Either way you look at it, someone’s telling you what to do. Whether on the conventional or unconventional side of things, these people sound like they have it all figured it out, and so you listen, because you don’t have a clue.
Well, what if I told you they have no idea what they’re talking about?
When I was a kid, my parents told me there was a Santa Claus and I truly believed it. My uncle told me Star Wars was based on a true story; turned out it wasn’t. My diabetes health care team told me there would be a cure within the next ten years, so I waited, and waited, and twenty+ years later, I’m still waiting. When I was a teen, I got the impression if I didn’t have my classes and post-secondary program of choice sorted out prior to provincial exams, I was a bad student. As a young adult, when I decided to get more fit and joined a boot camp, I was told muscle eats fat; this is not true. I was once told everything happens for a reason; also not true.
The point is, people are wrong about things all the time. So when someone makes you feel like you should have a family by your 30s, or you should sell all your things and spend that money to travel and gain life experiences, there’s a good chance they’re talking out of their posterior.
Someone you know quit their job and is now successfully spending their days hiking, climbing, skiing, and traveling? Good on them. Let me know how that goes in ten, twenty years when their hobbies are outdated, they’re too old to get sponsored, they’ve tapped out their financial resources, and they have zero savings. Someone you know has two degrees, a professional designation, and makes six+ figures a year? That’s pretty sweet. Let me know they feel around retirement, when their best years have passed by and they don’t have the energy or ability to enjoy life. Talk to a retired nomad and they’ll tell you they wish they saved some money and planned for the future. Talk to a baby boomer, they’ll tell you they wished they didn’t rush things and took the time to enjoy life. Talk to someone who is 100% content and has things balanced… oh wait, you can’t, that person doesn’t exist.
So here’s what I think. Those people who tell you what to do, what you should enjoy, and what you should want out of life; they have no idea. The template for how you should live your life isn’t coming from an expert, it’s coming from someone who made some decisions that were right for them, at a specific time in their lives, and they made it work for them, for now. That’s a long sentence to absorb, so I’ll break it down further. What’s right in the moment may not be right in the medium or long term. What’s right for someone may not be right for you.
In 2015, I quit my job and went back to school. During my first summer as a student, I took an extra light course-load and tried to enjoy my free time as much as possible. About midway through summer, I was counting down the days to the first week of school. I didn’t enjoy my time off and I needed structure. I thought something was wrong with me for not jumping on the forget-the-conventional-and-do-what-you-want train, not wanting to climb every mountain, and taking my time off for granted. That’s when I realized, it just wasn’t for me.
The whole world is a marketing ploy designed to keep you wanting more and buying more. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get an education and aim for a high paying job; I’m also not saying you shouldn’t quit your job and travel the world to gain more experiences; I’m saying you should be aware of the motivations of people trying to tell you how you should live your life. Be the person you want to be; not what others tell you to be.
As for me? I quit my job (unconventional), went back to school (conventional), so I can work for either myself or someone else (conventional) and include the great outdoors in my job description (unconventional). I’m pretty much trying to milk the best of both worlds, I’ll tell you how it goes.
So what’s better? The conventional society of: get married, buy a house, have kids, and settle down, or the unconventional society of: quit your job, sell your things, and travel everywhere? They’re the exact same. They are a means to an end of self-fulfillment. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s up to you to choose your own path.