It seems like everywhere I turn nowadays, I see advertisements encouraging young people in their twenties and thirties to quit their jobs and go traveling. There are tons of articles on how to make money from travel blogging or travel vlogging. There are even companies offering you to pay them for a year so you can work and travel at the same time. While it does sound nice and all, I can’t help but feel like the we’re losing touch with the reason for why we travel in the first place.
Is it to gain new experiences and learn about new cultures, or is it so we can document our fancy traveling lives and show off to our friends and family how free-spirited we are? It’s starting to feel more and more like the latter, and less and less like the former, which is why I recently turned down an opportunity to travel to Spain for a year.
Three months ago, while I was in the process of trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, I applied to teach English in Spain. I was so overjoyed by the prospect of being able to live in Spain for a year. So excited in fact, that I actually forgot to ask myself, is teaching English really what you want to do for another year? When I heard back from the program, I found out I was accepted, but not in the region that I had chose. I was offered a position in another city, a beautiful coastal city called Murcia. At first it sounded wonderful. Live in a beach town in Spain for a year and only teach 12 hours per week? That sounds like a vacationer’s dream!
Then it all hit me.
The reason why I like to travel in the first place is not just to see new sights and relax. It may sound crazy to some of you, but I don’t want to be perpetually on vacation. I like challenges and doing new things that help me grow as a person. I want to develop and gain new professional skills.
I’m not saying that teaching English in Spain is not a challenge at all, but I’ve been teaching the last two years and I feel I’ve learned all that I want from it. If I go to Spain, I know that I will be discontent with my choice, because I know that I did not challenge myself to the max. It will be like me taking a backseat when I know I should’ve been driving. And that’s an uncomfortable feeling for me.
So yes, I could be sitting on the beach in a few months from now, sipping on a cocktail and taking some awesome selfies, but I don’t think that’s the life I want. If this was a few years ago I might’ve accepted it in a heartbeat and be okay with it, but now I just feel like I’ve grown out of that phase in my life.
It wasn’t easy for me to give up the possibility of living abroad in Spain for a year. I kept wondering if I was giving up the opportunity of a lifetime. Then I realized my ego was getting in the way of me making a clear judgement. I wanted to keep traveling so bad that I’ve forgotten why I’m even traveling in the first place. My ego wanted to take me to Spain just so I can say I did it. My ego wanted me to showoff a fantastic lifestyle abroad so I can be the heart of everyone’s envy. Then I realized that’s not me, that’s my ego talking. The real me doesn’t really care what people think of me. I’m not doing this so I can show off to others. I want to do it for me.
Does your ego cloud your judgement and get in the way of what you really want sometimes?