Time and time again, studies show that we twenty-somethings are the most unhappy stage of our lives. At least twice a day I declare that I am having a quarter-life crisis because I am trapped in this weird, pretend adulthood. Some days I wake up and say, "Wow, look at you, Liz, you young business professional." Then other days I wake up at one in the afternoon, never brush my hair, eat a twenty inch pizza by myself, and watch HGTV until some ungodly hour of the night. We twenty-somethings are unhappy because we are afraid and full of questions. How many times a day do you think about what happens when you graduate and have to enter the real world? Where you will go, if you will get a job, will you be happy are all ridiculously tough questions we ask ourselves excessively throughout our day.
For me, I think the answer to all of those questions was to stop asking them and buy a plane ticket. When I heard about the Rome study abroad program for the interior design students, I convinced myself that I was adventurous and signed up as soon as I could. The more I thought about it though, my twenty-year-old thoughts kicked in and I became apprehensive about the situation. I was so stuck in my love of familiarity, and all of the same questions flooded my thoughts for months while planning the trip. It would just be so much easier to stay here and go on with my same routine. However, In a weird turn of events, I started to think about who I was before I morphed myself into what was easy to be. I got angry with myself and these new habits and decided to ask myself some different questions. When is the last time I did something for the first time? When did I decide I was going to live the same year over and over and call it a life? To quote Maya Angelou, "No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dream."
Back to the title- "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there," was always my favorite Lewis Carroll quote and I think I finally realized it was time to start living that. I don't know where I'm going so I might as well stop relentlessly trying to figure it out. It was time to stop asking for directions and take the scenic route. We had travelled often when I was younger, and I missed that childlike feeling of the excitement of a new place. I want to study abroad because I can't think of anything more wonderful than somewhere where I am ignorant to almost everything. Somewhere where you can't read signs or reliably cross a street and you only have the most basic sense of how things work. I want my life to be full of that series of interesting guesses again. This trip is about finding all of the things I never knew I was looking for and reminding myself what a tiny spot I occupy in this big, beautiful world. There is something so powerful about saying, "to heck with it," and just wandering, living creatively, tasting, enjoying, all while stopping here and there. I am traveling purposefully towards a vague destination in love with every minute of my live.
So the next time someone brings up grad school or marriage at the Thanksgiving table, I will gladly send my grandma into cardiac arrest my admitting that I have no idea and I don't care to have one any day soon. And that brings me to now, two days from departure trying to throw everything together last minute as all good twenty-somethings would do. I am full of fear and excitement for this journey, but I'm ready to combat that fear with an open mind, a European airline regulation sized carry-on, and some clothes that don't wrinkle.
Only packing the essentials
I'm Liz Bixenman, an interior design student living in Rome for the semester. When I'm not doing schoolwork, you can find me wearing a cat shirt, reading a book, and most likely eating more carbs than I'm proud of.