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