Travel Ruined Me

Get a University degree, find a decent job, get married, get a mortgage, have kids, retire happily ever after and then travel, eventually. This imposed social norm sounds simple to follow. I wish I could still be ignorant to think that there is a formula for happiness, universal for all. My life could have been ‘normal’ and comfortable if I had never felt that strong passion for exploring the world. It started with my first flight when I was an 18-year-old moving to London. Seeing the clouds from above was the most exciting and beautiful view. But no one warned me that in this moment I would get addicted to traveling.

19 countries and eight years later, I choose not to spend my money on designer clothes, shoes, trendy gadgets, a car or cosmetic procedures, although society expects me to. The thought of having kids sounds as appealing as going to the dentist. A 9-5 office job seems even scarier than raising kids. And I never think about retiring and saving money in pension funds. Relationships rarely last long as I am constantly on the move. Traveling is all I think about. I get depressed when I stay at the same place for more than three months. To the rest of the world, I am an outsider, a nutjob without a plan for my future. When I told my parents I want to quit my regular 9-5 job to tour the world they organized a family intervention to put me back ‘on the right track’. But I liked riding my derailed life.

Travel made me smug. While my friends shuffle papers and pretend to be busy when playing FarmVille, I like to update my status with a photo of me shamelessly smelling cherry blossoms in Kyoto or eating couscous in Morocco. I want to show off what my ‘just another day in the office’ looks like. And I mean to tease with this. If society tells me my priorities are irrational or weird, why can’t I do the same? In reality, I work as a freelancer and put at least 10 hours to write, photograph, and take other projects that come my way. But I am still having a hard time convincing my friends that my ‘permanent vacation’ is tough labor. They all suspect that I secretly am a millionaire. But none of them knows how much courage it takes to challenge society’s status quo, to beat the system.

I wish I could live in a comfortable and simple way. I wish I could believe that my nationality means something and that it is worth being proud of it. I wish my life was easy. But travel made me fall in love with the world and appreciate freedom. It ruined me. And then it built me all over again as it made me feel alive.

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