In just 6 short weeks, I’m going to cross an item from my Bucket List. I’m going to Mykonos, Greece, for 10 glorious days of adventure, exploring, and escaping my stress-ridden daily reality.
I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout my life, visiting friends and family, driving across the country to relocate; and I was very fortunate to spend a semester in Ireland when I was in high school. Greece will be my first vacation as an adult that’s just for “me,” with no agenda, no obligations, and absolutely no regard for my current situation.
I have every reason in the world not to go. To be perfectly candid, I’m broke. I’m drowning in student loan debt, and my credit card is MANY years from being paid off. The best part? Because I’m single, have no children, and make a so-called decent salary in my field, I qualify for no assistance whatsoever. No tax breaks, no affordable healthcare, no food stamps, nothing. Assistance programs see my salary earnings, and I’m an automatic denial – even though my paychecks are basically gone as soon as they hit my bank account.
Believe me, if I could file for bankruptcy and erase my debt, I’d do so without hesitation. As it stands, bankruptcy does not erase student loan or credit card debt… That would just make it too easy for people like myself, I suppose.
I know I’m not alone here. Staggering numbers of individuals from my generation are experiencing similar issues. We graduated from college into the worst job market in decades, most of us with substantial debt. A generous parting gift for having the audacity to desire an education, while not having parents in a position to help with tuition costs.
The icing on this rancid, parasitic cake? Thanks to interest rates, our debt actually increases over time – even when making monthly, minimum payments. I owe close to $20,000.00 more today than when I graduated in 2008. God bless the American Dream.
Anyway. I digress. Greece. GREECE!!!
Back in December, I saw on Facebook that my friend Chassity had booked a solo trip to Mykonos. I congratulated her, as I knew this was something she’d been wanting to do for years. Shortly thereafter, she sent me a message, telling me that I should consider joining her.
Of course, my initial response was, “No WAY am I in a position to do that.” I was sitting on the floor of my studio apartment, having just recently moved in after a solid year of relocating, job searching, and buying groceries with my credit card. I had landed on my feet in Portland, but barely; and the pragmatist in me knew that booking an exotic, island vacation was not the most financially strategic move.
However, the other part of me – the part of me that has been consumed with wanderlust since I was a little girl – began pondering… I realized that I was 32 years old, and I had yet to visit any of the places on my Bucket List. And as fate would have it, Greece has been one of those coveted destinations for years. I realized that if I wait until my debt is paid off and I have “enough” money in the bank, I will most likely die with a heap of regrets. Hell, if only wealthy people traveled, most of us would never get to see the world.
After an obsessive amount of marinating on every possible layer of the subject, I made the decision to give myself the gift of Greece. Can I really afford to go? Not at all. Will taking this trip make my current situation more difficult? Nope, I am WAY past that point. So the ultimate question is this: Which will I regret more – going, or not going? Something tells me I don’t need to state the obvious on that one.
Life is both challenging and fleeting. There will always be struggle, financial or otherwise. Through it all, I practice gratitude daily, and I celebrate the many beautiful gifts this life has given me.
At the same time, I’m not going to feel guilty for wanting more. Those who know me, know that I don’t care about living in a huge house or driving a fancy car. I don’t dream about being a millionaire – I dream about being debt free. I dream about my Godfather designing and building me a little house by the water somewhere, where I can curl up by the fire and write my happily-ever-afters. I dream about being able to travel and see every hidden corner of the world.
I may not be able to have all of this, and in the end – that’s okay. Life can still be grand. I may not be able to visit every place in the world I find appealing, but I will somehow find a way to reach my deal-breakers. I will sleep in a water bungalow in Bora Bora. I will go on an African Safari. I will go to Italy. I will go to Port Alexander, Alaska. I will return to Ireland. And in 6 weeks, I’m going to Greece.
Viva la vida, friends. Before it’s too late.