I’m Irish, I’m 29 and I haven’t been to Australia. I haven’t been on a J1 to the States, I haven’t been inter-railing around Eastern Europe, and I haven’t gone Island hopping in Indonesia.
Every social situation I find myself in ends up with people comparing stories from their travels and all I’ve got to offer are a few holidays I’ve been on for a week or two here and there. I’m not saying I am disadvantaged for ‘only’ being on shorter holidays, not at all. I’ve had some great holidays and lots of shenanigans. I worked hard for those holidays and there will be plenty more to come.
I finished my degree at 20 and apart from some part-time local shop jobs at the beginning, I’ve been self-employed since then. No safe fortnightly or monthly wage in my account, no sick days, no holiday pay, no savings, no pension prospects. I found out very early what my dream job was and I’ve been working hard at it since.
While I was working and forging my way as a self-employed music teacher and musician I had some lessons to learn. My friends were away and seeing their amazing pictures online every few weeks was at times a hard pill to swallow. Sunsets, sunrises, beaches miles long, hidden treasures of the world, and natural phenomena were a regular feature on my Facebook feed for at least 4 years. I would look outside and it would be still the same view, usually raining. I had to learn to be ok with that view and to make my life and career one worth staying for.
I was often tempted to drop everything and go. The thing is, being self-employed is far more than just a job. If I dropped everything right at this moment I would be leaving over 100 students without a music teacher. I would be breaking the bond I have with all those children who come to my house every week to learn music and have done for many years. So I wouldn’t just be leaving my job, I would be leaving my career and I feel I would be undoing all the hard work and training I’ve done for almost 10 years now.
I learned that I didn’t have to go away to figure out who I was. I knew, deep down, somewhere. I didn’t have a vision of who I wanted to be or what I wanted to be doing but I had a sense of the kind of person I wanted to be and I think right now at 29 I am who I want to be. Had I gone traveling who knows where I’d be or what I would be doing. Maybe I’d be back here doing the same thing, just 2 or so years behind. Maybe I’d be a different person with different ideals and morals and maybe that would have been great too.
I had to learn not to be jealous of other people’s lives and to not be jealous of their adventures or of their lifestyles. That’s not exactly easy when it rains for months on end here and everyone is sharing their bikini and BBQ pics! I learned to appreciate the little things in life and by doing so I learned that the little things are the big things.
I got to spend time with people who are no longer around. I got to learn how to teach a child and not just make them happy but to teach them how to feel happy about themselves. I learned that Ireland is beautiful even in the rain. I learned that a child with Aspergers, Autism, or Dyspraxia needs music lessons more than I need a Thai massage on a beach somewhere. I learned from all those travelling updates and pictures that Indonesia will be a gorgeous place to go on honeymoon next Summer after I marry the guy I spent the last 8 years not travelling with and yeah we’re pretty ok with that!
I didn’t get to find myself or lose myself in a foreign country. That’s fine though, I knew where I was the whole time.