Saturday, September 14, 2013

In 25 years....

What have I figured out in my 25 wonderfully, beautiful years of life on this earth? A whole lot of nothing really. And a whole lot of everything at the same time. There's a lot of pressure put on all of us in our twenties to make good decisions, to be successful, and to build a happy and prosperous life. What this means to most people? Having our lives put together with the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect kids, inside of the perfect house, with the perfectly positioned white picket fence. What does this mean to me? I don't know yet. I'm still figuring it out.

We have so many outrageous expectations of ourselves and what we should be doing at every given point in our lives. Typically, myself would be included. In fact, on my 25th birthday I remember thinking, "I'm sooo old", "How did this happen?", "What am I going to do with my life?","I should really have this figured out by now". And at this point, I would say that I felt very sad, alone, discouraged, and trapped. It's safe to say that I was having a real life, full fledged, quarter life crisis. Yes, they do exist. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for me. And why? Because I felt that I wasn't living up to the expectations that other people had for me and other people my age. And I felt that I wasn't doing enough of the things that a "normal" 25 year old should be doing.

So what changed exactly? I did. I stopped letting what a "normal" 25 year old life should look like define me, and started defining happiness by my own terms. I let go of the negativity that was consuming my life, and this is what happened.

Well here's the bad news. I still haven't figured out what I want to be or what I want to do exactly, and maybe I never will. For the time being though, I know that I love taking care of kids and that I love traveling, so that's what I've decided to do for now. And really that's half the fun. Maybe the real key here is not having it all figured out. Now. Or ever. Because at 25, I have none of those things, and I can assure you that I'm happier than I've ever been and arguably happier than the majority of people that I know. Maybe we need to stop looking at life as a race to get things done, or as a competition as to who has their shit together the most by the time they hit 30. And instead, start enjoying the crazy mess you call your life and live happily by standards you and only YOU set for yourself.

If like me, you don't have it quite all figured out, but are looking for a little something uplifting, I urge you to start with this:

- Be different. Be unique. And shatter the norm. Do what makes you happy even when it doesn't fit into societal standards.
- Your life is your journey. No one else needs to understand it. Be okay with that and keep going.
- Learn from other people. People will undoubtedly hurt you and make you question whether good people still exist. They do. Let go of the bad apples and let them only make you stronger.
- Quality over quantity. Always.
- Surround yourself only with people and experiences that make you feel alive. Leave everything else behind.
- Things will never make you as happy as good people and amazing experiences will. Let that be your drive forward in the right direction.
- And Travel. And not just around the country. Around the WORLD. If there's one thing you learn from me... please let it be this.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." Saint Augustine

This quote couldn't be more true and I've learned more from traveling than I have from any single person, class, or experience in my life. So here's some things I've taken away:

- Traveling has given me a love for something bigger than myself.
- It has taught me to be compassionate, to be intelligent, to be interesting, and to be understanding of people different than myself.
- It has given me 90% of the best days of my life.
- It's given me the opportunity to stand there and say, "This is the single best moment of my life" over and over again. And given me the constant desire to find a better moment than the previous one.
- It's given me a chance to see and discover the world and all of its beauty.
- It's made me realize that I'd never want to live my life in any other way.
- It's made me want to make a difference.
- I've learned different ways of eating, drinking and speaking. And I have thoroughly enjoyed doing so.
- I've learned how to drive on the opposite side of the road.. and quite successfully :)
- I've learned that as Americans, we could learn a lot by adopting the ideals of other countries.
- I've learned that traveling will bring you to tears. Happy tears. The kind of tears I cry every single time I watch the x factor (embarrassing), and every time I see a marriage proposal. The kind of tears I cry when I watch other people's dreams come true. Except better. Because they're your dreams coming true.
- It gives you a kind of passion and love for something that few, if any, other experiences will give you. Eating, drinking, tv watching, working, sleeping, and the normalcy that we typically call life, will NOT give you this. Travel does that. Beauty does that. Really experiencing life and all it has to offer does that.

I'll never forget the many of days we struggled through Europe trying to make our way while uttering the phrases, "I don't get it" and "fuck if I know" daily.

