You grew up traveling the world. You’ve visited the most exotic places on Earth, lodged in extravagant accommodations overlooking picturesque views, and wined & dined with countless people. Stamped up passports, souvenirs, relics, and photos of you in from of iconic scenes fill up your shelves. For a while, this lifestyle was normal for you (many times you took it for granted). It was wonderful.
Now you’re a college student living in a satellite city. You’re toiling your way through multiple $1000+ classes so that you can finally earn that degree. When you’re not studying or trying to remain healthy, you’re working long hours so you can keep up with rent and student loans (making sure you have enough left over to eat). In other words, you’re now living the life of the average American college student.
The transition between the two lifestyles is not an easy one. The worst parts are the times when you feel alone and out of place (which happens lot).
Perhaps you, the reader, are someone who faces similar issues. If that is the case, I hope the following list will tackle some of them. Even more, I hope that you can find some relief knowing that you’re not the only one.
For those of you who feel like they cannot relate, this entire concept may sound like the ultimate “first world problem.” I encourage you to keep reading, as you (or your children) may face a similar dilemma someday.
1) Unpredictable reactions
Your buddy is telling you and your friends about the one embarrassing time he was at the supermarket and hugged a woman he thought was his mom. After a laugh, you follow up with your story about the time you sat at the wrong airport gate next to two people you thought were your parents, only to realize that your actual parents were at the gate right across from you, saving you from accidently flying to South Korea instead of Spain.
Instead of a laugh, your buddies respond with the oh too familiar “there he goes again with the traveling stories.”
“But…” more or less sums up the feeling this gives you.
It’s misunderstandings like this that cause you to wonder if it is even worth expressing yourself.
Is it worth the risk of being thought of as cocky and arrogant for something you consider small talk? Even worse, is it worth being considered a liar for simply bringing up a fond memory?
The worst part is the fact that your intentions were not bad at all. You were probably just trying to keep the conversation. Instead, your “small talk” put you in a position where these intentions were misunderstood.
This example scenario is just one of many similar ones you’ve faced. After a while, you may even begin to feel ashamed. Ashamed about the way you were raised. Ashamed of reflecting and sharing the beautiful moments you’ve experienced.
How do you reason with someone who puts you in such a mindset? How do you even begin to explain that this is the life you were raised to know? How do you explain that, just like them, you were raised a certain way?
Then there are the people who enjoy such moments. The ones who not only appreciate these memories, but are inspired by them. The ones who don’t feel like you’re talking down to them, but instead realize that, if anything, you’re trying encourage them to learn and pursue a life filled with unique moments.
Perhaps it is these people who will be by your side during such moments in the future.
2) Trying Not To Go Stir Crazy
For years, you’ve constantly moved about. In fact, the longest time you’ve stayed in one particular area has been six months. After this constant change of scenery, you move into your college apartment for the foreseeable future. Before you know it, three years have gone by.
How on Earth do you quench this restlessness?
It’s the little things, of course!
Things like languages, music, foods, people. Before you know it, you’re signing up for multiple international student organizations. You drive three times as far just go visit the Korean supermarket. Your iTunes playlist becomes overrun with non-American songs (most of which you have no idea what are saying). You do as much as you can to engage in different cultures.
Whenever your friend needs a lift to/from the airport, you jump on the opportunity! Why? The airport is a familiar and special place for you! It is the place where people from all over the planet intersect. The place that allows you to literally choose a vessel that will fly you the hell out of wherever you are! It reminds you that you’re not stuck. That there is a world out there just waiting for you to explore.
Some people may find this mindset cheesy, creepy, etc. Why are you so obsessed with such things? Why can’t you just get used to one location and its culture?
3) “Home” Is Not Limited To A Certain Location
We’ve all heard the expression “home is where the heart is.” In other words, home is a place that resonates with you in a positive way. A place where you feel safe, happy, and content. Many of the experiences that shape our lives happen in the home.
In your case, multiple locations have provided you with such moments. You learned humility after visiting the slums of Mumbai, while the purity of the Galapagos taught you the value and beauty of nature. That starry night in Monument Valley is one of your favorite memories you have with your father, while the Williamsburg Bridge was where you and your brother discussed future goals.
After a while, you being to recognize similar moments in your everyday life. Before you know it, “home” is no longer represented as one physical location. The world, along with the countless learning experiences it provides, becomes your home; not encountering them brings about homesickness.
And no one likes homesickness.
Perhaps one or more of the points on this list resonate with you. Perhaps you’re experiencing a different, yet relatable saturation. Either way, I believe it is safe to say without any hesitation that such “issues” are unique.
No, experiencing these problems does not make you “higher” than others. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t have other problems in your life. Unlike many other problems most people face, however, they are rarely experienced, understood, or discussed.
So much so, in fact, that this entire article will more than likely be misunderstood by many! I actually had to stop trying to make this point and accept the fact that this will happen. (You see? You’re not alone).
So, I encourage you to embrace your life.
Be thankful of what you’ve experienced but don’t let it get to your head. Be proud of your upbringing, but remember that not everyone has the same opportunities as you do. Enjoy your current lifestyle, but not too much to where it becomes an unbreakable routine. Encourage others to live such a life, but don’t over-do it. Plan big adventures, but don’t overlook the amazing everyday moments.
Acknowledge the thoughts of others, but don’t shame them for expressing them.
Most of all, remember that we all inhabit an amazing planet surrounded by beauty both near and far. How much of your time are you willing to invest in appreciating it all?