Living an Unconventional Life

mui ne bay vietnam

When I turned 15 and boarded my first flight out of the country, everyone told me to “travel while I’m young because once I settle down, I won’t be able to.”  Here I am, 10 years and 34 countries later and still I hear the same words time and time again.  I think there are two reasons for this:

1)      I haven’t gone the traditional route of going from college to full-time day job so people think I’m still in that “after college” transition phase.
2) People hear about my lifestyle and literally don’t know what else to say. 

Jade’s first trip out of the country was to Italy on a choir trip when she was 15 years old.

From a young age I was taught to do what I was passionate about and follow my dreams.  I saw what it was like to have a job which gives you fulfillment and joy, and consequently I saw what it was like to have a job which makes you miserable.  Maybe it’s just all of the Disney-themed movies I watched as a kid, but I believe that everyone has what it takes to make their dreams come true and I am not about to let my dreams pass me by.

school picture country poster
Even from a young age, Jade was fascinated with the different countries of the world.

As I grew up, I realized a lot of things.  I realized I am a terrible driver so my short-lived dream of becoming a race car driver was out of the question.  My infringing nausea on the swing set eliminated my chances of being one of those fancy gymnasts flying through the air at the circus.  And my experience almost drowning at girl scout camp proved to me that being a dolphin trainer might be a tad more difficult than I expected.  All joking aside, I learned the things that I liked doing and the things that I would rather never do again.

buenos aires argentina 1st grade english teacher
Jade spent a semester interning abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a 1st grade English Teacher.

high school environment protection class madagascar
This was one of Jade’s high school classes in Madagascar.  She took them on a field trip to the beach where they learned more about protecting the environment.

One of the things that has always stuck with me is my passion for teaching.  I was the little girl who “played school” for fun during recess.  I was the middle schooler who willingly tutored others who were falling behind.  I was the high schooler who volunteered to read to elementary school students after hours.  Needless to say, I don’t think it surprised too many people when I decided to go into a career in teaching.

Jade visited a local school during a study abroad trip to Cuba where she talked to them about the United States and played “doctor” at recess.

playing doctor cuba

One of the benefits of the profession I have chosen is that I can do it anywhere, which means that I can combine it with my passion for traveling.  I believe one of the good qualities of a teacher is never forgetting there is always more to learn, and by traveling, I am able to learn something new every day and immerse myself in a culture that I wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. 

dancing primary school xela guatemala
Jade taught English, Nutrition, and Non-Violence to a primary school outside of Xela, Guatemala.  She loved talking to the kids and dancing with them during recess.

teaching primary school xela guatemala

So back to that “traveling while young” part.  Here’s the thing.  I don’t actually have to ever stop traveling if I don’t want to.  There are plenty of international teaching jobs and taking them doesn’t mean I will be unable to settle or have a day job, it simply means the life I’m choosing to live is a bit unconventional.  I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and I am blessed to wake up every morning and head to a job that I love.  I am lucky to have friends all over the world who I can keep in constant contact with even after my time there is done.  So, the next time that you find yourself saying “I won’t be able to”, consider this: Life is too short to fall into the trap of doing what society expects.  We need to start breaking down the barrier and do what makes us happy.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

future leaders affecting gender equality FLAGE camp madagascar
Jade organized a Future Leaders Affecting Gender Equality (FLAGE) Camp in Madagascar for high school boys and girls across the North of Madagascar where they learned about Gender Equality, Sexual Health, and Leadership.

braiding hair recess guatemala
In Guatemala, all of the children loved to braid Jade’s hair during recess.

bio jade toft

Join my mailing list

No comments:

Post a Comment

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14