I’ve recently been hit by the cold water of reality. I’ve awoken to the fact that I put my dreams on hold for the price of my happiness, and it may be too late. Let me explain.
Back in May of this year, I graduated college. I hadn’t given much thought to the specifics of what my life would look like after college, but I always pictured myself traveling. In high school, my favorite books were Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. Like the protagonists of these novels, I saw my life unfolding as a grand journey across many countries. Many of my friends in school were international students who regaled me with stories of their home countries, and this only further served to stoke my wanderlust. There was only one obstacle to this dream: my long-distance girlfriend.
She and I had met the summer before while working at the same island resort. She was from a different state than I, but we vowed that the miles bewtween us wouldn’t separate us. We stayed in contact through letters, Skype, and weekend visits, hoping for the day that we could close the distance for good. Amidst the tumult of my final semester, I was unable to think clearly and determine my next step. So when she proposed that I move in with her following graduation, it seemed to be the most logical move. I figured it would just be a small stop enroute to a life of traveling together.
Half a year later, I’m miserable. We live in her small town, working at the same small coffee shop. She and I talked about vague plans for traveling together, but never attempted to make these plans concrete. Lately, I’ve been feeling the ache of wanderlust stronger than ever. We’ve engaged in some really honest conversations and discovered that while travel has always been my dream, she really just craves the stability of domesticity. We find our lives diverging in different directions.
For the last 6 months, I put my dreams on hold for the sake of an ill-fated relationship. Instead of leaping into the unknown, my partner and I attempted to freeze the fleeting happiness of a summer past. Out here, I miss my friends and family, but I miss the promise of the road more. Over the last few months, I rationalized my decision to move here, accepting that I may never realize my dreams of travel. But the thing about dreams is that they cannot die, only be deferred. Check out this Joseph Campbell quote I found today: “All the life-potentialities that we never managed to bring to adult realization, those other portions of ourself, are there; for such golden seeds do not die. If only a portion of that lost totality could be dredge up into the light of day, we should experience a marvelous expansion of our powers, a vivid renewal of life” (Hero with a Thousand Faces, Pg. 17).
While unsure of where my girlfriend and I now stand, I’m making plans to travel, to really follow my bliss. My advice is that if you come to a crossroads and are forced to choose between your dreams and something else, choose your dreams. Its not worth delaying them any longer. I’m interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience and what you did about it.