The quarter life: traveling changed the way I think about being 25

When I was a little girl, I told myself, “I am going to be married at 25.” I also said I’m going to be a doctor living in a huge house and coming home to five children with my gorgeous future husband.

At 20, I started traveling and I still believed I will do what I mentioned above after 5 years. My 23rd year arrived — I was still studying. “At least I am in Europe” was my comfort phrase.

In 2013, my 25th birthday hurt like hell — a boy who I thought I was inlove with broke my heart. I wasn’t married, not a doctor with zero kids nor a gorgeous husband.

“At least I am in Brasil”, I said back then. A lot of questions were running my head: What am I doing?

Am I supposed to be here? Maybe I should ask him to get back together? Really, what am I doing? Holy crap, what am I doing!!!

I am from a country where people are questioned of being single at 25. They say a lot of things when you reach this age.

I’ve been told it’s going to be hard to give birth at 30 or it will be easier to deal with your child if you don’t have a big age gap. 25 is the perfect age. Hearing this over and over again made me sick about it and I am sure you understand what I mean.

But then traveling changed everything I used to believe in.

I used to believe that at 25, I should have a “perfect” job. Now, I am very happy being an English teacher, volunteering and working online even if most people think I wasted my career in fashion.

I used to believe that at 25, I will know everything about the world. Now, it makes me feel really small. There are lot of things I didn’t know about this huge world we’re living in and I am still learning new things everyday by being out here. It’s a never ending learning process!

I used to believe that at 25, I will be married. Now, I am more comfortable of being alone and finally accepted that it’s not too bad at all.

I became closer to inner-self and learned that I can make myself happy without depending on another person.

I used to believe that at 25, I should have a shiny car, a huge house and lots of money. Now, I craved less for material things.

The experience of living with people who are happy to be eating three times a day, in their small homes and simple lifestyle is overwhelming.

Seeing how people live in the other side of the world taught me that. I am very contented living with a 90-litre backpack and spending only on the things I can afford.

I used to believe that at 25, my first child will be born. Now, I have given up on people thinking that I am old and should settle down and have a family.

I met a lot of travellers way older than me who are still going after their dreams of seeing the world. And that is just amazing. I even volunteered with a 42 year old in Peru!

I used to believe that at 25, life will be hard. Now, it’s becoming easier each day. We are the only ones who make life hard for us!

For 18 months, I moved cities after cities in South America and it wasn’t complicated at all. We are just really good in finding excuses and saying “but…” and “what if?”

I used to believe that at 25, I’ll have it all figured out. Now, I realise that life only begins when you find your passion. I feel like I started all over again when I discovered I can travel the world for as long as I want. Everything was so new and I felt like I was born again!

Today, traveling freed me from being a prisoner of these stereotypes. Though I respect my elders, I stopped caring of what other people think of how I am manoeuvring life.

There is no Universal law on how to live life and I hope that one day, you will also realise that you are entitled to your own way of living.

Remember that you will find your passion, one way or another: whether it’s travelling, being a young mother, a chef, a writer, marrying the girl of your dreams, GO FOR IT and don’t you ever take sh*t from anyone.

I think it’s neat you do what you want. Not enough chicks do that, if you ask me–just tell society and their expectations to go fck themselves. If more women did that, we’d be better off.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

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  1. Age stereotypes or expectations of yourself can often be hard to break. But lets face it not everyone wants the same things for their life or can predict thwir future. I have recently passed 25 and thoight similar thoughts like should I stop traveling should I get a real job? And I always find my answer when I ask myself only how I feel and ignore the pressurea and expectations society has for me. Enjoying my life is something only I can do and only I know how to do. Keep up thw travels age aint nothin but a number. And I have talked to many people who did the whole husband and kida thing young and even if I get a little jealous sometimes I know that they are just as jealous of my path. Sometimes the grass is always greener on the other side 🙂 keep making yourself happy!

  2. Hi Trisha!
    Yes, we know the feeling, we are Brazilians and in our 30’s.
    When me an Nat broke the news that we would ditch the “normal” life to travel, we started to hear:
    – You just got married, you should settle, have kids….
    Now after 8 months of travels we already changed a lot and I`m sure that we ‘ll change more.
    Safe travels!
    ps. If you need any info about Brazil, drop us a line.

  3. Love this post! Societal pressure can make it so hard to go after what you want to do, but as long as YOU’RE happy, then keep on doing what you’re doing! 🙂 When I was 12, I thought that at 30 (my current age), I would have been a lawyer making lots of money. Many things have changed since then to make me realize that my chosen path of travel, blogging, and freelance writing is the absolute best thing for me. I do have a toddler (who is wonderful), but kids certainly make travel more complicated. I wish I’d traveled more before I’d gotten married and had my daughter, but I always felt like I needed to get to that next step before I could spend the money on traveling. I was SO wrong!

