On Sacrifices And Why It Is Always Worth It To Pursue Your Happiness
Does this mean I have to wait longer to have grandchildren?
With her best pouty face and an inflection in her voice that didn’t even try to mask her despondency, my loving mother posed this question to me when I informed her about my plans to travel the world.
I had planned to buy a house in the near future, move out and become a big boy from then on. Society would be so proud of me: contributing to the economy, bringing women back to my home instead of the basement of my parent’s, paying property taxes and going to Ikea to find the proper palette of furniture with which to paint myself expressively in my newfound living room. It is exactly where I should have been by 30 years old, shouldn’t it?
But something felt off…
A year ago I had successfully achieved the life goals that I had set out two years prior: pay off $40,000 worth of debt, go out and socialize more, become one of the top consultants in my company of 150 representatives. Check, check and check. Now what? Buy a house of course!
So I worked steadfastly towards the three bedrooms and the white picket fence with two and a half bathrooms–or more like the single apartment with my own parking spot that some random asshole keeps taking on Saturday nights.
There is something very peculiar to me about being self aware throughout my day. I start to notice things that seem otherwise encrypted and deceptively hidden, things that were right in front of me all along. I noticed that my motivation started to dwindle little by little each day and wondered why that was. To me, this was the overwhelmingly heavy presence that crescendoed into one recurring thought: a house wasn’t what I really wanted.
I wanted to exuberantly throw coloured dye at each other in India’s spring Holi Festival. I wanted to experience what it was like to pay without currency at Burning Man in Nevada, to throw over ripened tomatoes in one of the world’s largest food fights in La Tomatina in Spain, to listen to the Jazz greats in New Orleans while pleasuring my taste buds with delicious creole fare.
I wanted to watch the pink petals fall and decorate the parks in Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival, to explore the deep blue through scuba diving and visiting the marine life in their own habitat rather than going to an aquarium, to be uplifted through Trance and EDM at Tomorrowland in Belgium.
I wanted to witness the flow of electrically charged atmosphere through the Aurora Borealis in Iceland, or to go skydiving in New Zealand and–if I died from it–at least I saw and felt something ineffably beautiful in my last moments.
But there is a cost to pursuing one’s happiness
For those familiar with economics there is a concept called Opportunity Cost. In layman’s terms it means that in order to do one thing, you have to not be doing something else. In order to sit at home and study on the weekends for your SATs, you are not going out to the bar or club and meeting new people. In order to train for the Olympics, you are not eating junk food or staying up too late partying. For me, in order to pursue travelling, I am not buying a house and settling down with a wife and kids at the age with which it is expected. These are things I want to do, but they will be delayed for a greater purpose.
Does it bother me a little bit? I’m 30 years old and don’t have the house or the family that society has told me I should by now. Yea, it bother’s me a bit, but am I going to buckle under the pressure and choose what society wants of me and forgo the adventure of a lifetime? Hell no.
I want kids, I want a wife and a nice house and I will get these things later on down the road. Right now though I have to be a bit selfish. I have to focus on myself and what is going to bring my life the most enjoyment, the most growth and the most experience. Travel is that thing.
Who knows? Maybe I will meet the one while exchanging trains in Italy or while walking on the clouds in Bolivia.