Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. I’m 38 years old. I don’t have a wife and children. I don’t own a house or a car. I don’t even have much of a job (at least in terms of a career).
To be honest, I’m not even sure that I want those things. They simply pass through my mind every now and again.
But I have to admit that they seem to be coming more and more the older that I get.
Before I continue, let me explain what I’ve been up to first.
Right now, I’m living in China. I’m teaching English to children. Before that I had lived in Korea and was doing the same thing.
I never set out to be a teacher. I went to Korea on a whim. A friend of mine had told me that he had gone there for a year to teach and I thought I’d give it a try. Up until that point, I hadn’t even known that such a thing was possible.
Eight years later, I’m doing the same thing.
I find teaching challenging and the results rewarding. It’s great to have a student who couldn’t speak a word of English come up to me after a while and try to communicate. I love seeing the expression on her face when she realizes that she’s made herself understood.
Then, in between contracts, I’ve been able to travel all over the world. I’ve seen a lot of South East Asia, most of Europe, some of South America and, of course, the countries that I’ve lived in.
I’ve trekked through beautiful mountains and gorges. I’ve gone swimming in exotic lakes and rivers. I’ve ridden horseback and elephant-back.
I was also able to take off a year to work on a book that I’ve started to release online.
Hmm…after writing it down, my life doesn’t seem all that bad. Actually, it seems pretty good. And, for the most part, it is. I’ve done a lot and seen a lot.
But there’s still that something that plays on my mind, tells me that I’m doing something wrong, not following the path I should.
I suppose that there is some sort of internal clock at work – some paternal instinct that wants to settle down and continue the bloodline.
It could also simply be that I’m getting to the point where I want to grow with someone – to get support and give it in kind.
A big part of me, however, thinks that most of it has to do with the way I’ve been raised.
I should point out here that my family has been nothing but supportive toward the lifestyle I’ve chosen. They constantly tell me how proud they are of me and comment on how much courage it must take to do the things I do, to live the life I live. And I am extremely grateful for that. It has made my choices a lot easier to bear.
What I mean by “the way I’ve been raised” has to do with the ideas that I was taught at school and picked up from the media. It has to do with the sermons I listened to as a child (I was raised Catholic until my parents let me decide for myself) and the books I read. More than anything, though, it has to do with what I saw as a normal life through my own upbringing and that of my friends – which usually involved father, mother, siblings.
There are obviously a lot of changes being made to the conception of a “normal” life. Parents are getting divorced and remarried, same-sex partners are having children. There are several single parents out there as well.
But, at the end of the day, they all seem to follow the same general rules: get a career, get married, have children.
And it’s this which makes it difficult to accept the choices I’ve made.
Not impossible, I should point out. Just difficult.
I guess what it comes down to is that I simply need to keep reminding myself that, while I might not be doing what’s “right”, I’m doing what’s right for me.
And, though there may be great challenges, there are also great rewards.
The fact that I’m writing this in a coffee shop in China can attest to that.
I just have to keep positive…whichever path I choose.