Based on the countless people who have said to me, "I wish I could do what you're doing", I've decided to be a little brazen about my feelings on the whole idea. I can't say this for sure about any culture but my own, but I really do believe that in America, we are still so far from figuring out what life is all about. Our biggest expectations of ourselves and others is to get an education, find a high paying job, get married, have kids, and hopefully be able to afford a decent retirement one day; and all in that exact order. Why? Because that's just what we're supposed to do. Why are we all okay with it? I have no idea. And anything that challenges that norm is not always easily accepted by society, and that's something I refuse to accept. Some of you may say, "But that's life, and that's just how things are", and to you I would argue, "Only if you let it".
Why is it okay that we strive for an education only to land our dream job and not simply for the education itself? Why do we work so hard basically to pay bills and if we're lucky, maybe have one semi decent vacation per year? Why do we value being overworked and trying to become rich when in reality we never have the time to spend our money on any worthwhile life experiences anyway? Furthermore, our jobs become our identity and the people and relationships in our lives suffer, because somehow we've become too busy to remember that the key to a happy life is having time and people to enjoy it with.
Of course, most of us need to work to survive, but I don't believe that work should consume our lives in the way that so many of have allowed. I'm not saying in any way that living life that way is wrong, but I also don't think it should be mindlessly accepted either. I know plenty of people that are following that path and are happier than ever in their situation, but I also know plenty who are doing the same and are blatantly depressed. So what am I saying exactly? If you're not happy with your life playing out that way, simply don't let it. It really is that easy. In my opinion, our ass backwards societal standards are something worth challenging. If like me, your only desire is to travel and take care of kids, then DO IT. There are a millions of opportunities around the world waiting for you. Your life is yours and only you can change it. It's a choice, and everything else is just an excuse. It really just depends on how bad you want it. Of course your dreams may be vastly different than mine, and that's great, but GO FOR THEM anyway. You don't wan't to regret it later, and I'd hate to see any of you settling for a mediocre life simply because our society's boring standards lead us to believe that you can only live life one way.
I must say that being an au pair is one of the most amazing experiences I've had in my life thus far. The perks of being an au pair are essentially the same as being a nanny, except arguably a bit better. Perks of being a nanny include: working in a relaxed and comfortable environment (yoga pants and leggings welcomed), falling in love with the kids you're working with, making a good living, and having all of the benefits of being a stay at home mom, without the lifetime commitment. Additional perks of an au pair include: living expense free in a house and area you will likely never be able to afford, no bills whatsoever, free vacations (or holidays in Aussie talk) with the family, spending money solely for the purpose of shopping and traveling, and best of all, the opportunity to be immersed in a culture you've always wanted to experience. And if by chance you end up in a really cool place like me, you get a fun and exciting family to live with, short work weeks, awesome weather, and the ocean just minutes away from your house. Not the worst situation I've ever been in :).
The reality is that you really can do anything you set your mind to, given that you're a sane, healthy, and semi well-adjusted individual, of course. And whatever will give you the happiness that you're lacking would be worth going for, wouldn't it? Follow whatever dream you may have and don't be afraid to be a little disobedient if that's what it takes to get there.
"The world needs more dreamers, and the world needs more doers. But above all the world needs more dreamers who do".