For years now, since Freshman year of college, I have been traveling. I haven’t spent a full year anywhere except for right now, where I’m in Cameroon, West Africa. My time in university was broken up between a summer in France, a semester in London, and another summer back in London. I thrive on the change and the unknown that each adventure brings. Today, in reading a blog post titling Change Love And Hate, I realized I am classified as a “change lover” – my mood oscillates between deep frustration and extreme happiness; I know little bit of many things; I have many weak ties and my spontaneity leads me to less informed decisions.
Many people of my generation, “the Gen Y”, are often globetrotters who thrive on exciting challenges of situating oneself outside of their comfort zone. Despite how globalization and technology is shrinking the world, it is still vast and presents endless opportunities. To me, the mere idea of “settling down” means forgo experiencing lives in other parts of the world. I once set a goal to live on all continents minus Antarctica (I was born in the tropics, not a fan of the extreme cold! ;)). This goal would have been lofty for many people of previous generations, but for us, it’s wildly attainable. I, myself, has already lived on 4.
I like the idea of experiencing a culture from a local perspective. That includes learning the language, mingling with locals, etc. Taking 2-3 week vacation somewhere would absolutely not allow me to experiencing new lives in my preferred method. That’s why “settling down” is so scary to me.
Fortunately, in today’s world, if I put my mind to it, I can absolutely carve a career out of living a few years in different countries around the world. I have done enough research to know it is very possible. However, my concern lies not within the professional aspect of a globetrotter, but in the personal.
The social aspect of being a globetrotting Gen Y is not as easy as it appears. Yes, traveling around the world puts me in contact with a variety of wildly fascinating people. Yet with each move comes the need to recreate a social circle from scratch. Since I thrive on change, that’s not much of a problem, albeit not always easy, especially with culture and language barriers.
My one and only concern as a globetrotter is whether I’ll ever be able to have a steady romantic relationship and eventually create a family. This is one issue I rarely see discussed in international career discussions. Does fulfilling my desire to experience the vast world mean I will have to forgo on lasting relationship and family? Are those reserved only for those who are willing to “settle down”? The difficulty is quite obvious. I am always on the move, and I meet people who, while share many of the same interests as a fellow traveler, are also on the move. Creating and sustaining a meaningful relationship with another person when both people are roaming around the globe is not so easy. With all the articles out there on managing an international career, are there ones that tell you how to manage a globetrotting career and also a relationship? Can I have my cake and eat it, too?