- Like the time we realized we were spending double our money because the American dollar was worth shit.
- Like watching my sister order fish and fries in Ireland instead of chips. Only to in reality get fish and potato chips, while we all ended up with fries she wanted so desperately. Pays to know what you're asking for in whatever country you're in ;). sorry Steph.
- Like the time we took the 'hop on hop off' tour in London, only to realize we spent a buttload of money and wasted a whole lot of time seeing nothing.
- Like the time we wanted to cry in France because only after we got there did we realize that we severely underestimated the difficulty of the language barrier. Turns out french wasn't that easy to catch on to.
- Like sitting in our hotel room for hours in Paris drinking cheap wine and eating grocery store sandwiches while watching french soap operas and music videos because everything that could go wrong that day did. We may or may not have said, "I hate this place" 75 times in the 5 days we were there.
- Like the time we couldn't read spanish and decided to order cuttlefish because we thought it couldn't be "that bad". And it was that bad.
- Like the time we spent $8 on a can of diet coke because we were so hungover and desperate for something to drink.
- Like getting lost in every single place we went to because we couldn't read directions and we were very bad guessers.
- Like looking incredibly ugly because someeee places decided not to have outlets for our beloved hair straighteners.
- Like getting stalked by everyone in Venice because we were 3 young, blonde haired, blue eyed girls. Screaming and pictures were taken wherever we went. It was a small taste of what being famous would be like... and although good for the ego... I hated it.
- Like spending a couple hundred dollars because you had to pay to use the restroom EVERYWHERE in the 30 some days you were in Europe. Including every bar during the pub crawl in Amsterdam.
- Like going to the worlds worst ice bar after having been sooo excited all trip about it.
- AND like forgetting that the drinking age is 18 and dancing with boys in the pub only to be violently shoved away once they found out that you were 23.

And looking back, I wouldn't change any of those "bad" experiences for the world. They were the things we complained about then, and laugh uncontrollably about now. Things we thought were annoying and troublesome in the moment, in the end, gave me the single best experience of my entire life. And here's why:

- Meeting an amazing family in Dublin our first night there. Eating, talking, and drinking my first Guinness in a traditional Irish pub with live Irish music. "Galway Girl" still gives me the chills every time I hear it.
- Traveling to the Cliffs of Moher and being in complete awe that places that beautiful really exist.
- Watching "Wicked" in London and being moved to the point of tears.
- Eating cheap sandwiches at our secret cafe every single day and scoring free chocolate just for being "pretty".
- Seeing the Eiffel Tower and climbing the hundreds of stairs just to write "Amy + Jerrica = Soulmates" on it. And realizing that despite disliking mostly everything else about Paris, that this single event, made it all worth it.
- Drinking Sangria in Spain.
- Pub crawling in Barcelona with our veryyyy good looking Australian hostel mates before Alli arrived and being far too intoxicated by the time she actually got there.
- Realizing 5 pm is wayyyy too early to start drinking in Spain. By time you make it to the club at 2 am, you will turn right around and go home.
- Meeting amazing girls from Arkansas who we swear would be our best friends if we lived in the same city.
- Like standing in the Mediterranean Sea and saying to your friends, "Remember when we said how happy we would be if we made it through this year and to this very moment? Well.. We did it!!"
- Watching the massive gay pride parade in Berlin with some very ignorant, naive and impressionable young boys. And seeing how open minded and fun they were being.
- Telling those same boys that Amy's brother proposed to me on the 50 yard line during a packer game while Aaron Rodgers put the ring on my finger. And them believing it.
- Touring the Sigmund Freud museum like a true psychology freak :) and buying a Freud puppet to prove it.
- Eating pizza, pasta, and gelato in Italy.
- Sitting with my arms around my best friends watching the sunset.
- Shopping in Venice and buying real Italian leather handbags. And shoes. So many shoes.
- Taking a gondola ride down the canal and saying "I've been waiting my whole life for this" and realizing that you are in fact living in the single best moment of your life thus far.
- Riding bikes in the streets of Amsterdam.
- Seeing all of the hype about the red light district first hand.. and boy was it interesting.
- Meeting hundreds of amazingly awesome people along the way.
- And best of all? I got to live out the biggest dream of my life up until that point.

So my point is... traveling will teach you things about yourself, the world, and about the crazy kinds of awesome people in it. Don't be the person who saves every penny you make in hopes that you'll do it someday. Want to know what happened to the last person I know who waited for someday? She had a stroke the day after her retirement. And was then only able to live out her dreams of traveling the world through MY pictures and MY stories. Don't let this be you.

And if you simply don't like traveling, my guess would be that you've driven in a car across a few states, or have maybe flown once to an overly touristy destination and had a bad experience. And I'd strongly urge you to reconsider. You have no idea the beauty that you're missing out on. And you'll never regret a day you've traveled. I promise you.

19 comments:

  1. Great insight Jerrica! You know, I'm 50 now and still haven't figured it all out yet. Probably never will. The key to life is to live it they way you want to instead of what everyone else expects. I think you stated this very nicely in your blog. Only you can truly make yourself happy! It's not about how much money you make. If you're doing what you enjoy in life than you are living life the way you are suppose too.

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    1. Thanks dad. You've always been one of my biggest supporters. Even when my crazy dreams bring me 10,000 miles away from home. Love you so much!

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    1. Thank you so much :)! Really appreciate you taking time to read and comment.

