Backpacker Spends a Summer at a Mediterranean Dive Shack

What it taught him about rushing into a career.

Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

** Republished from 2017 **

I graduated from university in December of last year with a 3.6 GPA and a Bachelor’s of Communication and Public Relations. I saw many friends graduating before me starting their careers, getting big paychecks, buying new cars, and getting engaged. 
 For a while, I didn’t know where I’d end up. I certainly wasn’t ready for all of that, but I knew there would be a certain amount of pressure to move in that direction after graduation. That’s the way it goes. That’s what I was “supposed” to do.
 The feeling I got when thinking about that future bothered me. I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let myself ignore what others were doing and just do me. By this point, I was a semester away from graduating and I had to start preparing for a big life move. However, I had no clue what move that would be.
 Initial announcements to friends and family about my decision to move back to Europe were responded with by silence. I don’t think anyone knew what to say. I have a close-knit support group between friends and family, but I could tell what they were really thinking; they wanted to tell me I was making a mistake.
 I think this kind of attitude is mainly attributed to the fact that not many people make this kind of decision in their life — much less right after graduation when it has been engraved in us that we must be quick to lay out our career. 
 I knew this, but I didn’t quite buy into it. So I moved continents and never really thought twice about it. Something in me told me that Europe was where I needed to be for several reasons. 
 Some of my family members, although never vocally opposed me, never expressed any encouragement either which made it a bit more difficult. They wanted everything good in life for me but didn’t think this was a smart way to start my career. They didn’t understand that starting my career when I wasn’t ready for it would lead to a life of “what-if’s” similar to what they had.
 Fast forward a month; my car was sold, belongings donated, and the two boxes in the closet of my old room at home were the only things I would have left to return to if I decided to ever move back to America. I was in Europe with my whole life packed into a backpack that weighed 12 pounds. 
 As I promised I wouldn’t bum around for too long in Europe, I started looking for a job almost immediately after settling into a home in the country of Malta. Not a permanent job — I planned on one part-time job at a time whether it was teaching English, bartending, or freelance writing. 
 As I was strolling Coastal Road passing my CV on to every restaurant that had an open door, I came across Diveshack Malta — a scuba diving school in the city of Sliema. As soon as I got the vision of working at a dive shack on the beach in the middle of the Maltese summer, my eyes lit up.
 I didn’t have much to offer the company (no experience in diving), but I figured I would give it a try. I entered the store and offered the manager to help out with marketing and social media for no pay (I just needed a company to sponsor my stay in order to stay longer than my 90-day visa).
 In exchange, the manager agreed to offer me free scuba courses working towards my Dive Master; a pretty sweet deal — have you seen how expensive scuba certifications are??
 We agreed to call it an “internship”, but honestly, it has been anything but that so far. I spend every day on the beach watching the waves crash into the rocky cliffs of Malta and taking photos of customers who turn into friends from all over the planet. It doesn’t seem like it can get much better at this point. Oh, except for the fact that I am able to join on dives and call it a “job”.
 Although it’s not summer yet, the weather in Malta is reaching summertime temperatures for the rest of the world. I will stay at the Diveshack through the summer and by then I will have achieved Dive Master which enables me to work independently as an instructor almost anywhere in the world; a great way to earn extra cash while traveling and without dealing with contracts. I’m already anxious for the friends that I will make this summer and psyched to keep pushing myself to further and further depths under the sea.
 When I think about where my life would be if I was still in Kansas City, I feel fulfillment. I wasn’t ready to be a puppet to the system, so I took a chance and put my career on pause. Now that I can see the bigger picture, I can tell that it won’t affect the rest of my career as everyone thought it would. I know I did the right thing for myself and for that, I feel overjoyed. 
 The point of this story wasn’t to brag about my current situation (although I do find it to be pretty sweet), but it was to inspire others who aren’t ready to commit to a career to get out and do something different with their lives. I’m happy with where I ended up, and I think there’s a feeling like this for every post-graduate out there.

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