My alternative post-grad track? I followed by heart. Maybe there were some red flags in the beginning, but my heart continued to draw me toward the person I thought was “my lobster.” Yes, I thought I was his Rachel and he was my Ross. We were on-again, off-again college sweethearts, and we were determined to make it work.
When I graduated from college, I moved in with my boyfriend who was finishing up grad school. When his graduation day quickly approached, he dropped the bomb that instead of moving to a city, finding jobs like normal college grads and settling down, he wanted to accept a travel position. This meant moving every three months to a new city or town. I was definitely stunned because that wasn't what I expected to hear, but I also was very intrigued.
While pondering over this big decision, and asking myself, "To travel, or to not travel?" I browsed through all of my favorite travel Instagram accounts. I pictured myself in these random people's shoes, posting luxurious photos of my adventures in exotic places and thought to myself, "That looks like hella fun and super exciting." OK, there were a lot more tears and emotions dumped into the ultimate decision to go with him. But in the end, I went.
When my boyfriend and I first began dating, I was worried that one of the things that would draw us apart would my love for travel, and his lack of love for travel. Ha! Looking back now, it seriously causes me to roll on the floor laughing.
I didn't want to give up on us, and if working as a traveler for a couple of years was really what he wanted to do, it was worth giving it a shot. I quickly learned there is a significant difference between loving to travel and traveling as a living. Think about it. Living out of a suitcase or two, fitting whatever else you need inside one compact car, paying an absurd amount to rent a month-by-month apartment and maybe not finding a new home until the night before you're supposed to be in a new city you just found out you were moving to the night before. It's exhausting.
But once we knew where we were being moved to, locked down a new home, arrived to this new home we snagged last minute and found it wasn't disgusting and crawling with cockroaches (this was always one of my biggest fears), it was actually quite exhilarating. After all the stress of moving, we were finally in a brand spanking new city for the next few months. What's more exciting than that?
I'm not telling you to quickly scan your campus for a potential suitor who plans to work as a traveler, snuggle up to them and wait for them to ask you to come along for the ride, but maybe it's feasible on your own. Working in a few different cities before choosing your favorite place to settle is an option. You don't have to conform to society's norms and take the first job you are offered right out of college. You should scope out other options.
There is a plethora of temporary jobs in major cities throughout the country, and they allow you to experience working in different industries and try out different positions. If you aren't sure what you want to do once you graduate, then temp positions aren't a bad way to start your post-grad life. And you never know when something temporary will turn into a permanent opportunity, which happened a few times while I was working. If had known how things were going to turn out, I would have taken this one particular job in LA. Oh well, moving on.
Take advantage of family and friends who are willing to let you crash on their couch for a short period of time. This way, you can explore the area before deciding to plant yourself there permanently without knowing much about the city. This will give you the opportunity to decide what city is best for you, instead of blindly choosing and finding out the hard way it wasn't the best option.
Unfortunately, it was not a happy ending between me and my boyfriend. After a year and a half of traveling together, experiencing new places and incredible adventures, we ended up growing further and further apart. I don't write this to say I regret traveling with him. This experience could have made us even closer as a couple. I also don't regret him encouraging me to try it instead of ending the relationship two years ago. I am grateful for the places I have lived in, and the opportunity to learn more about our own country and all the different cultures that make us the United States, which is one of the most diverse countries in the world from people to food, to nature.
I drove through Yosemite Valley. I climbed approximately 9,200 feet up to Watchtower in Sequoia National Park. I walked along the Santa Monica Beach and dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I stood on the Benson Bridge and watched the Multnomah Falls drop from 542 feet. I soaked in a mud bath in Calistoga, and I went kayaking through caves on the north shores of Lake Superior.
I worked at a number of financial and investment corporations, a production company, a talent agency and a manufacturing factory that produces almost every restaurant in the country's tomato sauce. All of which were interesting, and allowed me to meet some of the most eccentric, fascinating, hardworking, fun and sweetest people I have ever met.
Although I lost someone dear to my heart, and while it was excruciating to watch him leave and continue on this adventure without me, I will be forever grateful for all I accomplished and experienced. I wouldn't trade the experiences I had and friendships I made for an average job I could have landed straight out of college. If I had gone the more traditional route, I would probably feel a bit more secure in this crazy world, but where's the fun in that?
Go for it. Take advantage of the temporary work that is out there and live a little before planting yourself behind a desk. Explore this beautiful, amazing country we live in while you're still young and free.