To All the Millennials who only know adult life in cubicle form,
I am writing you this open letter to encourage you to live outside the box. I know, I know… your parents are super proud of you for graduating in 4 years and immediately getting a job– well done! And then, to top it off, you’ve been holding down said job since the day you graduated, even though it is nothing along the lines of what you wanted to do. Financially smart though– always looking towards that future goal! I also know that in society’s eyes you are doing exactly what you’ve been told you should do since day one. But the times they are a changin’, and your plans are allowed to change along with them—not sure if anyone has ever told you that.
So, Mr. Responsible, tell me about some adventures you’ve been on in your life. No, I don’t want to hear about the time you and your frat bros like totally streaked through campus. I mean real fucking adventure. I’m talking about off the beaten path; cell phones don’t work, 1000’s of miles from the comforts of home type of adventures. The kind of adventure that turn you into a real adult, and allows you to find out who the fuck you really are. How many of those adventures have you been on? Until now you’ve clearly chosen the safe route, and I’m sure it’s worked out for you. But in 50 years when you’re looking back at all you’ve done and accomplished, do you really want to regale your children with stories of how Sharon took your sandwich from the break room fridge and you gave her a stern talking to? Or tell them about the time you got lost backpacking through Thailand and found yourself face-to-face with a wild tapir before making friends with some locals who showed you the way back home? You want the latter, Sharon doesn’t deserve a story.
Now, I know a rule follower like yourself is immediately going to focus on the issues of quitting your job; how will you afford to travel? How will you eat? What will your parents say? What will happen to your 5 year plan!? My short answer for you is this: Fuck it. Life isn’t perfect, but it is short, and it’s all about making the best out of a given situation and learning as much as you can along the way. Instead of stressing out over hiccups, learn to embrace them and roll with the punches. You have no idea what is in store for you down the road– no matter how hard you try and plan each and every second of it. This time in your life isn’t going to be about worrying what could go wrong, but experiencing what could go right.
First, the immediate feel of relief. You’re free! For the first time in your life you don’t have somewhere you need to be in the morning, and the rules of American society aren’t dictating your next move. This is on you, make the most of the time you have and you won’t regret it for a minute. You can always go back to your old life when you’re done, and you have your whole life ahead of you to push paper. So instead of focusing on where the next paycheck is coming from, try and embrace the fact that all your hard work leading up to this has paved the way for you to do something amazing. Be proud of yourself for leaving it behind for now, future you will love you for it.
You’ll quickly realize how much you don’t need material possessions. Carrying everything with you from place to place and living off your savings doesn’t really encourage the shopping sprees. While the first month might be a bit of an adjustment period, you’ll realize that money well spent is the money spent on memories, not materials. Drinks with new friends at a local pub, zip lining through mountains, and snorkeling with tropical fish leaves you with better stories and less luggage to bring home.
Additionally, you’ll come back with a better understanding of the world, which makes you have a better appreciation for the life you live, or have a better understanding of the life you want. Adding some culture to your life is a great thing. Not only does it help you understand the world around you, but you also tend to get a fuller grasp of yourself and where you fit in to the universe. It’s easy to think the whole world operates like the small town you grew up in—it doesn’t. There is a vast amount of lifestyles and paths in the world, and you’re completely shortchanging yourself if you only focus on the one laid out directly in front of you from the start.
You’ll make lifelong friends. While there’s something to be said about keeping a tight-knit group throughout your entire life, there is also something to be said about someone who can connect with people from all over the world. Reading about life in the Dominican Republic is nothing like having a friend who can tell you about it firsthand. Being able to share experiences and stories with people who come from such different backgrounds as you can help you grow immensely, and opens you up from the bubble Americans are regularly stuck in.
In the end, giving in to wanderlust and taking a break from real life isn’t irresponsible or stupid, it’s grabbing life by the balls and gaining some worldly fucking knowledge. It’s bettering yourself and giving you a life truly worth living. Now start Googling the places you’ve always wanted to go but have never been, and make that shit happen.