In-laws have been tricky since the dawn of time. I can imagine back in the caves of our ancestors, those first awkward campfire dinners taking place, during which the caveman’s parents would meet the cavewoman’s parents after the clubbing and dragging back to one’s dwelling had taken place (the penultimate marital ceremony), that the conversation may have been a bit easier to handle; what with all the grunting and pointing going on. Now however, since we have some semblance of politeness to keep up, the squabbles of the oxford comma, and the endless foibles of where to lay down one’s dinner fork, the possibilities of the evening concluding in complete disaster is utterly without end.
And then of course for folk like us, you have this winner: “My dearest father-in-law, who so graciously entrusted me with your daughter and her wellbeing, will you please pass me the peas? Oh and by the way, we’re going to sell our house, all of our worldly possessions, and travel the globe in a house on wheels. That we built ourselves.” Insert the sound of crickets for effect.
Having the sort of passion for travel that you do, whilst still wishing to maintain some notion of a good relationship with your in-laws, or perhaps even with your own parents (or in the very worst case scenario, both sets of parental units), is akin to something very closely related to what some cultures consider having been rendered a true pariah amongst even the very worst of society’s outcasts.
But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Don’t get me wrong, it can be. As a realist, I know there are some old fashioned individuals who will forever be unable to reconcile their idea of a ‘successful’ life, with the life of vagabonding that is being suggested to them.
My beloved father for instance, a very accomplished executive, might as well have heard my husband suggest he was packing up my father’s sole daughter and two grandchildren to take us to live in the most remote place on earth. Without health insurance. To dwell in a hovel. With no money or plans for gainful employment save good will for food and love to make the world go ‘round. That’s not at all what was said, of course, but I promise you, that’s what was understood.
But, it doesn’t have to go that badly for you and I’m here to spare you my experience. Learn from my mistakes. So, how is this pitfall of misfortune to be avoided? Just employ these two mindsets, and you cannot go wrong.
- Honesty: There are a thousand and one articles that will tell you to become somewhat successful in completely mapping out your dreams before revealing your plans to your friends and family, or even to solidify your goals to a fine point. Nay, a noble and unassailable purpose, at the very least. That way, they can’t argue with you. Want to travel to Africa? “I’m going to rescue small children from the diamond mines.” Boom, done. How could anyone argue with that? Well, I am telling you the exact opposite. Give them (your family and friends) some credit. You might be surprised how supportive most of the people are in your life.
Yes, you run the risk of disappointment. But here’s the secret to this life of being a nomad that you need to tuck into your heart sooner rather than later: You’re trading security for freedom. It’s feast or famine for most, because you’ll likely be working as a freelancer, or switching jobs frequently, so the steadiness of a dependable income is gone. What you’re getting in return, however, is a life of being with the ones you love instead of working a typical 9-5 and rarely seeing each other.
It is a risk worth taking, and a risk worth telling your in-laws and your own parents about. Even if they don’t immediately understand the divergence from the societal norm that you’re striving for, they likely will in time. Even if you don’t know for sure how you’re going to accomplish the vision you have in your mind, share the vision itself. Give those you love the chance to see it too, and they just might have the missing pieces of the puzzle that you need to help make that big picture come to life. Hey, stranger things have happened.
- Transparency: This seems like honesty but isn’t quite the same. Imagine transparency as honesty’s big brother. You’ll be surprised how tempted you will be to hide your hiccups and ‘failures’ from your in-laws and friends and pretty much everyone in your family and social circle. In your blog you’ll want to report all about how ‘this trip to India is the BEST TRIP EVER,’ leaving out the bit about the seemingly endless stint of raging traveler’s diarrhea that everyone had, including the newly potty-trained three-year-old.
If you choose transparency, two things will happen. The first is that if you’re blogging about your journey, your readers will connect with you and your authenticity in ways they won’t otherwise, and so will your in-laws. That means they will also trust you to tell them if things are going terribly wrong. It sounds like a stretch, but it actually means that by being open about even the little things that go wrong, they won’t worry about the bigger things because you’re reassuring them that you aren’t keeping them in the dark.
The second thing is that you will build a bridge between you and your in-laws because there is a seed of adventure in all of us. Even if they’re the type to have never left their couch, deep down they’re still those same kids who once wanted to be pirates or princesses or any number of adventurous characters. By you being transparent, they get to live vicariously through you and before you know it, you may find that they’re looking forward to your latest family newsletter, your next phone call, for reasons beyond just getting to see their grandkids. And if you’re really lucky, they may even wind up jealous that you’re off living the adventures that they secretly always wanted to take.
As always, best of luck in your travels! Circle the wagons and share with us your campfire stories! We absolutely LOVE to hear from our readers, so make us laugh, make us cry, make us contemplate the mysteries of foraging for food while traveling in a foreign country!
Breanne Best, also known as fantasy fiction author J.S. Chancellor, was born in Columbus, Ohio but is a nomad at heart and thus she will forever roam, always in search of her next story and another adventure. She journeys with her loving writer husband, two beautiful little princes, and a black German Shepherd. Read more of her work at welcometotheasylum.net and on her author Facebook page.
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