During high school and even my first year of college, I had some pre-set deadlines in my life, which included a car and being engaged at the end of college; and a happy marriage/partnership with kids and house by the time I was 27. I’m not sure the 15-year-old high school freshman Dana envisioned herself boyfriend-less, still working the same summer waitressing job, driving her parents car, and sleeping in her same twin-sized childhood bed at the old age of 24 (nor did her parents!) However, on the bright side, I’m not sure 15-year-old Dana envisioned her 20-something-self to have studied abroad, worked abroad, and traveled independently to over 15 countries, either.
Coming home for the summer has sucked me back into the American Dream as well as rekindled some kinds of peer pressure within myself and my everyday life. I mean, my awesome 20-something friends and cousins are developing serious relationships, getting engaged or married, and really jump starting their careers, whereas I continue to be the third or fifth wheel!
Being nomadic, and not knowing where you’re going to be in the next year usually also means that you’re usually single or have a very short-term dating life. I would be lying if the “So do you have a boyfriend?” or, “But isn’t it lonely?” questions didn’t make me a little insecure or uncomfortable. But then I am reminded by all of the people who have told me that they truly admire what I am doing with my life right now, and that they wish they had the courage to do what I was doing. I am told that I am a role model, an inspiration, and have given others the courage to pursue their travel dreams.
Because let’s face it, instead of pinning my dream wedding on Pinterest or going to the gym for the sole purpose of meeting men, I spend my free time reading travel blogs, researching cheap flights, and planning out my twenties based on where I will obtain a working-holiday visa or where I backpack during each summer vacation. The truth is, when it comes to my travels, I’m selfish. I don’t want to sacrifice travel right now (and hopefully maybe one day I will meet the right person who won’t make me choose between the two.)
But for the time being, travel and nomadic life has taught me that I do not need someone else in order to be happy or fulfilled. It’s taught me to be independent and to enjoy doing things alone. Perhaps living in France and continuing to move around means saying, “goodbye” to meeting someone serious in my twenties. But then again, maybe my twenties weren’t made for a duo— there is no “I” in team, after all.