I want to travel – I’ve made this very clear on this blog, and it’s still a priority for me. I want to see something of the world before I have even more people I owe something to. I already have debt from undergrad, I’m only going to add on more with grad school or law school or whatever else I wind up doing. It’s really never going to end, and I just need out for a little while. All I’m asking for is a gap year – I’ll live somewhere, work, and figure it out from there.
And if any of my male contemporaries had suggested such a plan, they would have been encouraged. They would receive affirmation of their own worth, and well wishes.
But as a woman, I’ve been the recipient of doubtful glances and worried looks. Some people suggest that I go with a man, someone I trust. My mother, rejecting that idea, suggested I wait for a group of four to five girls I could go with (this is after I shot down her suggestion that I wait until marriage). But where am I supposed to find these women who have the same interest and timeline that I have? Why should I change my own plans to suit someone else?
I get it – it’s not necessarily safe for a woman to travel alone. I’m not trying to deny reality at all. But at the same time, there are things you can do to keep yourself safer. There are measures I can take. And I do take my own safety seriously. But I’m really tired of always being held to others’ expectations for what a woman should do. I don’t want to wait, calmly and sedately for the ideal traveling companion (or, as my mother suggested, my husband). In the first place, where would I find such a person, and in the second, I already know that I am my own ideal travel companion! I know where I want to go, I know what I want to do – who better to keep me company than…me?
I know people are scared for me. And I’m not unaware of the consequences or anything. But I don’t want to spend my whole life waiting for someone else to keep me safe. I don’t want to always feel like I’m not able to do things on my own by virtue of being a woman.