Colleen and the Call to Quest

And so my adventure begins. But first, allow me to catch you up to speed. 

On March 13, 1990, a child was born. Kidding, we aren't going back that far, but if you ever want to buy me a birthday present you'll know when to do so. Anyway, I have this theory. The theory is as follows: Some people are born with a travel bug and some are not. I understand this is not a mind-blowing concept by any means, but let me explain. The nature of this travel bug begins with a childlike curiosity, builds with a desire for knowledge, and thrives on a passion for the unknown. My extremely made up statistic says that 9 out of 10 people in this world have at least a molecule of the travel bug in them. However, what separates the people I call "travel buggers" from the merely curious souls is the willpower and gumption to make their explorations of the world a reality. The desire to see and feel more is an all-consuming and ferociously relentless entity. 

My whole life I have wanted more than anything to be a travel bugger. I have the bug inside me. I know because I can feel it. Churning in my belly when I see pictures and videos of foreign places. Growling when I have the same routine for more than three days in a row. Before I explain why I cannot claim to be a travel bugger (not yet, at least), I would like to note that I have a super phenomenal family. My father has worked extremely hard to provide for my mother, brother, and myself. He has his own business with only one employee. This dynamic has made it difficult to allow time off for extravagant family vacations. This isn't easy to understand as a child, especially while attending a private school and watching classmates frolic off to Aspen for Christmas break or Europe for the summer. Even though we didn't have the opportunity to participate in those family adventures, I can say that my dad was home for dinner every single night. He never missed a sporting event or a chance to say "I love you, I'm so proud of you." That alone is more valuable to me as an adult than any of those trips could ever amount to. But that's the thing. I am an adult now, so it's time to make these adventures and travels happen for myself. Come hell or high water.

I have this problem and it completely stems from who my parents are as human beings. If something is not practical, it is really hard for me to wrap my mind around the concept. Running off to Europe sounds fantastic to the travel bug inside of me, but is it a practical thing to do? Directly, no. It is not practical at all. Let's face it. Quitting a stable, full-time job is scary. I take that back. It's terrifying. However, the indirect effects of independent exploration as a young adult could be positively life altering. My best friend and I are constantly texting each other links to titles such as "23 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad At Least Once" and "Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel in Your 20s". I have never understood how these young people find the money to stop their lives in this career climbing environment and travel. Being a girl without a trust fund or the desire to go into immense debt, how can I fulfill my travel fantasies and be practical? Here's how.

As I previously mentioned, my parents rock. That doesn't mean it has been easy living with them for over two years after four and a half years of collegiate independence. By making the decision to move home and having supportive parents that did not require me to pay rent while simultaneously working full-time, I have been able to save enough for the type of adventure I am craving. I understand that moving home is not an option for everyone, and if you do not have an incredibly healthy relationship with your parents going into it, I would not suggest taking that route. Even though I consider my parents my greatest allies, I questioned my sanity most days and shed many tears of frustration. But here I am. I finally have the money in my account that will fly me to Rome for three months and au pair (nanny) for a beautiful family. I plan to leave at the end of May and return at the end of August. I cannot wait to dip my toe in the travel bugger lifestyle and share my stories and photos. 

I recently approached my cousin for advice. She is the world traveller of the family, so I knew she would be encouraging. I will leave you with her eloquent words of wisdom that I ripped off our private Facebook message because I could not have said it better myself:

The desire, the call to quest, has to be very strong to keep you sane and alive during the harder parts of traveling/exploring/leaving your comfort zone. And you cannot approach it from only a romanticized dream-like state. You’ll need your wits about you, and you need to go in with open eyes. Your message conveys all of that to me, so my answer is that you must heed the call to quest. If you don’t, you WILL spend the rest of your life drowning in the question “What if...?” I don’t want that for you. But be warned from the outset: Living in another country will change you forever. There are times of strain, confusion, loss and of feeling very disconnected from everyone, especially those you left behind. And the disconnect doesn’t really ever go away. You will never be the same person again. Those who don’t travel will never quite understand you again, because it’s impossible to convey the beauty, wonder and emotions you’ve experienced. And those you meet out in the wild world will never understand that kernal of you-ness that those back home know so well. While that might sound unappealing, the caveat is this: you will become completely and entirely your own. You will belong to yourself entirely. Your power will be forged by the bravery of taking that first step away and hardened by each step after it, by each experience, joy, or hardship you manage on your own, by each time you have to just take a breath and trust yourself. Home will become all the more precious to you, because it will be your connection to your core, fundamental self, a touchstone to set you back to rights if you wander too long or feel too far away from yourself. But the comfort of the home you know stops being a daily necessity. One of the greatest spiritual lessons one can learn is that the sacred place, where God resides, isn’t in a temple or a church or even just in Nature. You carry your sacred place within. Traveling will solidify that knowing in you, and, while home can be a touchstone or reminder, you will become your own home and your own sacred place. The call to quest, to search out your own way, is an ancient one that’s fundamental to human nature. Not everyone feels it to the extent that you and I do, but it is, nonetheless, fully legitimate and well documented. And it must be answered. The consequence for denying it is too great.
— Emily Nero Madhu



  Thankful for my crew.

Thankful for my crew.