By Claire W. Staley
I adore island countries. They remind me of something that many people forget: taking it slow is okay. As a college student, I’m surrounded by many driven, career-oriented peers who can have a tendency to be judgmental. I am also familiar with people who elected not to go to college, and instead plant themselves somewhere and get a minimum wage job while they enjoy the nearest ski resort or coral reef. And it astounded me that these ski bums and island creatures really bother some of my friends. “What are they doing with their life?” they ask. “They’re going nowhere. Why didn’t they go to college and study something?”
Perhaps it comes from insecurities almost everyone has about their futures. When someone works so hard at school and they still face an uncertain future, maybe it feels unfair that someone who didn’t “work as hard” could be completely fine.
Others are jealous and wish they had a lifestyle like that. I know I do. I could easily see myself working at a dive shop in the Caribbean for minimum wage. But this stigma our culture has about education makes me stay in college. (Ok, maybe I really like learning through books and classes as well).
Does every person have a deep-seated need for adventure? Surely the ski-bums are living an adventurous life on the border, rebelling against society norms. Sitting in chemistry class three days a week doesn’t always get the blood rushing. The SCUBA diver in Costa Rica is probably marching through a jungle and discovering great things. Having an adventure.
Some talk about those people and say this: “It’s fine, I mean do whatever you want, but what are you DOING with your life?” And then they huff, pout, and sigh about people who have no drive or sense of future. That’s a lot of energy to put into someone else’s life, especially someone you might not even know.
In truth, at least to me, these people are neither here to be admired nor disliked. They do not want nor need the approval or opinion of those they do not know. They simply are living the best way they know how, and perhaps they have the right idea when it comes to life paths. Who knows? Instead of worrying so much about the future, perhaps we shouldn’t worry about anything at all for a bit. And if that means chilling out for a bit in Africa, it’s really none of my business.
“You do you, and don’t forget to go slow,” as they say on Caye Caulker, Belize.