  4. The best part is that you are STILL so young! I put a pause on travel for several years because I was worried about having time left for a career and a family. Now I still haven’t done much beyond my business, AND I haven’t traveled again like I’ve been wanting to, so I have to make some difficult decisions since I’m older now. A travel life is a complicated thing to balance with the goals of a “normal” life, but it’s great that you have so much time ahead of you to figure it all out!

  5. I like your attitude! I had my first kid at 30, and my second kid almost 5 years later. I travelled a lot before that, but I’ve also travelled a lot since then! Don’t assume that having kids anchors you in place. It changes HOW you travel, since you need more certainty, especially when the kids are little (no more sleeping at train stations), but it doesn’t END travel at all, unless you let it! And seeing sights through your kids’ eyes adds a whole new dimension as well. You keep doing what feels right for you, and resist any pressure otherwise!

  6. Hi Katie! That’s true. Like what I always say, you can’t have it all. My friends are also starting to build their families and they still think I have a very good life. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts!

  7. Hey Rob! Yes, I understand! But I am very happy both of you are living your life! I’ve been to Brasil for 6 months (including the World Cup) and it’s my favourite country in South America!!! Bjs xx

  8. And when you get older, you have no idea how much lawyers are earning. HAHAHA! You have a child? That’s wonderful!!! I don’t think you should regret anything though. We can’t really have everything at the same time. When your daughter is old enough to carry her own backpack, maybe you can go and travel with her. Thanks for your insights!

  9. I actually went so far as to go through a year of law school before I realized that I hated it and switched to a graduate program. LOVED it! (So good decision there!) Believe it or not, I’m that crazy person who travels (often solo) with my toddler when I’m going to different locations for my travel blog. I love traveling with her, but it definitely requires more forethought and LOTS more packing. I guess I’m trying to get her used to lots of travel from a young age! 🙂

  10. Rachel, I am just so sick about my ‘singleness’ being an issue. I am done, really. HAHAHA! I’ll just live the way I want my life to be, and you know, not take sh*t from anyone.

  11. Thank u so much for posting this! Im so glad u did. Im abt the same age as u and all my frens are like married, pregnant. … Bein so in love and no offence i haf nthg against it but it jus bugs me when they would want me to b in that same path as them butttttt I feel theres a lot more to explore in life and these beautiful creations in this world keep me going. Especially if ure single, u haf no one to really hold u back to keep travelling more n more. i wish u happiness wherever u go babe! Hope to bump into u on some mountains or village or at the beach someday, somewhere! 🙂

    Safe travels,

  12. Hi! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post on facebook. I forgot which friend shared this though… hehe. But anyway, it’s so comforting to know that there are others who are in the same situation as me: 25 & still trying to figure out what to do with my life. Heck, even trying to figure out how to be a “real” adult. There are times when I’m with some friends who work 9-5 jobs and when we have a get-together, I weirdly feel like I’m out of place all the time because I don’t have a full time job. I get so paranoid that I have these thoughts at the back of my mind that my friends are probably judging me and my choices (specifically, career related ones). I can’t relate to people who complain about their full-time jobs simply because that’s not the kind of work schedule that I have. Perhaps some acquaintances I’ve come across have given me “that look” when I tell them I don’t have a full time job. Know what I mean? I try my best to not give them the satisfaction of me caring about what they think. At present, I also teach English to foreign students ( just like you 😀 ), currently studying Japanese (read-write-speak), plan on becoming fluent and at the same time managing a small local business online.

    I admire your courage for travel. I hope one day I can do the same. But for now, I have too much studying to do once more because I chose this path. @_@ hahaha!! Once again, thank you for this post!

    I wish you all the best in life!

  13. Thank you for posting such wonderful articles. Every time I read your articles, it makes me realize how not to live in the expectations of others. To fight for yourself and not to care on what others think. It gives me freedom and worry less of what might come in the future.

  14. This just fattens the heart.

    Good thing I stumbled upon this post. Im 32, and I just got back from a 9 day travel in 3 countries. I started traveling at 30 and so its a little bit later than when the others did it. My dad was like asking why in all the world would I sleep in airports, stay in a room with strangers, talk to hawker vendors, etc. Its always on the different insights, the varying perspectives, the lessons U get from traveling and from talking.

    You just convinced me my next trip this october should push through.

  15. Wow, you sure got ahead of me, I’m realizing lots of this stuff and I’m…wait for it…35! Yes, my uterus has passed its heyday, and yes I have no “real” job (which drives my parents nuts).
    I know that I’m living the life I love, and that I will find my way. Just because it’s not everybody else’s way is OK.
    You are so right about what you’re doing, keep following your heart!

  16. All of my friends warned me that 30 was going to be mind-bending. But as I reflected on it, back home in Chicago and recently married, I realized I’d accomplished and seen more than most of them at 30. Little smiles all over the place that day. And I know I’m going more places.

    Keep following you heart! You’ve done and seen more than most in a lifetime.

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