For Better or For Worse

As the days of summer get shorter and my weeks of chasing around a galavanting 1-year-old and a too-smart-for-his-own-good 5-year-old come to an end, I catch my mind drifting into the depths of wanderlust for about 75% of my waking hours. It is finally starting to sink in that I’m about to throw some excitement into my hitherto mundane post-grad life. In about a month and a half, I will be leaving on a jet plane and literally have no idea when I’ll be back again (meh, well sometime before next May).

Many of you that are reading this probably already know that I accepted a position as a Teach for America corps member back in October; what you may not know is that I decided to defer that opportunity until the 2015-2016 school year to travel solo for a year. HELLO IRRATIONAL AND SPONTANEOUS PAOLA, where did you come from? You might be thinking to yourself the exact same questions that play over and over in my type-A mind like a broken record. In no particular order mine usually consist of:

  • Paola, why are you even doing this?
  • Won’t you be lonely?
  • Wait, aren’t you still a broke college student?
  • Shouldn’t you be starting a job/becoming a real adult?

The broken record seems to skip most around the ‘won’t you be lonely?’ and ‘shouldn’t you be starting a job/becoming a real adult?’ questions. So far I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m an ’emotions’ type of gal throughout my blog posts. Well, I’ll let you all in on a little secret: I’m also a pretty social being too. SHOCKER, I know. Not only social in the sense that I get a little offended when the 30-something woman in the seat next to me on an airplane chooses not to befriend me, but in the sense that I value relationships something fierce. As I’ve gotten older and, especially in this transitional time in my life, I have come to see this is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the sense that I love hard and care deeply about my friends and family, but a curse in the sense that I’m also pretty self-critical within friendships and also suffer from weird separation anxiety from my friends…in the most non-weird way possible? See how this can be an issue when graduating college and then leaving everyone for a year? ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ keeps flashing in big bright-lighted letters each time my eyes are closed. What’s comical about it, though, is I know I’m batshit crazy for thinking this.

Part 2 of that annoying skip on a record cd when your computer doesn’t buffer fast enough – darting from the real world and marrying this idea reality of exposing my bubbling wanderlust. I came across a Huff Post travel blog a few months ago and, at the time, had no idea how big of an impact it would make on my traveling mindset. It is titled ‘I Thought the World Would Stop Turning When I Left Home to Go Travel’ and, boy, I’m convinced it’s the only piece of composition that I need to read up until September. Joanna, the author, talks through her struggles of missing out on life at home while she is away and the tantalizing thoughts of best friends making other best friends and so on and so forth. It’s scary to think about my resume and networking and internships and feel as if I’m throwing them out the window into the Pacific as we fly over it. It’s even more scary to think of all the life that will happen within the circles of my friends and family – how much of it I will find out through a text, and maybe if I’m lucky, a Skype call.

With all this in mind I know I need to put that worry behind me, and remind myself of the immense opportunity that lies ahead. I have the rest of my life to start a career and have a boyfriend and drink wine with my friends – who knows the next time I will be able to hop on a plane and head to [insert random country here] just because I want to climb a certain volcano or taste their national dish.

So, today, rather than to choose dwelling over how far up the corporate ladder my college peers are climbing or what late night chats my best friends are having together, I vow to accept that change is inevitable – to accept that the world will, indeed, keep turning after I leave home to travel. I vow to welcome growth with open arms and to stop ‘mourning what I’m missing’. For better or for worse (say, a shower head catches on fire while I’m shampooing), in sickness and in health (that doesn’t mean I can’t knock on wood I keep my perfect health track record while traveling though), I vow to embrace my travels and adventures without resentment.

Enough with the sappy stuff and now for the bubbling wanderlust, I’m ready to get a couple more red pins on that map and bring back even more stories to accompany them.

Crowdsourcing the internet starts now: spots in Colombia and Argentina I need to hit? I’ll be living in Bogota, Colombia from around September through mid-October and in Buenos Aires, Argentina from mid-October to December (and who’s to say there won’t be any Peruvian or Venezuelan excursions?). I’ll take anything folks – travel tips, adventure spots, must-see landscapes – throw ’em at me!



P.S for those of you just waiting for updates on my mom, they’re coming. I promise.

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