Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
OTHER: Should I run away?
I really want to run away from home. Something about just leaving and starting again seriously intrigues me. And I feel so trapped all the time, I honestly just want to get out of here. But I keep hearing about kids that have run away because they were abused or stuff like that and I feel really guilty. My life's fine and nice enough. I shouldn't really be complaining, there are others that are worse off than me. Am I just being silly for wanting to run away then? Anyway, even though the thought really interests me, it scares me too. I've been thinking, and if j really do run away, I want to do it properly. I've been thinking about going to New York, but that would mean travelling across the Atlantic Ocean, which would be really expensive. I don't have that much money, actually we're pretty skint. But if I forget about the money for the moment, what if it went wrong? It would all be so new to me. I can think of countless things that could have a negative effect on the whole thing. But still, I really really want to go. And I know my parents would be devastated, not to mention the fact that I'm only fifteen, which could cause a few problems too.
Sorry, I've been rambling and I probably don't make sense. But what should I do?
We are the Elder Ridge Owls, a group of people who share life in a retirement community in the USA. We commend you for thinking about the implications of your desire to roam and for asking for some advice. Here are some ideas and suggestions for you.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to visit new places and meet new people. It is not necessary to run away in order to do this. Since your life in general is OK, you have every reason to take the time to explore various ways to achieve your goal SAFELY instead of risking your health and your life. You should also be thinking about why you feel trapped.
Let’s be very clear about one thing: A young person alone in a strange country, city, or town is extremely vulnerable. As one of our members put it - “On every street corner there is someone waiting for these young people, especially girls”. Such predators may offer protection from gangs or to show the visitor about the city. Before they know it, the victim is trapped in a world of prostitution, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, and criminal behavior. If you think you are too smart to be trapped like that – think again! Suppose you are knocked down and robbed. Someone (man or woman) offers to help you. That is all it takes as they probably arranged for the attack on you in the first place. You said you wanted to go to New York City so in addition you would be far from home and help. You are the kind of person such people find easiest to trap.
Now consider some alternatives. Based on your age, you are still attending school or should be. We suggest you explore student exchange programs at your school, religious community, or youth social services. These programs allow you to visit a different country, learn about the customs and culture, but also provide a safe point of contact in case you need it. When you are older and have some work experience, you could try temporary work in different countries. There are organizations that sponsor this sort of program so you can research what might be available.
We believe the best approach for you is to take small steps to widen your experience before undertaking something major like moving to a new country. You can start right now! Make a list of things you can do now or in the near future and then complete one item at a time. With each success your confidence will grow and the next steps will become easier. For example: 1) If there are restaurants that offer food from different cultures in your area, visit them and try the food the owners recommend. Trying food from different parts of the world can be a real eye-opening experience (especially if it is super spicy). 2). Do some online research on the costs to travel to distant countries like the USA so you can plan how much to save in preparation. 3) Travel films, books, or even the Travel section in major newspapers can give you some ideas of all the types of trips available and help you focus on possible places to visit. A tour group vacation aimed at young adults may be a good way to begin your traveling experience and also help you learn about places you might want to move to someday. 4) Get a job, part time is better than nothing, so you will have some savings and some work experience. Work experience is essential in order to find a job in a new area. 5) Get involved in new activities of any sort, learn new skills, or expand those you already have. Make friends with people from different cultures than your own both at school and in the community.
You are not too young to be thinking about plans for your future. A good way to start is to write descriptions of what you would like your life to be like in 5 years, then 10 years, and so on. It is not necessary to plan out your whole life or career as nowadays people have multiple careers in their working lives. But think about what additional training you may need and where it can be obtained, do you consider home ownership important, do you envision yourself being married and a parent, will remaining close to your parents be a consideration, etc. These larger life goals can be handled much as the smaller activities described above. As time passes, your goals may change and this is fine. Our point is that is if you proceed thoughtfully instead of recklessly, you will have a better chance for happiness in your life.
Teresa, we wish you well as you mature and learn more about this wonderful world of ours. It is a big world out there and it is always changing so there is no need to be in a hurry. There will always be something new for you to experience. If you have further questions, we suggest you write another letter to Elder Wisdom Circle. There are always elders ready to advise you.