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  • Writer's pictureJordan Chmiel



Explore. Dream. Discover.

Graduation is the amalgamation of achievement, excitement, and the inevitable coming of change. It is one of those rare opportunities where all the focus and attention is on you and celebrating all your arduous efforts over the years from those midterm papers to the countless final exams. However, there is this mistaken belief that, as if overnight, you have to magically transform into being an "adult" who trades their passions and adventurous spirit for a coffee mug, briefcase, and a fake smile. This could not be further from the truth.

Let me share my own story. During my graduation weekend at the University of Illinois, my family drove down and shared in the joy of watching me walk across the stage to get my degree. By 9am on Monday morning, I was at my new job in an unfamiliar office with my neatly pressed suit and tie ready to adult. The first couple months were exciting as I took on the challenge of working in the real world, making new friends with my co-workers, and of course receiving that coveted paycheck! However, the newness soon wore off, and the honeymoon period ended within 3 months. My daily routine soon turned stale as the weeks wore on and blended together. My life up until that point had been filled with color-a fresh supply of adventure, travel, and a passion for living that always left me looking forward to the coming days. Now, it was filled with a dull black-and-white as I struggled to go through the motions each day and living for Friday. Even my passion of traveling was put on hold as I was granted 1 week of vacation only after 1 year of completed work. I was left perplexed-here I had done everything society asked me to do to be happy and “adult”: a steady job, weekly income, a girlfriend, and a puppy! Yet I was left feeling empty, demoralized, and ultimately reaching one of the lowest points of my life.

"Is this what I worked hard all my life for? Is this what life is going to be like for the next 40 years?"

One day at work, after almost a year on the job, I stumbled across a YouTube video of a traveler who went to all corners of the world recording himself dancing with locals (“Where the Hell is Matt”). My skin got goosebumps. Here, this smiling guy in cargo shorts was living out my dream of traveling the world-probably eating new foods, meeting tons of interesting people, and seeing incredible new sights daily. All the while, I was locked away in the corner office looking out at the birds outside wondering if I could magically fly out my window. I decided that I was done being miserable. There was no one that was responsible for my happiness and the course of my life other than myself - no one else was going to do it for me. I realized the imaginary shackles I had attached to myself were all self-inflicted by fears of doing something different and not being a proper "adult".

I made my decision that I was going to follow my heart and explore the world. I would figure out one way or another to get it done even if it meant sleeping outside. I picked the most foreign place that I knew the least about and interested me-Asia. As I shared the news with friends and the date of my departure began approaching, self-doubt reared its ugly head and was further fueled by friends and colleagues who told me I was making a big mistake especially career wise. “Why don’t you just work, retire, and then you can have money and travel then?”

At the time, I had seriously considered this logic. However, looking back at it now, it scares me that I almost fell for this trap. Who wants to go backpacking throughout Australia or go to beach parties in Thailand at the age of 65?

Long story short, that decision to listen to my heart's yearning for adventure ended up working out just alright. I was able to save up more money than I would have staying at home. I made friends and attended weddings from all over the world. I saw places that took my breath away from the underwater world at the Great Barrier Reef to the magnificence of the Sahara Dessert in Morocco. I experienced such kindness and generosity from strangers towards a foreigner that changed my entire outlook on humanity, All these memories will be ones I will cherish for the rest of my life and would not have been possible had I not taken risks and just walked through the motions of "adulting".

Hiking at the Grand Black Mountain in China

Over the next couple of weeks or months, you will start hearing how you need to start “adulting”. You will feel the pressure to have to transform into a new person and follow the safe path. While it is time to start a new chapter of life and start contributing to humanity by being a productive member of society, adulting does not mean having to give up your dreams and passions. It does not mean you have to be unhappy as the weeks turn to months. It does not mean that you have to rush to get that car, house or engagement ring just because it seems to be the adult thing to do. No, No, No. Adulting means you are now old and responsible enough to be the captain of your own ship and destiny. It means you know how have the ultimate freedom to make your own responsible decisions. It means that while you may have commitments to family, children, or work, it also does not mean you abandon the responsibility to yourself of living out your dreams and following your passions.

"You will never have as much as freedom and opportunity to take chances and risks as you do now."

Whether it’s traveling the world, starting your own business, or whatever it is that excites you, your opportunities to take these chances are only going to dwindle the older you get. Mortgage payments, children, car loans, or even unexpected circumstances such as ailing parents will creep creep up on you.

There is no better time than now to take the risks that will be too risky to take in the future.

Adult the Right Way.

You’ll regret it if you don’t.

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