For a long time I had been fundamentally unhappy with my life in New Jersey. This is all in spite of being close to my family and friends, having a great job, taking classes that I enjoyed, and being on the path to embarking on a career that I was truly passionate about. I felt restless, and traveling filled that void.
I finally got away and traveled for three months. I came back and all I could think about was leaving again. I left for two months the next summer. But when I came back this time, I realized that there was no way I could save money for a trip while working as a student teacher. It looked like the next time I’d be able to leave was the fall or winter of the following year.
It gave me a sinking feeling. The only time I really felt like I was living was when I was traveling.
I continued to spend hours a day trip planning and reading travel blogs. Then school really kicked into gear. After years of learning about theory, I was finally being taught how to teach. My classes inspired me and spending time at a school for fieldwork was so rewarding. I wasn’t just getting by, or doing okay–I finally started to love what I was doing.
As a result…my travel plans took a backseat, along with this blog. I wondered what would happen if I was offered a teaching job after graduation: would I turn it down so that I could still travel?
I vacillated on the answer. Then today I looked at my finances and realized that I was behind…about $2,000 behind, to be exact. This debt from my last trip should’ve been paid off by now, but I’ve been slacking.
I haven’t been planning. I haven’t been saving. I’ve lost my sense of urgency. I don’t have the constant, overwhelming urge to leave because I’ve found a good amount of contentment at home. I love traveling. But I think a significant part of me loved getting away.
I needed to make a decision about the South America trip, because if I was actually going, then I needed to get my shit together. It still didn’t seem real; it seemed more like a vague idea. It sounded nice to talk about it but in reality I had no idea what I was doing yet. I needed to make it real. I needed to make a timeline for getting everything done. I needed to crack open the Lonely Planets that have been sitting on my shelf, gathering dust.
I realized that I could look at getting a teaching job in two different ways. One way: finally starting my career in education. The other way: postponing my dream of long-term travel indefinitely.
The idea made me feel sick to my stomach.
I can wait to get a “real job.” But I still have almost a year left of waiting to travel again…I can’t imagine waiting any longer.