“You can be anything that you want to be.”
“Everyone could travel if they wanted – people simply choose not to.”
These are just two of many statements that bother me on various lifestyle and travel blogs alike. Life paths and futures become reduced to arbitrary “choices” in a single sentence. Judgement on those who cannot seem to live their dreams is heavily placed.
“If you don’t do it, it’s your fault,” we tell others. “I have no time for people who blame their problems on everyone and everything else.”
I believe in self-empowerment and the power of positive thinking. But nowadays we often reduce outcome to nothing but personal choice, and I wonder if these kinds of sweeping statements actually hinder people from achieving what they want to out of life because they become swamped by the world’s problem.
I’m not religious, but one of my key philosophies in life is:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
You will sink into misery if you don’t have the courage to fight for your dreams and don’t possess autonomy, but equally you will lose your mind if you keep trying and failing to change things that are out of your control.
Life is complicated.
Our life paths and decisions are affected by both ourselves and the context in which we live. It is actually this very belief that inspired me to embark on my journey of self-discovery abroad: it was a journey of self but I needed a different context in which to make it.
Why do people say that they want to travel but never travel?
I think that much of the time people like the idea of traveling, but when it comes down to it there are other things in life they value more. This may be a steady job, the stability of home and routine, or their family.
However, what we must understand is that even if they’re not truly happy and content, if their life is the only vision of the Good Life that they have ever known and worked towards, it’s hard – if not impossible – to let it go.
It’s not a coincidence that many travellers take the leap after a cataclysmic event such as a breakdown, a redundancy, a firing from work or a life crisis.
I wanted to travel for as long as I could remember and I spoke about it seriously when I was 17, but looking back there was no other time I could realistically have left than when I did.
There are circumstances that make long-term travel unattainable: children, a long-term partner, mortgages and debts, sickly family members, low income… All of these things make a Round The World Trip less likely. If socio-economic positioning and cultural expectations were figments that we could blow down with our thoughts and hard work, then we wouldn’t have such entrenched poverty cycles and we would have a far more fluid society.
Equally, there is the issue of personality and mental health. I generally wouldn’t recommend that someone with chronic anxiety go traveling alone before they can at least remotely cope with home first.
My going traveling is no accident, but it definitely only really happened because:
1. My 8 month long internship reached its end. I graduated from university with a good degree but no firm career path, and I had no first steps on a career ladder to sacrifice. My internship finished and that was that.
2. There was no boyfriend on the scene.
3. I was living at home with my parents and my rent was next to nothing so I was able to save.
4. I was sick of the UK and the pressures of being a new graduate. I was tired of everything and there was nowhere that I was inspired to live. I also strongly rejected the pressure to “be somebody” and I wanted to remove myself from the graduate rat race.
In short, I had a quarter-life crisis and went on a mission to solve it. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going traveling. It was like the perfect alignment of circumstances with my dreams, desires and hard work.
Please chase your dreams
Remember that you can’t take the world upon yourself. You can’t always move mountains. We learn, grow and adapt as best we can.
Sometimes we affect change and move that mountain, in others we walk around it or maybe even simply appreciate where we are in the here and now.
“You might not be able to be anything that you want to be. But you can be the best that you can be. The trick is realising that that is what you wanted all along.”
PS: Make sure you read the rest of my Feel Good Blogging entries.
This post is the final part of my 7 Day Feel Good Blogging Challenge. Hurrah! Today’s challenge was to write something controversial in my genre. As most lifestyle bloggers like to give highly individualistic advice, I feel that my emphasis on paying due attention to context may turn some heads. I hope you found it useful!