So many people assume that others travel to ‘escape reality’, and recently I have been questioning this concept.
Exactly what is reality? The expectation that once you leave school, you will (if you’re lucky), find a job you like or at least pays the bills, buy a house, settle down and have a few kids? Maybe a gap year if you’re lucky.
Have I left reality behind because I have chosen not to take this path that is defined by my culture?
What is the opposite of reality? Imagination? Has stepping out of my cultural norm thrown me into a world that isn’t real – an imaginary world? Or is it not reality because of the notion that it cannot last forever, that it must come to an end sooner or later and then I will have to rejoin ‘reality’ a few years behind everyone else – and therefore be deliberately disadvantaging myself? In what time frame does the backpacker life become real? The moment you miss your plane home? The decision to invest your time and money into a business? When you find yourself building a nest for yourself on a tropical island and forgetting what chocolate tastes like?
Let’s look at the situation in the UK right now. University fees through the roof, surplus graduates working minimum wage jobs, the first rung on the housing ladder incurs crippling lifetime debt and a year on year increase in those living below or on the poverty line. People blaming immigration for their problems instead of embracing the cultural exchange that comes with it. Am I a coward for not weathering the storm of my birthplace or ingenious for chasing my dreams and creating the life for myself that I want to lead?
There is the cultural expectation to fulfil our role in society, pay our taxes to keep the machine oiled and moving so that future generations have the greater chance to make the decision to pay their taxes and oil the machine. To contribute towards society. But what if that society is a claustrophobic mess? Doesn’t it make sense to broaden your horizons and see what the world is really about?
So are you still really thinking that I have escaped reality? Or are you just unhappy with the reality that, due to fear or circumstance, you find yourself trapped in? You have your reality and I have mine. Reality is the life you are living right now, and if it’s not for you then it’s only you who can change the environment you live in. The world is a big place, filled with many simultaneous realities, and in just some of them you will find yourself at an advantage. Why not challenge yourself with something new, immerse yourself in the Swahili language and culture or live in the jungle. Whatever your reality is, embrace it when you find it!
By Tat Jones