Kenya was the first country I visited outside of North America. Although we had our struggles, I was planning on returning before I even left. (to hike Mount Kenya, of course!) That plan never seemed rooted in reality, but I’d still love to see it come to fruition. Next, there was Iceland. It felt like a fairy tale with the cute little (expensive) shops and everyone dressed so well. I found cats everywhere I went, and I knew that I would one day return. In Japan, I have made so many friends and connections that it seems inevitable that I’ll return.
The recurring issue seems to be that I end up loving all the places I go. This is a huge problem for someone who wants to go everywhere. I won’t make much progress in seeing new places if I make return trips.
Then arrives the issue of making connections. Yes, most relationships form due to convenience which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it sure does make it easier to maintain relationships. When we jump from place to place, only working or interning at an organization for a couple weeks or months, it is nearly impossible to network and prove ourselves.
I was in Death Valley for six weeks, and I can’t stop gushing about how friendly of a community I found there. In a mere month and a half, I made friends and had people in power telling me I would go far and that I was encouraged to return the following summer (and the summer after that). Next summer holds so many possibilities. Returning to Death Valley not only would mean three months of fun and happiness, but also three months I could be spending in a place I’ve never been.
To quote Smash Mouth, “So much to do, so much to see.”
This extends to my plans for the next few years as well: I could find one job and work there and have a social life and earn my stripes.
I could find short-term projects and internships and see different states and countries and meet all sorts of people and get more varied work experience.
It’s a problem which isn’t really a problem. I must decide between two great, but divergent pathways. While I have plenty of time to think this through, it is a constant mental burden. The dream situation would be to choose one, but to have the freedom to bounce to the other if things don’t pan out.
I once believed 18 years old to be far too young to make a decision that will affect the rest of one’s life, but now I know that 22 is still way too young.
My best advice for myself and others in similar situations is to make sure that every decision we make will keep us happy. I have studied subjects in college that excite me, and I’m continuing my education on my terms and choosing classes that I can relate to more than one career opportunity. People change, so I’m making decisions now that will allow me to change my mind later.
This is especially enlightening for me because I’ve had to repeat it so many high school students recently.