As I write this I have a mere 7 weeks left of my farm job. I have spent a lot of time up on the tractors thinking about just what the hell I’m going to do after the season ends. There is always the option of washing carrots part time through the winter and working yet another farm season next year. But personally I don’t really want to stare a spinning table of carrots for four months, or keep working at the farm in general. Not that I don’t love it here but it’s time for me to move on. These past 6 seasons have been invaluable at teaching me hard work and to love and appreciate food and all the work that goes into it. I will also be sad to leave behind the many good friends I have made working here, and especially the farm dog Hazel. But, I must continue forward in life not cling to the past just because it’s comfortable.
You may know that my bachelors is in cybersecurity. While this is a field I love and look forward to having a career in, I just don’t know if now is the time to start. I have thought extensively about how much a 9-5 desk job will limit my life. Whether it be tying myself down to one place, or just not having energy to live outside of work. Despite my tenure farming I’m a low energy guy, often not doing much in my free time. I find it really hard to do things outside of any job or school and that frankly sucks. I want to see the world, explore other places and cultures, or even just take up a new hobby. I fear that by getting an office job I will rob myself of such experience. Compound that with the expectation that many companies have that employees will dedicate more than 40 hours a week to work, whether it be learning new skills for the job, on call style jobs, or just overtime. It’s terrifying honestly.
Of course most things in life aren’t free, especially not traveling and seeing the world, so what can I do really? Well I could always just go super cheap travel, like backpacking or bike-packing. Issue with that kind of stuff is you often need a decent amount of cash to get going for that. While I’m certainly not strapped for cash by any means, as I have had good opportunities to save up these past few years, I was saving that for hopefully some land for myself and any potential partner I may have. My other option is WWOOFing.
WWOOF aka Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is a program where farms host volunteer workers. Workers do farm work in exchange for housing and often food. WWOOF itself is worldwide, and there are a huge amounts of opportunities in pretty much every corner of the globe. I’ve personally looked from my home state of Vermont, to greater New England, all the way to Ireland and Germany. Sounds like the perfect thing right? I get to travel to cool places, while still farming, and see the world in a financially accessible manner. Thing is, doing that alone is kind of scary. Not that I don’t trust the farmers who host, WWOOF is good about vetting who hosts and volunteers. Rather, just being on my own. I mean I’ve lived my entire life in Vermont, never more than 30 minutes from my parents. I’m not used to striking out myself. Maybe I’m just overthinking things, but it’s a big world and I’m a small guy, it’s daunting. So do I let my fears rule my life? Well I have in the past.
Heres the sad part of this post so if that ain’t your thing maybe just skip ahead.
I still vividly remember my first panic attack. Coming back from a week long trip to Utah with my parents in early high school we were waiting in the airport for a redeye flight back home. I had only done one other redeye in my life, a trip to Ireland with my family when I was a wee lad of 12. I remember feeling like shit after that, most likely a mix of airplane food, jet lag, and lack of sleep. So I had this idea in my head that this flight might suck. We had dinner in the airport and I barely ate, my stomach churning as it often does before flights. As time ticked closer to boarding I found myself increasing agitated, taking to pacing the terminal in an effort to get out the nerves. But things just kept getting worse. Lost in my own head on these walks I just kept psyching myself out more and more. On one loop my mother stopped me and said, “Colin, you’re having a panic attack. You need to either try and center yourself, or we find some sleep aids to calm you down.” Being inexperienced in this kind of stuff sleep aids are what needed to be taken. I don’t remember much after that but it opened up my anxiety for a number of years. Throughout highschool I tried medication and went to therapy for anxiety. The first medication I was on gave me bad depression and in some cases thoughts of suicide. I didn’t feel like I was myself anymore. So I switched in college, to something hopefully better. And it was. Nowadays through both medication and a lot of hard work to learn coping strategies and train my brain, I pretty much have no anxiety, aside from the healthy normal kind. Yet something in the back of my brain always says, it might come back. My anxiety was always worst traveling, and it pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks from doing any. So despite feeling much better now, will my urge to see the world be overrun? I won’t know until I try.
Why the wanderlust?
Besides just being young and full of life there are a few reasons I think that I’ve had this urge. My whole life I’ve heard about how cool the rest of the world is so obviously I wanted to see it. Not to mention one of the golden opportunities for me to travel, my colleges study abroad program, kind of got kiboshed by Covid. However there’s plenty of other reasons. For one my time on the fediverse. I have seen so many posts by people from other parts of the world, that frankly I’m kind of jealous. I just want to see what they talk about in person, not just what they post about online. And well, I may have fallen into a youtube rabbit hole recently. The videos of Shiey and GIFGAS. Shiey is known for his “Illegal Freedom” series where he travels the world by often illegal means, GIFGAS is much similar taking an artsy look into trainhopping across the world. Now, I don’t wanna do that illegal stuff myself, I’m happy to watch other people do that, it’s hard to deny the feeling these videos invoke in me. The urge to explore and be free. Eschewing the structure of modern society and just living life seeing the world. So yeah, I watch weird travel vlogs in my spare time.
But despite all this talk of travel I still have time to work things out, as winter isn’t the most conducive to that kind of thing. Who knows, maybe something will change in the mean time, I guess for now I can just keep dreaming.