You’re 17, 18, 19, ready to finally break free from the constraints of school and parents. You know you’re ready to live on your own terms, likely already got some job and perhaps paying some bills. At times it even seems the only reason you still need your parents is because you’re legally not old enough.
That was definitely the case for me. So as soon as I hit 18 (the legally adult age in the UK), I simply couldn’t wait for final year of school to pass and to move away from my mum.
We all have a somewhat clear idea of the life we’d like to create for ourselves (if you don’t, what are you doing?). All require a, bigger or smaller, pile of cash.
Personally, I’m from the “dreames big but is totally broke” bag. I decided my way of getting the $$$ will be climbing up the meritocracy ladder – undergrad, postgrad, PhD, job promotions ➡️ sky-high salary. As a smart chap, this would be easy for me. Yet, it turned out not to be the case.
Well then, what happened? Brexit happened.
As a relative freshie immigrant, I was no longer entitled to the student loan and couldn’t afford uni. So I deferred my entry and went on a gap year.
Had about £1,200 in savings from working at a pub at the time. After buying some plane tickets, gear and spendings over summer I ended up, on a hot as hell morning of September 15th 2017 in Jakarta, with some £800 to my name.
Fast forward one year, I’m still here (not in Jakarta but on the same island). Only managed to survive financially because I’m not actually travelling but staying mainly in one place on a volunteering basis.
I’ve been finding it really difficult to answer the “so what do you do there?” question. From the outside it looks so exciting: “wow Tropics”, “wow beaches”, “wow cute Instagram pictures”.
So here it comes… I actually put my hands in horse sh**, place it in a polybag, add some bacteria, worm juice (from a worm farm I also put my bare hands in), biochar and (attempt to) grow my food.
Now, don’t get me wrong, to me, it is very much exciting, might just not be your cup of tea.
I garden, or more learn to garden because it is part of my goal life scenario. I live with people who know more and correct me. I have access to resourceful books and time to figure out what it is that I am naturally drawn to when there is no imposed curriculum or schedule.
In the meantime, I plot how to make money without compromising my values by doing something that matters. I think it’s important you find what that something is for you. Have given it a lot of thought and in all honesty, the only thing that comes to my mind really as objectively being something that matters is health and ecosystem restoration, which, in practice, are intertwined together.
What I’m getting at:
- Decide what sort of life you’re aiming for; factor in how you’d like to feel mentally, physically since your lifestyle will hugely determine that.
- Look up your route options for getting there and exactly there; what qualifications, what kind of investment, how much time?
- Don’t give in too much into the “I’m young, still got time” mindset; yes, true, so put it to use that will yield, not waste it.
- Take the risk and deal with it.
Is a degree* something that truly is part of that idea of awesome life you hold or are you just using it as an excuse to not have to get your act together in the real world for the next 3-5 years? To get the “student” pass whenever your inadequacies show? Or do you simply don’t believe in yourself enough to succeed, so you need a degree as the so-called backup?
*I’m referring to university/whatever higher qualification/particular job
For me, it was all those and I felt stupid. To follow through with my old plan would be a waste of my most precious years doing something that is not leading me to where I want to be; frankly is not even on the same map. Yet, I was ready to do it to stay in my sphere of comfort, to gain time to “worry about it later”.
That might be the complete opposite of your case. The intention of sharing mine is to remind you that you’re not doomed to live a life you don’t want, should you be experimental enough to try some other options.
Face your demons! You will have to figure everything out for yourself eventually, the sooner you start the better.
So you know what? I’ll give it all I got.
“What about your future?”
If my time since graduating turns out, in the worst case, to have been invested without future monetary return and I’m forced to change my path, that’s alright. That is because whatever I embark on next if I do, will be for the right motives, not just to postpone facing the hard questions.
So that’s where I’m at right now and will keep you posted.
What about your future?