I have seen my friends and family travel the world. Backpacking across Europe, staying in hostels in Brazil, exploring Africa, volunteering in India— I often feel like I am the only one who chose to stay put.
For me, it was a security thing. After graduation, my main goal was to become employed. I had spent four years prior being fed horror stories about my field: you will do internships, but you will not be hired afterwards; you will find jobs, but it will be doing something you hate; you will try and try and try for months, scouring the internet and handing out resumes like a religious extremest in Dundas Square, while your expectations slowly plummet, etc. Pleasant sentiments such as these coloured my expectations of my after-grad life, and instilled in me an unshakable fear of failing. So when graduation finally rolled around, nothing seemed more important than my job-hunt—especially not jetting off across seas to spend money that I simply didn’t feel justified spending.
It’s a cycle of sorts. After graduation is the ideal time to travel, before you have responsibilities like jobs and boyfriends and kids and such, but after spending 4+ years emptying our pockets for tuition money, who can justify something as lavish as travelling? And I know, I know, there are ways to travel without eternal debt, but what about the time? With a job market that is less than forgiving, I know I felt the pressure to start working as soon as possible, to avoid missing opportunities that could make my entire career.
I admire the people in my life who have had the privilege, and more importantly, the courage, to travel while they were/are young. It’s not an easy thing to do regardless, and it’s even harder when you have “responsibility” looming in your future. Oh, the pressures of my first-world life.
The lesson I have learned through all of this internal debate with myself, is that whether to travel or not to travel is never going to be an easy decision to make. Even if you genuinely want the experience, it’s rarely the practical choice. What I have taken away from the path that I have chosen, however? It’s always better to do rather than not do. Regret comes with the territory: regret the things you did, but at least you did them.
Follow Zakiya on Twitter @zakkassam.