I should explain a little bit about what I’m doing. I, along with my friend Billy, will be traveling around the world for a year using a program called Workaway. I call it a program, but it’s really more of a facilitator. Workaway is a website where both hosts and volunteers create a profile and offer either accommodation or work. Hosts create a profile that details what kind of volunteer work they require, accommodation information, volunteer reviews, and pictures of whatever project needs work. The volunteer’s profile is comparatively simpler. A volunteer gives a short bio, a loose itinerary of where he or she is planning on traveling, and a few photos. Workaway is not free, however. In order to contact hosts and create a profile, one must pay a yearly subscription fee of about thirty bucks—not bad, all things considered.
I discovered Workaway back in September of 2016. That was the fall semester of my senior year of college, and I still wasn’t sure what I planned on doing once I graduated in May. I remember spending a long time surfing through hosts on the website, thinking this might be an interesting thing to do for a month or so post-graduation; that is, if I still hadn’t figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my lucrative English degree. So I put Workaway on the backburner, figuring it was always going to be there regardless of what I decided to pursue.
Initially, I made a hasty decision to apply for grad schools. I have always been a diligent student, and the thought of going further in depth into my field of study seemed exciting. I began looking at schools in the UK because the majority of graduate programs there are only a year-long and therefore a bit cheaper. As I kept chugging along through the semester, though, my enthusiasm for graduate studies began to wane. Applying for graduate school is no small amount of labor, and coupled with my work load, the notion of successfully applying for graduate school before the deadlines seemed unlikely if not impossible. Perhaps if I were still so enthusiastic about grad school I could have gotten it done, but every time I set about revising my sample essay or researching financial aid I began to wonder: when will I ever have a break?
I realized then that, like many people, I never gave myself a break. From high school it was straight on to college, no questions asked. In college it was all about preparing for the next thing, be it graduate school or a career. I worked really hard to make sure I felt as prepared as possible for whatever that next thing would be, but it was taking those steps towards actualizing that next thing that made me realize I had always thought of myself as an extension of my work. What am I? A high school student working towards getting into college. What am I? A college student working towards a degree that will allow me to work even more.
This is not to say that I regret working so hard in college. Working hard is never shameful, but when one sees his or her reflection only through work, then a break is needed. I would like to be a person who is more than just his occupation, and I saw that should I wish to actually achieve this, I would need to stop working so damn hard and give myself time to reflect.
But enough desk chair philosophizing. Workaway has given me the opportunity to get a much need reprieve while still managing to travel to some wonderful places, all with the goal of helping other people through volunteering. If anything I’ve written here resonates with you, maybe you should check it out too.