Photo from flickr user tom.arthur. Please check out his other photos!

I’m incredibly honored today to be putting up this guest post. This post is from Brett, known to the world as Amtrekker. Brett spent nearly 16 months traveling around the country, checking tasks off of his life’s list. His experiences should resonate with any college student that’s ever yearned for something more than a degree. Enjoy! ~Kelly

Hey Team,

I know it’s kind of en vogue to graduate from college and make a beeline for Europe to live out your American Werewolf in London inspired fantasies of backpacking through foreign hamlets (and wolf attacks?) but thanks to some personal experience I may be able to give you a few lycanthrope free ideas to mull over before you stock up on flea dip.

Don’t get me wrong, the draw is incredible and the opportunity to see new sights and experience new cultures is one that should never be passed up. However, after spending the last year and a half wandering
around America as a tech savvy vagrant I’ve learned that there are a couple fundamental problems with this particular trajectory.

The bottom line is that it’s all about living life, right? Sadly, a Euro-romp through filthy hostels immediately following four years of filthy apartment living just isn’t enough of a shock to the system to
prepare yourself for a lifetime of living life. You’re still going to latch onto that tech support gig your dad’s golf buddy offers up to you when you come back broke and desperate for a decent cheeseburger and if you’re the “average American” it’s going to be another four years before you realize you hate your job and make a lateral move to a different call center.

“Living” shouldn’t be something you “get out of your system” during a month long backpacking trip after school. I took a couple short trips to Europe in college but after graduating I jumped head first into the
corporate world of make believe, working as a designer for Disney. After three years of making the Happiest Place on Earth just a little bit happier, I reached a point where I was either going to spend the rest of my life making things look “cute” or I was going to give it all up and do the things I always talked about doing.

Thankfully, Disney did give me a unique perspective. Have you ever watched a little kid’s eyes light up as they walk into a theme park for the first time? I always laughed, thinking, “Kids are so easy to please. Just throw a 5 foot tall dude in a mouse costume at them and it’s all over.” It wasn’t until around the time that I found myself sleeping on a park bench after spending an entire day hanging out with an Amish family playing lawn games and milking their cows that I put two and two together.

Kids’ lives are filled with wonder (and it’s not because they don’t have the brain capacity to figure out that Mickey is mostly just some fiberglass slung over a guy that probably chain smokes his way through a fifteen minute break every half hour). Wonder comes from experiencing something for the first time. And you can only do that if you understand the importance of continually expanding your comfort zone.

Getting comfortable after college is the worst thing that can happen to a person looking to lead a life fully lived; and continually challenging yourself is no easy task. Don’t rely on a once in a lifetime trip to take the place of actually living.