I consider myself as a low-maintenance girl. I don’t go for branded, I don’t club, I don’t really shop and most of the time I go hiking and jogging. I spent most of my money on food, skin care products, and of course travelling. But I don’t usually travel multiple times a year, I make it a point such that when I travel I will be away at least a month. Last year like any fresh graduates, I faced problems like unemployment, sudden loss of freedom, fear of moving on and absolutely no idea what I want in my life.
I started traveling one month after completing my internship which happened to be my last assignment in university. I had less than SGD 1,000 in my bank account after purchasing all the air tickets and the United States Visa cost me SGD 220. The places I have to go are Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States. So I borrowed SGD 3,500 from my parents (I have paid off this loan). Given that I have no study loan to pay but I do have a Tuition Grant Agreement with Singapore where I have to work for 36 months locally which will commence 3 months after I graduate.
Hong Kong and Taiwan are sponsored trip by Hong Kong Tourist Board (find out how I win the trip here) which is totally unexpected. Korea and the United States are my graduation trip destinations (Leave a comment below if you are interested to know how I spent SGD 3,500 in the United States for 50 days across 6 states).
So basically, I was unemployed and I had less than 1k in my bank account. I have to sustain myself for 57 days overseas (7 days in Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Dealing with conflicts
Guilt is an unavoidable emotion in my situation here (parents expectations, peer pressure, and social expectations). I faced a lot of negative responses which are not necessary disapproving but they are discouraging.
Some people told me that I should use this period of time to do something which they deemed as more “appropriate” such as looking for a job or maybe upgrade yourself. They listed out the reasons why I shouldn’t go and I came out with one and the only reason to counter it.
The logic given by them is that I should be financially secured and make plans for the future before thinking about going to “play”. To them, the safe and correct stages of life should be:
There is nothing wrong with the sequence of these stages and definitely nothing wrong with following this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) if this is what you want in life. But if this not what you want, have you ever thought about taking affordable risk in your life? Have you tried to stop worrying about what comes next and live in the moment instead? These are the questions I kept asking myself last year.
People who stop you from doing something are injecting their fear and negativity in your life because these are the risks they dare not take.
Know your risk
The opportunity cost for travelling is that I will miss the golden period to find a job as no one quits at the end of the year. I will face job competition with the new batch of graduates next year. I will be broke and jobless when I’m back. My friends will be employed and living the life the way society expect them to be. I would probably feel depressed because I am falling behind in life.
You have to prepare yourself mentally for all the possible setback when you are back from travelling. Despite all the negative prediction by the majority, I decided to spend my savings and hit the road.
Not all who wander are lost
People travel for different reasons. Other may travel for business and leisure but I travel to find peace. I travel so that I appreciate what I have and reflect on things which I take for granted. I travel to try new things, such as food and activities not available at home. I travel to get lost so that I can find ways to get back to my destination and it helps to build my confidence. More importantly, I travel so that I understand different ways of life.
I was having dinner at a quiet town call Oakhurst, an hour drive away from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. I had my dinner in this small and shabby restaurant which sells Korean-Japanese food. The owner is a Korean who can speak Mandarin, Korean, and English. During my meal there, a middle-aged man walked in and requested for food. He is mentally challenged but he waited patiently outside the restaurant as if it is a normal routine for him. The owner told us that she give the left over to the homeless man every day (I saw the food given to him, it was filled with rice, meat, and vegetables) and I asked her why. She said because it is the right thing to do and how much can a bowl of food cost? This reminds me of a quote “remember your humanity, and forget the rest”.
I learn something new every time I travel.
Home sweet home
Back home safely in mid-October 2015. Emptied my luggage and sorted out my photos. If you ask me whether have I found out what I want in life? My answer is nope. At least I came back with a positive mind and better idea of what work ethics is.
I worked 2 months in a start-up company (November to December) and I realise that isn’t what I want to work for. Subsequently, the job market got better and I received a number of calls from the companies I was interested in. Landed a job in an MNC. I can’t provide a definite answer whether do I like what I am doing now as I am still new in the workforce, there’s a lot for me to explore and experience.
The thing is no one knows what future holds. If I have chosen to stay instead of travelling, I might be ended up in odd jobs while seeking for permanent employment. I wouldn’t be happy and I would probably still feel lost.
Don’t let others tell you what to do. Follow your heart and have faith. In the end, those who provide suggestions/create noise will not be responsible for your life.