THAILAND! This gave me hope that I too could take the plunge and try something crazy like selling everything I own, quitting my job, and traveling to unknown places without a real plan. I also reflected on how happy I was and how I felt when I fell in love with Haiti on my first visit. I knew that foreign places and new things intrigued me and I had a thirst to experience more. And I spoke with multiple friends about their WWOOFing experiences and how traveling through WWOOFing was totally feasible. Then it hit me....I could absolutely do this!
I realized that I was my own person, not just a sheep following the herd. I decided to stand up for what I knew in my heart and, even though I sounded crazy when I told people about my life-altering decision, I knew through and through that I had to give this a shot. I think a few people thought it would be a phase for me, that I was just running my mouth and wouldn't really go. I think some people thought I'd fall on my face and come running home. But I will always remember the few that stood behind me from the moment I told them whether they asked me questions that I should consider before making my decision or telling me stories about their experiences where they did something wild and crazy and survived to tell about it.
And now here I am: 6 months and counting in beautiful Hawaii which is actually paradise. It's dusk and the clouds look magical. Music is playing, dogs are barking, and my farmily is spending time together even though we worked side-by-side all day on the farm. And my favorite part about this moment is that I've been barefoot for most of the day :-)
So with all that said, I beg of you to please please consider some of these things before you make life decisions or use them to spur a new life-altering decision. Deciding to leave everything I know to travel the world was the scariest decision I've ever made. But the reality is we don't have to follow society's conventional life path and veering off onto our own path is 1000 times worth it.
Embrace today as a new day, a new chance to live. [the sunrise from this morning]