What My Trip to Ireland Taught Me About Status Anxiety

“Better pass boldy into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” – James Joyce

Traveling is one of my passions; I have studied in Italy and have visited over 15 countries. My short-term life goal is to travel as much as possible, hoping to reach 30 countries by the time I turn thirty. However, my goal is not simply to check off as many places as possible but to learn as much as possible from the places I visit, and to appreciate each uniquely. After each trip to a new city/counIMG_4208try, I am going to write down my major takeaways.

I recently took a ten-day road trip through Ireland visiting Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney, Dingle, Shannon and Galway. It was an amazing trip, and I was blown away by the landscapes, the food, the beer, and most of all, the people. I highly recommend it as a travel destination. But, starting now, the point of this blog is not to talk about hotels, attractions and restaurants. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs and websites dedicated to that. For this trip to Ireland, I am going to talk about one major takeaway: the apparent lack of desire from the Irish to rush immediately into a career oriented job following, or even before, attending a university.

This point was driven home when I talked to the owner of the B&B I stayed at in Dingle. He was born in Dingle but moved to America when he was a teenager. He lived in NYC while working various jobs including that of a line cook in an upscale steakhouse. At the age of 40 he moved back to Dingle to open a small B&B deep in the countryside. He seemed incredibly happy, loved his time in America, and now loves his time in Ireland. He traveled all throughout the US and South America, never fully embracing a single career. A life such as his is foreign to many Americans, but in my opinion, it is a very admirable one.

Americans are expected to find a job immediately following college. Not just any job but a job that will help develop their future careers. This is the result of the American desire for social status, and the number one indicator of status in America is your IMG_4228career. I’m not saying that status isn’t important in Ireland, but it does seem that to the Irish, status is not entirely defined by your career. Money is a major motivator for Americans trying to fast track their careers, but I think status is an even bigger one. These ideas of taking time off to travel, pursue a hobby, and discover passions, are mostly foreign to Americans. These activities are reserved for retirement.

Very few people know what they want to do for the rest of their lives at age 22. Few people want to do the same thing their entire lives. The idea that you have to decide at such a young age is nonsensical. Don’t worry about career status. Unless you absolutely have a passion for a career don’t do something that makes you miserable. Read, write, travel, create, compose, listen, converse; do the things that make you happy. Maybe you’ll discover something you love that will lead to money, instead of making money the end goal. You will find people along the way who share your values, thus making the opinions of others irrelevant. Life is a journey, not a destination, and no one has all the answers. Careers don’t provide happiness, passion, experience, or memories. Relationships do. Do not define yourself based on someone else’s opinion of your career.