should we need to choose between liberty & stability?

January 6, 2014

The process of institutional education is drawing to a close for many of us. My finals are in May and so if deduct holidays, I technically have 3 months left of university. Scary stuff. The thing is, as far as post-graduation plans go, I had found myself in a bit of a rut.

By Tash Vals, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Let’s rewind a little.

Having started off in an airline company back in Africa that ultimately went bust; my parents came over to England on a foundation of hope alone. My brothers and I were raised on the premise that education was everything and success was the end game, so we were urged to do our very best in school and standards were high.

The thing is, our parents weren’t the only ones raising – our environment was too.

Newham in East London isn’t exactly our version of the Hamptons and with crime rate at one of the nation’s highest; my brother’s succumbed to the negative influences around them.

With my eldest brother not bothering to go further than secondary school (junior year), and my second brother being thrown out of college not once but twice, the responsibility was on my shoulders to get that college degree and then find good career on the back of it.

For a while that was what I genuinely wanted to do as well. But obviously in college you make a great deal of new friends and most of mine were white middle-class trust-fund kids with plans of travelling the world before even beginning to think about careers.

I found this very cute more than anything, a little unrealistic and kind of a waste of time, I mean, why do you need to pay half a grand and go halfway across the world to ‘find yourself’?

Who was gonna fund me climbing up mountains and trekking rainforests for a year? Not my parents, that’s for sure! No, I had to get a job and that was that. Travelling would have to wait until the assigned holidays my future boss would give me.

Recently however, I’ve begun to realize that my friends may actually be onto something.

There comes a point in your final year where you do one (or both) of two things:

1) You start panicking about what the hell you’re gonna do once you’re shoved out into the big bad world.

2) You start to develop Wanderlust.

In a bid to do our parents proud and build a stable future for ourselves, a lot of us surrender our youth in return for the sensible option.

I’m 20 years old. The retirement age in the UK is 65. I have just under half a century to work a 9-5 day in and day out. I saw it written somewhere (probably Tumblr!) that our twenties should be the most selfish and experimental years of our lives. The years where we date as many different types of people as possible and travel everywhere before you have to ground yourself for your spouse/kids/permanent career.

Imagine settling into a job you like and have the potential to move upwards in, but then having that niggling feeling at the back of your head that maybe you should have waited. Toyed with life a little bit.

Heck I don’t even know for sure what I want to do with my life.

Some days I want to do film-making, other times I want to do the whole writing thing and then other times I randomly want to open up a café in Venice or something.

The pressures to have your life mapped out from the word go is so intense that we cut our own options down and box ourselves in. I don’t want a job, I want several!

As soon as I feel the itch of restlessness I want to have my next endeavour mapped out and ready to go.

It’s normal to worry about setting everything aside for what seems like ‘aimless wandering’ but it really needn’t be. A wise man once told me that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I don’t want to fly to Nepal and spend six months there fishing and dancing around camp-fires; I want to go out there and actually be useful.

There are a billion schemes out there that are willing to fund and house your travels abroad in exchange for voluntary work. Not only does this mean you get to see the world on someone else’s wallet, but it also makes your resume look sparkling for when you do decide to come back and settle into your career.

My point is that there are options out there if you are willing to look for them. Some people really do just want to settle into a nice career, maybe work their way up in the company – or enter a family business even.

But if like me, you’ve been brought up on the well-meaning wishes of a hard-working family but want to see what else is on offer, start searching for your life.

What you want is out there, but it’s time to start putting steps in motion to find the most effective ways to take it.

Happy new year and good luck!

* Follow Tash on Twitter @ohlookitsTash