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  3. If you get a chance, you should go to Trigg beach. stop by the surf shop. you may have already. say hi to Gerry and the rest of the crew. see if there are any mizzou coasters still on the wall above the sink. Go have a chai at Yelo...i want to come back! I miss it! And get hold of Tom if you need any pictures! ;) love Perth, the zigzag, and little Caesar's! Please tell me you've been to little Caesar's...

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    1. Thank you for your suggestions! I will be sure to check it out :). I haven't been to little Caesar's yet.. what is it exactly? Either way. I'll make sure to get there at some point. Thanks for reading and commenting. Means the world to me to have new readers.

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    2. It's pizza, BUT not like the one here....it is unique and delicious as long as your palate is one for trying things....the main one is in Mundaring. the other one is in...la la la...oh, there's an older theatre and an oxford books i think....I'll have to look it up. Do you surf?

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  4. I stumbled across your blog online and I am hooked. I have the same on traveling and seizing every opportunity. I recently returned from studying abroad and continue to ask myself, why am I still at an American college? I just booked a trip to London in October. Decided that taking two weeks off of college would be totally work it :) You're such an inspiration. I look forward to reading all about your adventures in the land down under :)

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    1. Thank you so much. I post opinion pieces as well as things about my life as an Au Pair-- daily life, travel, etc. I'm sure it will be something you are interested in! Feel free to follow me if you haven't already! Traveling changes you in a way no one else can understand unless they've been there. Keep doing what you're doing and finding ways to keep that happiness in your life. You won't regret it :)

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  5. "You have no idea the beauty that you're missing out on. And you'll never regret a day you've traveled. I promise you."

    Couldn't agree more! Thank you so much for writing this entry! I read this at a perfect time and it brought tears to my eyes. I hope you don't mind that I linked you in my blog.

    Happy travels! xo

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    1. You're bringing tears to my eyes after reading your sweet comment. Thanks so much for viewing my blog. I wrote a new one entitled "Thankful" dedicated to you and all of my new supporters. Please give it a read! A HUGE thank you for linking me in your blog. Please send me the link to yours so I can read! I would be happy to link yours as well :)

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    2. My blog is still in the baby phase, but here it is :) http://dxbdreams.com

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    3. I will be reading!! Keep it up girl and definitely thanks for the shout out :).

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  6. Your story and your writing is wonderful! It's easy for someone to say "go out and travel," but I love that you took the time to write out memories that stand out to you--it's so inspirational. Loved it!

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    1. Yeah I feel it's important for readers to give a sense of what I mean by 'traveling has given me the best days of my life". Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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  7. You have a great blog and writes amazing stuffs especially about how brave you moved out from your comfort zone. You are so inspiring! Keep exploring and happy travels! I'm sooo hoping I could meet ones like you, women who fell in love with traveling, in my journey too. Love this! Kudos to your plans and blog!xx - Fritzie

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    1. Thanks very much Fritzie. I so much appreciate having a reader like you :)!

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  8. Hi, i just found about your blog because you left a comment on todaywasmeaningful... IM SO GLAD I DID... Im from the Dominican Republic & i recently spent my first summer abroad working in USA, i've been there but never without my family, without their support... i found those 3 months to be the most difficult but amazing months of my live... i mean, i spent 90% of my time working there, but i made enough money to visit virginia with my friends and to go to Niagara Falls... Also i meet so many amazing people that now i can call my friends, all over the world, Romania, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Russia, etc... Those 12 weeks, now have left a giant hole in my chest, I NEED MORE, i dream of more!

    I studied french for 4 years, im not good at it, i must admit, but i dream of going to France, and live there for six months or a year, learn italian and go there too, live there too... MY DREAM IS TO TRAVEL and know as much as i can about the planet we live in; it's a beautiful feeling what traveling can do for a person. I just can't wait to finish college, earn money and go to Europe. Im definitely going to follow your posts! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INSPIRING ME TO FOLLOW MY DREAMS...
    THANK YOU, GRACIAS, MERCI BEAUCOUP, GRAZIE! -A girl that turned 20 years old on may 2013.

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    1. Thank you so very much for this post. It means so much to me to hear that anything I write has inspired somebody else. I applaud you SO much for being so adventurous at such a young age. Leaving everything behind and moving here was the hardest thing I've ever had to do! But without a doubt, was the best decision I've ever made. I encourage you TO follow your dreams. Europe changed my whole life, and gave me this addiction to wanderlust that I'm afraid will never go away. Friends all over the world are the best kind of friends to have... always a place to visit :). Best of luck to you and please follow your dreams! You will never regret it, I promise you. Feel free to follow me via google plus on my page. You will get emailed my posts. Or 'like' my page on facebook. I post everything to that as well. Thank you again for commenting!

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