14 Things To Do With Your Life Instead Of Travel Or Get Married

In the world of "new social norms social media has either created or just perpetually reinforces," there seem to be two camps of twentysomethings: those focused on being backpacking, self-exploring world travelers, and those who are settling down, taking engagement photos and making burlap-covered Pinterest canvases for their condos. (Though this sounds hyperbolic, almost anyone with a Facebook account could confirm there is perhaps more than a shred of truth.)

I'm not sure if our interests are this polarized, or if we've just lauded travel and marriage so much that we think they are the only worthwhile things to do. Let's get something straight: there is nothing wrong with either of them in concept, but there is a whole lot wrong with defaulting to either of the two because you don't know what else to do with your life.

Traveling is fun and exciting and probably makes you a better-rounded person. With that said (and I'm already ducking from the responses I'm going to get to this), it's not much more than that. As Ryan Holiday wrote: "We think travel is the magical cure — all when too often it is simply an escape. The way to deal and face your problems is to stay put. To actually be in yourself for a minute." Traveling is largely a passive experience. It expends your energy on seeing, rather than creating.

The same is true of marriage. It's beautiful if that's what you feel genuinely called to, but it becomes insidious if it's what you're using to find direction in life that you couldn't possibly conceive of on your own. It's a problem when you make a choice to commit to someone without truly understanding who you are, what you want and whether or not the person to whom you are now bound is someone who you really want to spend every day with, co-habitate with, possibly co-parent with, celebrate every holiday with, take every vacation with, and so on.

So here is a list of other things you can do with your life, things that are just as fun, worthwhile, and will perhaps benefit you even more in the long-run:

Save Your Money And Move To Your Dream Town

That place you've always wanted to live — you know, the one that gives you an ooey gooey feeling and makes your whole mind and body light up just from considering it as a possibility? Go there. Figure out a way. Make new friends. Find new work.

Spend Your Spare Time On Side Gigs

Hustle and earn more money to save or pay off debt faster, or at least get experience in the field you really want to be in. Want to be a writer? Write. Every day. Same goes for any other dream you might have — take it one step at a time, but make sure you're taking the steps.

Learn To Cook (But No, Really, Learn To Cook)

You might have to invest in a class or at least a number of books to help you learn to do this, but learning to cook is an investment you (and likely your friends and family) will reap the benefits of every single day for the rest of your life.

Become An Unofficial Expert On The Topic Of Something You Love

Whatever you feel called or drawn to is not coincidental — it's your purpose. Read, learn, explore the things that fascinate you. Expertise is born of interest.

Commit To Your Own Self-Development

Become the kind of person you admire; read philosophy and psychology and self-help. Dismantle the subconscious biases you didn't even know you were operating under.

Fall In Love With A Physical Activity That Doesn't Feel Like A Workout

Spend your spare time biking, doing yoga, dancing in your underwear — you do you.

Start A Passion Project That Benefits Other People

Rather than putting your time, energy, and money toward a book or a business idea that ultimately serves your wallet but not necessarily your heart, consider creating a food donation drive, or starting some other kind of program that benefits people genuinely in need.

Take Online Classes For The Sake Of Learning, If You Can't Go Back To School

The beautiful thing about the internet is that for the first time in history, all of the information that has ever existed is available right at your fingertips. What this means is that if you want to learn about, well, basically anything, there's a course or at least a series of YouTube videos that can help you out on your time — and likely for free!

Learn A New Language, Even Just To Speak Conversationally

And then book a trip to somewhere they speak it! It's still traveling, yes, but with a much more meaningful connection than just going aimlessly because you had nothing else to fulfill you.

Have An Adventure Every Weekend

Take a friend and each weekend, find something free or inexpensive or (if the means are available to you) completely awesome to do. Don't waste your life sitting around making small talk in a sweaty bar.

Try Something New Once A Week For A Year

Fall in love with experimenting — try new foods, go to new places, meet new people. Check out a poetry slam, or Indian food, or skydiving, or a rock concert, or something that would otherwise not appeal to you to explore. Become someone who is willing to try.

Develop The Kinds Of Basic Skills That Will Benefit You For Years If Not Decades To Come

Learn to change tires, do your own taxes, make clothing, refurbish furniture, and so on.

Save Up Your Money And Learn How To Invest

Even if it's just in a higher-yielding savings account (or real estate, or whatever else) get yourself in the game early.

Learn To Love Genuinely

This just sounds like a nice platitude, but what it really means is: learn to love people on the street, people you dislike, people who actually deserve all the love you can give. Learning to love is something you have to train yourself to do, but there are few things that are more completely worth it.

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