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brb, gonna live in a van for the rest of my life.

October 3, 2015

Being in Australia is changing my mind about stuff – not that my mind is something that ever solidly lands on things – but the way people live here is making me rethink my next few months, or years, or decades maybe.

As a college student, I’ve discovered that it's surprisingly hard to separate myself from the mindset that says ladder-climbing and financial stability are important things for graduates to get. I’ve always consciously felt immune to this thinking for several reasons.

First, I was brought into the world and raised up by parents who taught me that money isn’t important and that our family is rich in better ways (in love, in laughter, etc.). “Do whatever makes you happy,” they tell me. And, “We’re so proud of you,” (too often than I deserve) and, “Write a novel!” I am overwhelmingly grateful to have them.

Second, I’ve always thought of myself as a non-judgmental free spirit who could happily live in a van and never wear shoes and shampoo my split ends minimally. Recognition in my field is something I didn’t think I needed.

This semester is my last one, so I’ve started looking for jobs here. It’s just been casual browsing so far, because it’s best to apply for journalism gigs six to eight weeks before you’re available to start, and I won’t be free until January. I’d scroll through openings on www.journalismjobs.com and see something interesting, something that might make me happy, and then think, “But no, that won’t be a good move if I want to meet people and move up and be really successful.”

But I’ve met so many people here who work as tour guides or in cafés to make enough money to fund their adventures and live in beautiful places and they all seem happy. I don’t think that planning a life around career goals is a silly thing to do. I respect that path so much. People who do that, as long as that’s what they truly want to do, impress me endlessly.

But nomads impress me as well groups of kids who pitch their tents underneath trees by the beach, or surfers who follow big waves, or old barefoot guys who operate hostels and don’t mind when its residents play loud drinking games with cheap wine in the lobby.

I’ve already changed my return flight so that I can stay in this hemisphere a little longer, and I’ve started researching creative writing MFA programs for when I get home, and maybe I’ll hop back on www.journalismjobs.com and be a good, old fashioned reporter for a while. Moral of the story: Straya has opened me up and freed my mind a little when I thought I had already achieved that.

Shouts out to a few loves of my life, Geenah Krisht, Kelsey Cordutsky and Hayley Waring, for reminding me that the most important thing is to keep making stuff – songs, poems, essays, films, drawings – and maybe if we do that, other things will fall into place and fill the cracks around our creations.

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