I'm Turning 25, And I'd Rather Spend My Money On Travel Than On A House, A Wedding, Or A Child
"I don't think I want that."
This is my approximate thought when I see yet another Facebook acquaintance blow their life savings on a townhouse fixer-upper. It's a consistent, resounding, and distinct murmuring in the back of my mind by the time I've reached the climax of every romantic comedy. It's the only statement running through my head when I see the people around me making decisions that could keep them bound to a single 100-mile radius for the rest of their lives.
This errant thought isn't exactly the best of friends with my co-existing desire for security and stability in a world where we're all just a few wrong steps away from having none at all. Sometimes all I want is to curl up in a corner and imagine what life was like just 10 years ago, when my biggest issue was what I was going to get for Christmas.
This month I turn 25. It's an age that I've always idealized. I figured I'd have everything I ever wanted in life by this point, because everything would have gone as planned. I never would have hurt anyone and no one ever would have hurt me; I'd never meet people who led me to question everything I was doing and all the things I wanted. Good and bad behaviors and people would be easy to pinpoint, clear as night and day. There'd be no shades of grey. No, not even in this form:
There would be nothing messy, no one earth-shattering. I would always be completely satisfied.
But I'm learning to accept that it's true what they say — life is unpredictable. In my own, though, there's been a single, reliable constant: I want to travel. I don't want to buy a house right now. The only thing I want, to put it simply, is the world.
In my life, there's been a single, reliable constant: I want to travel. I don't want to buy a house right now. The only thing I want, to put it simply, is the world.
It's one of the only activities that keeps me feeling like me. While we're at it, I want to do a job that challenges, rewards, and excites me. And as romanticized as the concept has become, I'm completely serious when I say that I want fireworks, all the time. Am I really that different from the twenty-something who dreams of a white picket fence?
In the past five years, I've lived in five different cities and two different countries. I've woken up to the coldest Italian winter in decades, sat in a Dutch coffee house wondering if weed would really be as great as everyone said it was, and wandered the cobbled streets of tiny Spanish towns with unidentified breeds of puppies chasing my heels. I think, in that time, I changed.
When we're exposed to cultures that directly contradict everything we "know to be true," aka everything we've been taught is right, we begin to consider all things differently. No one culture has all the secrets just as no singular country holds all the magic. With this knowledge, it's almost impossible for me to consider putting down roots someplace where I would then be bound. Maybe that's because things happen when you choose to call home a single place; it seems the natural way of things that people become satisfied and complacent.
It doesn't hurt that the average cost of a home in the United States is nearly $200,000, meaning that, if the average international airline ticket was $1000, I could see maybe 150 different places in the world for that price. See that six-digit number? Do you even know how many hostels that could pay for? Do you know how many trips I could take, and therefore how many kindred spirits I could meet, unique experiences I could have, street stalls I could patronize, waters I could swim in, cities I could explore, trails I could hike, mountains I could climb, dear friends I could make?
My home, my white picket fence, is with the people I love all over the world. It doesn't have a solid form, no brick and mortar structure. Despite the norm, or whatever seems right to the generation coming into adulthood at the moment, I think we're a bit different. I think we see the world changing around us and we want to explore, and grow and see it all. In fact, I've never seen the word "wanderlust" as much in my entire life as I have in just the past year; it's a hot topic, the concept of exploration.
Maybe one day I will be satisfied with a single way of life, all the time. For my sake, I hope that I am because this is getting exhausting. For now, though, I have no qualms with admitting it: I don't think I want that.
Images: Faith Keay/Flickr; Getty (1); Giphy (1)