I graduated from college in 2009. Since that time, I have built up a travel writing career, a life of doing what I love. When I graduated from college, I was off to Italy to be an au pair. This wasn’t exactly my dream. It was merely a means to an end, a way to be in a country I loved without the red tape needed to actually work in the country. After just two sleepless nights of living in a hallway and a chilly welcome from my host family, I left the au pair job and began traveling instead. I could only take two nights of being unhappy before I broke. I wanted to be a travel writer, not an au pair. I’m not completely there yet today, but I have come a long way from that graduation stage.
Hilarity of hilarities, I was selected as class valedictorian to impart my words on to my graduation class. That day I stood up before 7,000 people to tell them where to go in life and how. Since I have started this site, I have received several emails from college students asking me how to do what I do. These are the most admirable emails to receive. I wish I had their courage in college to reach out and make what I wanted possible at 18 years old. While I did do what I wanted to do in college and post graduation, I know I could be hundreds of miles down the road today had I taken more initiative like these readers.
With graduation season coming to an end and many in search of direction, I wanted to share the story I told three years ago at this time. Inspiration doesn’t always come from the noble professor or even the seasoned work-force employee. For me it came from a man who makes gelato for a living in Italy. His words of wisdom are in large part why I travel. There are so many people in this world with worldviews far from our own. We need to meet these people in gelaterie in Italy or at train stations in Austria. The conversations that come from travel can be life altering, as this man’s words proved to be for me in my life.
I traveled to Italy the summer after my freshman year on a study abroad program to Sorrento. One day, we had the opportunity to learn how gelato was made by one of the most acclaimed gelato makers in southern Italy. The owner of the gelateria imparted on to our small group of Italian students a wisdom that I can only shamelessly pawn off as my own. Gelato making proved to be much harder than just picking up a spoon to taste test the final product. Great preparation went into selecting the perfect and best ingredients. A time consuming process, with a constant monitoring of machines and temperatures, never crossed my mind as going into making such a simple dessert.
As we gathered in the basement of his restaurant watching him turn Sorrento lemons into the perfect gelato, someone asked him if he ever got tired of his job. He quickly, loudly, and adamantly remarked complete with the Italian over usage of hand gestures, “If you do what you love, you never get tired.” Coming from seemingly the happiest man on earth as his dream job consisted of making gelato, these are the words I will gladly lick up. As simple as it may sound, whatever persona you have cultivated in college or elsewhere in life, you have selected a major, sport, interest, place, friends, or whatever it may be, that engaged you to want to spend time exploring. Take that interest and run. Like my Italian friend, you will never get tired.
I hope someday I can return to Sorrento, find this wise gelato man and thank him. His words were so basic, so obvious and yet they are what I think many of us need to hear, day of college graduation or 15 years past graduation. If you do what you love, you will never get tired.
Have you ever had someone say something so inspiring to you on your travels?