The much-anticipated post college life—when you’re so often motivated to ride the waves of what society deems “the right way of doing things” that you don’t consider other options as realistic. You tend to weigh areas in your life on a scale of importance, but sometimes the weight in certain regions becomes a bit heavier than desired. The heavily weighted area for me was my expected future until I carried the load and started living it.
When does the load get heavier?
So senior year of college starts out pretty great, right? You’ve reached the level of comfort knowing that you have an extra year of experience under your belt. Not to mention that you’re delighted about being familiar with your campus & professors at this point, excited to get back to your friends, and filled with joy that you’re almost done stressing from the pressures of keeping up with your GPA. I’m here to tell you that, generally, the stress usually inclines as your senior year continues (for different reasons), BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO. Of course I understand that every person’s situation is different, so I’m not saying that this is the formula to reducing anxiety for everyone (what a dream come true that would be though).
When your graduation takes place at the average age of 21, you could have it all figured out or pretend like you do. Whatever makes you happy, or other people happy. 😉 When I graduated though, I was a couple of years older than the average age, and naturally put that pressure on myself to know what I’m doing for the rest of my life. ‘Newsflash Nanor! How foolish of you to think that you can plan for life, so you should just plan for the next 5 years,’ I’d tell myself. Too bad I couldn’t even do that. I felt like there was something that needed to spin me off my mundane routine of life, and that was traveling. I’d read so many articles of people’s dying thoughts being that they wished they had lived life for themselves more than anything. (Read the main article I’m talking about) And if dying people were also saying that they regretted working so much, how was I supposed to dive head first into the job market?
I began looking at life like it was actually a full on game (gambling and all), and that’s when I started winning…intrinsically. When I had thought about diving into the full-time job market, the subsequent thought came up: ‘Damn. If I start working right away, when’s my next vacation gonna be?’ When you’re exhausted, you don’t observe your capabilities to their fullest potential, which becomes a snowball effect accumulating more and more issues keeping you stuck, so I wanted a full-time breather to take on the full-time career.
The time after college is truly the only time in your life that you can live for yourself.
Let’s face it—our 20’s are gonna be our selfish years so that we’re able to give during our 30’s, and I’m okay with that! It’s a part of the game. The players can’t be passing their hypothetical jewels or energy to others if they haven’t had time playing and collecting jewels for themselves first. Just like how there’s a rule in airplanes that instructs you to secure your mask first, in the case of an emergency, before you can help others.
At any rate, before I knew it, half of the summer had gone by and it was time to book my travels. I had saved money because it’s in my nature to have funds for a rainy day, but I hadn’t foreseen saving far enough for a rainy half-year. Luckily, I have supportive parents, step-parents, and grandparents who encourage my nutty ideas. So I did it. I got my one way tickets, and I left Los Angeles with the mission to shift my perspective.
With my books packed, cameras prepared, summer clothes in my suitcases and winter clothes being shipped in boxes to my final destination, I was ready to say ‘brb’ to my family. I didn’t celebrate my birthday with my parents (only my sisters when we got to the East Coast and there wasn’t even a cake involved), I didn’t celebrate my mom’s birthday with her in September, and I won’t be with my sister for her birthday in December. There can be negative aspects to this form of adjustment, but not enough to make me change my mind. I had student loans (and still do) that I was supposed to worry about along with a beautiful credit card statement, but it just didn’t seem to flash any red flags. My car’s lease was over, so we returned it. The lease for the apartment we were renting as four roommates was up, and since none of us wanted to renew it, we said goodbye to that. So many things were supposed to scare me, but why wasn’t I spooked at all?
I continued playing the game.
As life goes on, it becomes harder to carve out time for even our closest of loved ones. My sisters and I, with a bond that’s indescribable, planned a full week in Washington D.C.. An Airbnb in Maryland, uninterrupted bonding time, and the schedule to do whatever our hearts desired. We generally enjoy doing grocery shopping during our stay at Airbnbs in different cities to get a feel of the lifestyle, and luckily the huge market was across the street from our place. We were in heaven. It was our first trip without our parents, and we made a pact that it wouldn’t be our last.
After the week was gone and only a distant memory, they went back to LA for school, and I made my way to Israel. With my paternal relatives living in Haifa and Jerusalem, I spent an equal amount of time with each, alongside my arabic translation book conjoined to my hip. I had made the mistake of purchasing something that was only in the formal form, and kept making adjustments to attempt to fit in. There was just so much I was learning, both history and language, and so much beauty I was witnessing, that writing in my journal couldn’t quite keep up. I started my blog.
Once my 3 weeks in Israel had ended, I was happy to say the troubles of airport security were in my past. Since I didn’t have my Israeli passport on me, I found myself dealing with the worst baggage check of my life—to the point where the bottom of my bare feet were checked along with the zipper on my sweater and every single page of every single book I had with me. The ironic thing was, I was so happy that they were so thorough with their checks, but I did wish it was an objective process. I made my flight with 5 minutes to spare, and Armenia grew to be only 2 hours away.
My first week in Armenia flew by since I no longer needed to adjust to the time change (I did that my first week in Israel). It was time to get to work. I had wanted to work in another country for a period of time in my life, and I thought, ‘What better country to work in than my motherland?’ I secured an internship at an NGO the second week, got acquainted with my coworkers, and finally started to settle in Yerevan. Since my first assignment at work was to be a vlog style impressions video, I had to get comfortable speaking in front of the camera. It was exciting spreading the news about what fun things were coming to Armenia, as well as what projects various nonprofits were implementing, so I started my Youtube channel.
My comfort zone had become only a mere illusion of my past.
I was starting to feel what I sensed was different from my usual perceptions. It was because I kept trying new things in new places. ‘If that’s not the breath of fresh air you need after the routine of college, then I don’t know what is,’ I kept thinking to myself. Believe it or not, all of the people I had the pleasure of meeting and everything I had learned leading up to the 4th month of being a nomad steered me to continue my education. I started looking into Masters programs.
The conscious decision to take time off is something I’ll never regret, and I’ll always thank my family for supporting me. I do understand that it’s a privilege, and I appreciate it’s benefits to an immense degree. It’s taught me that family is an incredibly invaluable aspect of life, that stepping out of our comfort zones can only lead in growth (a pretty strong statement to make), and that the truth in figuring out who we want to be in life is only a plane ticket away and the journey of a lifetime.