Seeing as I am currently sitting in my childhood room painting my nails pink and watching the Sex and the City movie, I guess I can’t really proclaim that I am a part of the “real world” quite yet, although the “Graduate of the Honors School” medal and my golden, red, and blue cords hanging on my wall as a result of my Wednesday graduation would say otherwise. However, even though the actual reality of graduation hasn’t really hit me yet, there have been a select few parts of the whole debacle that have squirmed their way into my head.
During my sophomore and junior years of college, I actually wasn’t really sure if I wanted to study abroad. I was afraid to leave my friends and my family, and as silly as this sounds, I didn’t know if it would be worth it to miss out on all the shenanigans of one of my precious last few semesters at school with all the people I had grown to love. It definitely wasn’t one of my deciding factors, but one thing that people (okay, older people) would always stress was, This is the only time in your life you can do something like this.
To me, this sounded so sad! So negative! I knew what I was doing– I knew that upon graduation I would be gainfully employed with a fantastic job, traveling the world and writing, basically living the dream– and why not? I was great!
Ha. Ha. Ha. How sweet. I’m actually glad that no one told me what an idiot I was being because it would have really just made me sad before I really needed to be sad. Now I am a graduate, and I’m slowly but surely realizing that yes, I have a nice resume, but so do eight million other people in the world competing for the exact same entry-level job. Not so sweet. I don’t mean to come off too negative here, because I’m sure things will work out eventually, I just don’t think that time will be when I’m 22 and living in a house with my mom in a town with one traffic light and a general store.
However, being back here, surrounded by lots of other hard-working people down on their luck because of the economy, does make me appreciate the small parts of the world that I have had the pleasure to venture to. I used to silently scoff to myself when people would tell me that they just couldn’t wait to go on their next trip to Point Pleasant or the Poconos. Now, I realize what they were doing. They were doing all they can. With a smile on their face, they’re doing all the traveling that their wallets and their work schedule will allow. Maybe they’re sad they’re not headed to Bali or Vegas this summer, but they’ll never tell you that. They take what they can get and they aren’t bitter about it one bit.
And you know what? I think that this is what a true traveler is. They aren’t someone who necessarily has a bottomless wallet or lives a glamourous life or has their father’s name on their credit card. They aren’t necessarily someone who can boast they have hit every continent.
Instead, they do what they can, and they do it with integrity and dignity. They may be crammed back in their boring hometown where the closest gas station is 15 miles away, and the only vacation they may be able to take will be a three day weekend on their old roommate’s couch. However, this isn’t the point. The point is they’re going somewhere, they’re doing something new, and they’ll be damned if they’re not trying their hardest.
Point Pleasant today, Bali tomorrow.