I am fascinated by one of my coworkers; not in a weird, creepy way, but with simple fascination for his life and all he has done. He has been to some of the most amazing places in the world, lived in different cities, countries and continents — sometimes with his buddies and sometimes on his own. He knows multiple languages and has met some of the strangest, kindest and rarest people around the world.
He’s a traveler and has the most incredible, crazy stories. He had a pet lamb while living in New Zealand; on a boat tour of Amsterdam, he ended up at the Captain’s house for lunch; when he got caught in a rainstorm in Thailand, he fell asleep in an abandoned car. He could go on for days, and I would never tell him to stop. I’m sure he has the photographs to back these stories, but his words alone can paint pictures in your mind.
He is the worldly type of person who we all secretly (or not so secretly) aspire to be. One day at lunch, I was expressing my amazement with his life. I told him how I wished I could do half — just half — of what he has accomplished and go the places he’s been. His response? “Well you have heaps of time. Start now!”
He’s right, I really do have so much time ahead of me, so what’s holding me back?
What’s holding any of us back? Why are so many of us afraid to take the plunge and book a flight somewhere? Because we just graduated and the “smart” next step is to get jobs? Or because we’re comfortable getting drunk with our besties on the weekends, taking a Pilates class every Tuesday and applying for jobs until some email tells us we've landed an entry-level position just a short commute from our parents' home with a salary that can’t afford the big city dreams we once had? We enter the Rat Race and shrug our shoulders, because hey, at least we have jobs.
Why are we okay with this? We sit at our desks, daydreaming about traveling the world, listening to coworkers’ stories about them traveling the world and looking up flight and vacation rentals that we’ll never actually book. We’re afraid to take the leap, so we let time pass by thinking that maybe our Christmas bonus will go toward a trip, or maybe we’ll hit the lotto and fire up a private jet to go anywhere we want.
We think and we dream, but we don’t do. We’re wasting heaps of time. We sit back and watch the clock tick until it’s finally 5:03 pm and we can pack up for the day. We rush to go home and cuddle with our dog, make a sandwich while we watch "Friends" reruns and neglect to do laundry.
It’s time to break the cycle. Because our “heaps of time” are slowly decreasing day-by-day, we waste sitting on the couch with our sandwiches. Put down the sandwich, plan a trip and start your journey! We’re in our twenties and have few responsibilities — nothing tying us down. We don’t have the pressures of marriage, kids or mortgages just yet.
So take advantage of this time and cram pack your twenties with all the places you want to go and activities you want to do. Learn, grow, take risks, travel, explore and enrich yourself. Become your own version of the traveler so when you’re 40 years old and back to working behind a desk, you’ll be the one with the stories.
Let the interns and entry-level employees admire you for your worldliness. You can smile, choose to put down the sandwich and book a flight.