Delaying the Inevitable
I lead what I would call a privileged life; one in which I’ve been granted ample opportunity to broaden my knowledge though studying at a post secondary institution one province away from home. I’m from one of the most beautiful cities in the world, yet, I chose to spend my parent’s money to work my ass off toward a degree that I can’t even guarantee will land me a job that I’ll love. If this isn’t considered privilege, then someone needs to tell me what is.
I live in a generation that worships free choice and the liberty to do whatever we damn well please, and sadly, despite what our parents want to believe, this isn’t exactly an exaggeration. You would assume with the stifling numbers of high school graduates going to university—many of whom are earning degrees that are paid for by their parents (guilty as charged)—that all students would immediately jump from being a student to a professional once they graduate. But from my perspective as a student, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Rather than graduate and get hired for a full-time job that we will keep for the rest of our working lives, my generation is doing something ‘different’. Not only are we job hopping every few years, but many of us aren’t even looking for careers once we graduate. We’re working at coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, despite having spent the last four years of our lives working for that crazy expensive piece of paper we call a degree. Some of us are even living at home again because we can’t afford to own or rent our own place, and so once again, we’re back in the nest we once flew away from. Others are dropping out of school out of the blue or switching institutions part way through their degree because they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. And of course, there are the ones who graduate, and then have the sudden urge to do what university and a stable work life could not and will never let them do: travel. I can’t say that I know the answer to why these trends are happening, but I also can’t help but feel that I’m just as guilty of making the same decisions.
I’m a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Calgary and I will be moving back home to Vancouver once I convocate in April. My plan, like other millennials, is to save up enough money over the summer while I work at the highest paying job I can land so that I can travel for a few months starting in September. On my list of to-visit is southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.
So my question is, is our generation delaying the inevitable? Are we avoiding work and doing whatever the hell we please because we’re more privileged than our parents? Or, are we simply more free spirited and inclined to tap into the newfound freedoms that our parents never had as young adults?
All throughout my life, I’ve consistently been told that I need to get an education in order to get a respectable, high paying job. University is the key, or the answer to my life long puzzle—according to my parents, anyway. I was never fully sure that I wanted to go to university, or study communications for that matter. I only did so because it was the logical thing to do and it was an easy way to please my parent’s, whom I’ve always respected since I was young. After all, what kind of job would I be able to get without a degree? So inevitably, off I went into the ‘real world’ of university; and it’s ironic, because even though I’m about to graduate, the ‘world’ I’ve experienced is so far off from what the real world actually entails, the two wouldn’t even fit in the same Venn Diagram.
For me, travelling is not so much a way to delay the inevitable; it’s more so a way to find a sense of fulfillment in my life that university has neglected to give me. Yes, I’ve made amazing friends and I’ve learned life lessons that I could have never become knowledgeable of without university, but much of what I have done in university (joining clubs, extra curricula’s, going to events, etc.) has been a part of the equation that leads to that ultimate ‘goal’—a degree. It wasn’t for my personal happiness, and it definitely wasn’t because I was passionate about doing any of those things. Rather than fire my enthusiasm to learn and satisfy my longing to explore my interests, university seemed to just drain me of any and all excitement about life that I had prior to becoming an institutionalized student.
And that’s why I’m travelling. I’m not avoiding life—a statement that I’ve repeatedly been confronted with—or taking the easy way out. I’m simply listening to my urge to discover more than what the four walls of a systematic institution can teach me. I’m taking ‘me’ time to do things that scare the sh*t out of me, learn about other cultures, meet amazing people, see the beautiful wonders of the world and get out of my sheltered North American bubble. I’m taking little with me and I’m planning to return with no more than when I leave. I’m going to collect memories, not things, and I’m going to pursue something that I’ve wanted to discover since God knows when. If travelling is going to teach me anything, it will do so through trial and error, not timed exams and multiple-choice tests.
If all of this isn’t reason enough do what society keeps telling me I shouldn’t, then I don’t know when I’ll ever get such an incredible opportunity ever again.