How a Bad Economy Brought Me Back to Wanderlust

I graduated from college with some highfalutin dreams.  Filled with the rage and activist spirit that comes with being a serious social sciences student for four years, I knew what I was going to do.  Oh yes! I was going to do a few of years of non-profit work, apply to grad school, eventually earn a Ph.D., and reach for that shining star of academic tenure.  But that idealism came to a screeching halt when I started applying for non-profit jobs while still in college.  I can’t be sure, but I think I spent half of my final undergrad semester writing my thesis and the other half applying for jobs.  I produced a successful thesis, but my job hunt was not as fruitful.  And by not as fruitful, I mean my dozens of applications obviously ended up in everybody’s spam folder since I received ZERO responses.


I came home and got involved with an array of volunteer organizations.  I continued my quest for a job with a higher purpose for a few months. Then the loan man popped up in my e-mail reminding me that soon it would be time for me to pay for all of that higher learning.  At that point, I had to get real.  I scoured job listings multiple times a day.  I applied for all sorts of positions in bookstores and offices and grocery stores and restaurants.  Most of the time my applications were met with silence.  Other times, they were met with “blah, blah, blah, you don’t have the skills we want. Bye.”  But what kind of skills do I need to re-stock a grocery shelf?  My cover letter clearly stated that I have an eye for organization!

I felt desperate and overwhelmed in a weak economy.  I began to Google ways to just make money: How to make money from home; How to work as a freelancer; How to start your own business; Legal ways to make money with nothing but a multi-thousand dollar college degree.  As I was doing this, I ran into the kind of blogs that I had fan-girled over as a teenager: travel blogs.

Travel bloggers were talking about the multitude of strategies that they use to keep themselves afloat and fuel their adventures.  Reading through their ideas and suggestions, I suddenly remembered a part of myself that I had put away as childish fancy.  I had wanted to be one of these travelers!  I had planned to be, but then bigger problems had crept into my mind and pushed out space for much else.  Why couldn’t I be one?

Just as I was prepared to leap into the world with nothing but a sense of adventure and a toothbrush, an e-mail came that brought me back to earth.  Was I available for an interview? YES.  Next thing I knew, I was planted in a felt and plexiglass cubicle living that hourly life.  But while I was planted (and still am) roots could not take hold.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the daily grind with fluorescent lights washing away my complexion and my hope.  Wanderlust had found its way back into my life and wouldn’t go away.  Eventually, I know that I will have no choice but to heed its siren call.  And when that time comes, I’ll be more than ready to go.

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