I’ve been living in Spain for a little more than a month now, and it has given me a lot of time to think about what I plan to do when the next few months are finished. I have been a bit of a nomad since graduating college almost four years ago. In that time, I’ve been to over thirty countries, five continents, and I’ve lived in a foreign country for much of that time. I am twenty-five years old, and there are times when I can feel my age (don’t laugh) and how things have changed over the past few years.
There’s a somber moment as a vagabond when you realize that you can’t live this lifestyle forever. And that time is different for everyone. Maybe it’s when you realize that you’ve missed all the major events in your friends’ lives. Maybe it’s when a family member becomes ill and you aren’t sure if you are going to be able to return home to see him or her. Maybe, it’s when you fall in love and decide that it’s time to find a place that feels like you could belong there.
Some can live this lifestyle as long as they want, but for most of us, knowing when to stop is just as brave of a moment as knowing you want to start—choosing something slightly off the wall and coloring outside the lines. I’ve recently been thinking about when that moment will be for me, when I realize that this isn’t viable anymore, that I want something more stable.
My mother has always encouraged me to think about what will happen when I’m done traveling. After applying for a number of PhD programs over the past few months, I’ve been waffling back and forth about how I feel about going back to school and settling in a more permanent place for a while.
“I don’t know if I’m ready,” I told her. “I feel so young, and there’s so much world left to see. But at what point am I putting off reality? At what point am I going to wish I had done the ‘safer’ thing?”
“So the past four years haven’t been reality?” she asked. “You haven’t made it work?”
I was about to contradict her when she stopped me.
“You and Daniel like to do things a little differently. And you’ve made it work so far. ‘Reality’ will always be there. This opportunity to live a brave life won’t always be.”
The more I thought about it, the more I came to believe she was right. Reality is not a universal perspective, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of my past for an alternative future. It would be strange if we as nomads didn’t question the choice we made to live another type of life.
I’ve always been a person who refuses to have regrets. If I chose to settle down now, I know there would be a part of me that would still be itching to explore more. I would be unsatisfied—even if that meant that I would miss out on some of the highlights of a more stable life.
I want to take a bit more time, to enjoy this period of my life of constant learning and discovery. I want to satisfy any itches I have left to scratch so I don’t look back and wish I had taken a chance when I could have.
I’ll eventually get to the point when I’m ready to give up this voyaging lifestyle. I’m just not there yet.