What Do You Have to Show for Your Life?

It’s weird coming home after you’ve been gone for a while.

All of the articles out there say that “nothing ever changes” in one’s hometown, and that perhaps the most depressing part about coming home from travelling is that your friends are all doing the same thing, drinking in the same pubs, gossiping about the same people and ordering the same thing from the same takeaway every Friday night.

But it’s not the same.

When I left home in January 2016, my friends and I were all at pretty similar stages in our lives. We were earning similar amounts of money, we all had jobs that were good but not great, we didn’t own cars or property and we weren’t about to get married or have children any time soon.

For me, all of those things still remain true.

But not for my friends.

My friends now own businesses, drive Mercedes’ and go to wedding fairs. I have friends who have mortgages. I have friends of friends who are having babies. 

And what am I doing?

I’m sleeping on a single bed at my parents’ house, on a lumpy mattress that I’ve had for about 15 years. I take the bus everywhere, I’m single and I can’t even be trusted enough to look after a hamster, never mind a baby!

On paper, I’m really not doing too well.

I’m not trying to sell you a sob story here. My life is the way it is because I’ve chosen for it to be this way. I’ve had exactly the same opportunities as all of my friends, but I’ve chosen to be in this position.

When my friends were furthering their careers and saving up for house deposits, I was buying plane tickets and sleeping in dorm beds. I’ve lived hand to mouth, working 40+ hours for two meals a day and a few drinks, selling boat tickets, pub crawl tickets and party tickets for a couple of dollars commission. I’ve stood outside bars doing “promo,” promising people that they’ll have the best night of their lives if they come and drink in my bar, because that’s what I had to do to eat that day. I’ve lived in what can only be described as poverty, because luxuries like hot water, reliable electricity and flushing toilets are what you have to sacrifice if you want to wake up to a view like this:

koh rong, paradise island

But while I may not have achieved much in the material sense, I have achieved something.

I’ve made friends with people from all over the world, travelled solo across South East Asia, and learned about other cultures. I’ve eaten crickets, beetles, scorpions and snakes. I’ve swum with plankton. I’ve woken up to the sounds of waves lapping the shore and fishermen laughing and joking. I’ve sped around Vietnam on the back of a motorbike, and walked through rice paddies, tea plantations and strawberry farms. I’ve helped Cambodian kids with their English homework and sat around campfires as the sun sets.

I’ve seen and done more than I could ever cover in this blog, even if I spent every day for the rest of my life trying to.

I’ve spent 16 months in Asia and it’s been fantastic.

But none of my experiences are more valid or important than the ones of my friends who have stayed at home. My experiences don’t make me any more interesting than anyone else.

All experiences are equal.

As long as you’re doing what’s right for you, and not just what you should be doing, then you’re doing the right thing. Your biggest achievement could be a baby, a degree, a high salary or a passport full of stamps.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you’re happy and fulfilled.

In the same vein, what is a huge achievement for one person may be a drop in the ocean for another.

To give an example, yesterday I got 1800 views on my blog. That’s way more than I usually get in a day. Like, quadruple what I usually see on my analytics page.

That number is nothing for the bigger travel bloggers out there. They see traffic like that in minutes. But for me its an achievement. It deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged, even if someone else, somewhere else, is achieving more than me.

And it’s exactly the same with my travel experiences. Sure, I may not have a house or a car or a promotion or a husband but I’ve got freedom, and freedom is all I want right now.

Likewise, the people who have what I don’t may not have freedom in the way that I have, but they have security. 

I guess all I’m trying to say is, YOU DO YOU. 

If you choose not to travel, you’re no better than someone who does choose to live a life on the road. But equally, if you do choose to travel, it doesn’t make you smarter or more interesting than someone who hasn’t.

If we were all the same, life would be very boring.


17 thoughts on “What Do You Have to Show for Your Life?”

  1. I absolutely LOVE this. I’ve been on the road for two years and couldn’t agree more. I really hate the travel snobbery about there and think as long as people are doing what makes them happy that’s all that matters. So true that life would be very boring if we were all the same

  2. I can totally relate. I rambled around for years in Hawaii and around the Southeast, had a great time but by the time I was in my late 20s I freaked out about where I was in life. It really is all about balance and doing what you want and feeling good about it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Travelling Jezebel

      Yeah I had a bit of a freakout when I got home at Christmas and saw how much all my friends were doing haha. Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed (and it’s nice to know that someone feels the same!)

  3. Very true. I feel friends won’t talk about their travel plans with me, because they think I am not interested in camping trips to France with the kids, as I just returned from solo travel in Iran. But I do. I love all talk about travel or what they’ve been up to. And yes I want to hear about their child getting their diploma for swimming and I’d like them to ask about my baby (the blog). LOL All experiences are good because they are real. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Travelling Jezebel

      Exactly! Just because the way that someone choose to live isn’t the way that YOU choose to live, doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or interesting! Thanks for commenting πŸ˜€

  4. I loved this. You are really funny. “I’m not doing well on paper”. I may be biased but those travel experiences make you a very interesting person and as you go through life you will see how it affects everything you do in a positive way!

  5. This is so true! And I can totally relate. But considering that I live in Asia, people assume that I have plenty of money because I can afford to travel. What they haven’t realized that while they splurge, I save.
    Although on the other hand, my engineering classmates are certainly financially secure. It’s good to be able to have relate πŸ™‚

    1. Travelling Jezebel

      Exactly! I save over 2/3 of my weekly income just to be able to afford to travel, and when I DO travel, I do it cheaply! Thank you for reading πŸ™‚

  6. I love that you can love what you do without ceasing to love others that didn’t do it. So many of us crave reassurance that we’re making the right choice, by having everyone agree that it was.

  7. I identify so much with this! I don’t travel full time and haven’t traveled as much as I would like in the past couple years. I read all this stuff about why you need to quit your job and travel but the truth is, I like working full time and having a steady income and a home base. At the same time, I’m not looking to have kids and buy a house, so I feel like I’m at this sort-of awkward middle ground! What you say is so true: all experiences are equal and what you or I choose doesn’t make one of us better than the other. Thanks so much for writing this πŸ™‚

    1. Travelling Jezebel

      I feel exactly like you! I’ve spent most of the last 2 years on the road, but since I came home at Christmas, I’ve been thinking that I’d rather for on shorter, more frequent trips for a while, so that I can still come home (and repack my bag!!!) more often. It doesn’t make us any less of a traveller though! Thank you for commenting, glad you liked it πŸ˜€

  8. Wow I just read this now and it resonated with me so much!! It’s something I’ve though about a lot lately. Thank you for sharing this ?

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