As my departure date rapidly approaches for my next adventure, a job at a children’s foundation in Tanzania, I am overwhelmed with mixed feelings. It was just two short but inexplicably long months ago that I publicly confessed my discontent and pure exhaustion from traveling. Now here I am, a few weeks away from embarking on the biggest adventure I’ve ever endeavored.
The appeal of traveling slowly started creeping back in while I was busy trying to distract myself with settling down. Despite immensely enjoying and appreciating all the wonderful amenities available in the states, I am eager to try something new and to pull out my backpack once more. I’m honestly thrilled (I chose that word carefully for its reference to both fear and excitement). It is not just big because it is Tanzania, and I’ve been dreaming about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for 6 years when I first learned of its intriguing ecosystems and various biomes. But rather it is because it is the first time that I am doing what I truly want to do (without settling for something close enough).
For as long as I can remember, I have said that I wanted to help people less fortunate than me. I wanted a job that I was passionate about, not just something to pay the bills. I wanted it to incorporate traveling, writing, poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment, children’s rights and global health. It took me a while to narrow it down to a more specific purpose for my life, but it all lead me to this. This being the leap of faith I am taking to finally live up to the goals I always put off for the future. I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I can feel how different this is than the other times I have hopped on a plane and blindly leaped into the unknown. This will challenge and humble me in an entirely new way. It will be the starting block to the career that I so desperately hope for, combining all my passions and goals for both my personal growth and my professional development.
My master’s program in Australia was a wonderful learning experience but its true purpose was to buy time. It was merely a way to postpone the inevitable day when I would have to face the responsibilities of adulthood. Which let’s be honest, you get to avoid while you are a student. Your world pauses while you take your exams and write your essays. The pressure to settle down, can quickly be diverted with “I’m a student.” It’s not only an occupation option on forms, but a respectable excuse for a lack of career job, boyfriend, savings account, and any other adult responsibilities.
So when the pages on the calendar started getting thinner, I panicked (quite literally) and pursued teaching English in Peru. I justified that as a responsible choice, because it was in the ballpark of international development and seemed to be relevant enough work experience. However besides a handful of spanish phrases, a couple bacterial infections, some trekking accomplishments to add to my photo albums, and a few incredible new friends, I am still in the same place I was the day I graduated with my Bachelors.
After all the dust had settled and I sat down to reflect on the last few years of my life, I realized that I can’t keep running. But if I must run, then it has to be towards my career. So hopefully Tanzania will be everything I need, and when I’m done, I will be one giant step closer to where I am meant to be.