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Thursday, February 28, 2013

"So, you Work to Travel?"


2015 South America!!!
2015 Vision Board
Source : Various including Wanderlass, AdamTheTraveler

I recently started a new job. During lunch with my colleagues in the project, their post-graduate education and degrees were discussed. And I got asked the question : “Do you have a masters degree? Do you have plans of getting further studies?” It was asked in a non-condescending manner (they're really nice and really really smart people), just like a normal question given the backgrounds of most of the people that are working here. 

The only answer I could come up with was : “It used to be part of the plan. But ever since I started traveling, it doesn’t seem to be anymore. Maybe in the future, but for now it’s not.” 

"So, you work to travel?" 



My 2011 Vision Board, this was my laptop (even at the office) 
and phone wallpaper prior to the Big Trip.
And yes, it happened. I traveled in India and Nepal :)

This seems to be a common theme in my life ever since I graduated from university. That feeling of being out of place. For the first five years, I tried to fit in. I tried to achieve something or work for something that seems to be the ‘next step’, a part of a progression towards a ‘career’. Until slowly, I was exposed to different things – short travels, local travels, photography, and other experiences that were new. Experiences that certainly were not part of the ‘plan’. 

I also recently bumped into a friend from way back in grade school. And he told me how much he admires the places I’ve been to, the experiences I’ve had, and how I’ve been living my life. He even teased how rich I probably am for being able to afford all the things I’ve done for the last three years. He asked how I was able to do it. 

While I was preparing for the Big Trip two years ago, and even a few months after, I found myself offended or at least confused by these types of reactions. I took offense with the fact that people see me as someone who’s wasting a good education, a good career, and money. I sometimes questioned how I’ve been living my life. The change was quite major that I myself found it so unbelievable, and it threw me off-balance.

But lately especially after these two encounters, I am genuinely proud of how I’m living my life right now. I feel less insecure about myself and where I’m going. Heck, I don’t even know if I even think of life that way. A life with a distinct plan. I don’t even know what my life is going to be next year. Yes, I do plan on staying put for at least two years here – I want to be here for a friend who’s going through something really serious, and to save up for a friend’s wedding abroad, and of course my South America trip. But what I’ve learned since the Big Trip, is that things change. Plans change. Life surprises. And all that you can do, really, is learn how to go with it. 

I am happy with the changes I see in myself, the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve been to, and the life I’ve been living. I've somehow learned to embrace that now - I work to travel. That it's perfectly fine that I don't have a masters degree, or a car, or a job that affords me to travel freely (because I know some people are doing this now). I look back at my life the past three years and all the experiences I've earned are worth more than the possible material things I could have bought and the career I've left behind. And I'm good with them, and that's what I'm striving for again. To live more, and to experience more - from people all over the world, from different cultures and faiths, and from places that have humbled me - all of these have made me so happy. 

Yes, I work to travel. I travel to experience. And I work to live. Not, and never again, the other way around.