You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA for the past few days. That’s because over the weekend I turned twenty. The big 2-0. Between celebrating with family and friends in one city to catching a flight to celebrate some more in another; let’s just say a lot of blogging did not get done. Instead there were a lot of laughs, drinks, and reflection and realization.
I’ve been thinking a lot about turning 20.
For me getting older has always come with a sense of anxiety. Sometimes I worry I’m a step behind everyone else; that everyone else somehow already has their life figured out and I’m still scratching my head in the same spot, escaping with plane tickets here and there, only to return to the same spot I was in before.
I worry about time moving too quickly, that I won’t be able to accomplish everything I want to in my short time here on Earth. It seems like such an irrational thing to be concerned with, and maybe its travel that’s made me this way. Maybe seeing the world has opened my eyes to how much there really is out there. 7 billion people, 7 continents, 196 countries, and 5 oceans to be exact.
Those numbers are overwhelming. Sometimes when I do the math, I panic. I’ve only been 13 of 196 countries. I could spend days stressing over how I’m going to rearrange my life and plan every last moment perfectly so I can visit every country and see all there is to see there.
Sometimes I question whether or not taking a year off to travel was a good idea. Now I’m an additional year behind my peers who all seem to know their path. My lovely friends, all aspiring to be doctors, lawyers and engineers, while I, already a year behind everyone, have switched my university program for the third time.
I’m glad I’m friends with such high achievers, I really am. Their determination and ambition fuels me as well, and they’ve always supported my decisions. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t catch them swapping questioning glances when I talk about squeezing in a trip here, or spending the summer abroad, or doubting my position in university; as if I’m some gypsy always on the run. Which, I guess isn’t too far off from the truth.
I’ve always known I was different from most people, even my friends. My way of thinking has always been rather abstract. As the basic motto of my blog states, I don’t take no for an answer. Where most people accept defeat and bury their head in the sand I refuse to back down.
The whole purpose of my year off was to travel and do some soul searching. As many people do, I was travelling to find myself. And I did, well sort of. It seems as though every new place I visit, I uncover a new piece of the puzzle of Emily. Sometimes it’s good and helps me put things together, other times it makes me question every decision I’ve made up to that point. Just when I think I have all the pieces and I’m trying to determine how they fit together, I discover a new piece.
It’s funny how most people find comfort at home and for me, home is the only place I am uncomfortable. I am so uncomfortable on the straight and narrow. I feel out of place as a university student, as another millennial struggling to pay off student loans for a piece of paper I’m not even sure I want. It seems that the only time I am truly comfortable is when I’m exploring a foreign land, struggling to understand the locals, and getting lost in a new city.
Although my year off might have pushed my further away from my peers, I think it brought me closer to myself. I think a lot in these 20 years of my life has brought me closer to myself, and a lot of that has to do with travel. It’s as if I can only discover myself when I’m lost. Being in a familiar place for too long offers me no room for progression and growth.
On my twentieth birthday I wrote a list of 20 things I wanted to do in my 20’s. A 20’s Bucket List. I had to narrow it two 20 or else I would literally have gone on for years.
After writing this I realized that a decade is a long time, and maybe I was getting way ahead of myself in worrying that I won’t have time to do all these things. When I really put that into perspective, I started to reflect back on the two decades I’ve already lived and how much I’ve accomplished so far. So, I wrote another list. 20 Bucket List Things I did Before 20.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve truly lived.
After going back and comparing my two lists I was able to ease my mind a little bit and realize I have time to live the life I want, and although it seems I’m stuck in a never ending quarter life crisis, I know somewhere there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It might just take a few more travelling adventures to find it.
I wanted to write this post to help anyone else who’s in the same boat as me. If you feel lost, left behind, confused, or out of place, trust me I know. I recently read somewhere that despite turbulence and other conditions keeping planes off course 90% of the time, most flights arrive in the correct destination at the intended time. So if you’re going through some turbulence in your life right now, don’t worry, you’ll be directed back on course soon enough and end up exactly where you belong.