Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the major privilege I’ve had in being able to quit my job, and have very little money worries, for over a year.
It was a privilege I chose to act upon, and it’s one of the bravest choices I’ve ever made. In fact, before ‘that weekend’, it was a door I chose to not only keep firmly closed, but pretend didn’t even exist, not for me anyways. I was a sensible girl, who wanted a family and craved security. That meant I would be happy if I had a steady job, and if it was one where I was also helping people, then even better!
Even Facebook wants to know what job I do!
But I am grateful that choice did exist for me, and I acknowledge it existed because of some external luck factors:
- I happen to have been born in a wealthy, high earning country (that said, we have met people travelling from countries, where they’ve had to work a hell of a lot longer to save a hell of a lot less, and they have managed to travel further and longer!)
- I had access to an affordable education system. Whilst I did have to apply effort to attend (and then stay in) University, I had access to a graduate job.
- Both me and Lucy have received inheritance money at some time or other
- I have a saving savvy wife, which I don’t always appreciate, when I’m wanting to buy ice cream! Who enabled us to both to save whist earning. Left to my own devices, who knows what I would have spent my money on!
- We both have supportive family and friends. Who after getting over the initial shock, encouraged us to follow our hearts. And whilst we haven’t had to use it yet, we know they have a safety net around us, should we need anything! So don’t all go quitting your jobs and living like mavericks!
I am grateful for these things, but mostly I’m grateful I dared to take the leap. Because this was the thing that could have stopped me from ever actually living my life!
Not spending time at work has enabled me to:
- Spend time with myself
- Test out being creative. It took me a week to sit and write something in my journal, after we set out on our trip. This was the first time I’d written something non-work related, since leaving school!
- Engage with ideas. Time to read all kinds of books, listen to podcasts and Ted Talks, and the freedom to really think
- Meet people who are living their lives in all sorts of creative ways.
- See some of the world and realise the world is not such a big place.
I also feel super lucky, that travel is easier than it has ever been before. The internet allows us to book accommodation last minute, find cheap deals, stay connected with friends and family back home, connect with other travellers and find work exchange opportunities (see no such thing as a free lunch). I was also raised speaking English, and whilst it is a mixed blessing, as I will always struggle to have the drive to learn another language, I do appreciate the advantage this gives me, when travelling.
Travel provided me with an external focus, a level of routine and purpose, without being all consuming. I can see now, how I allowed my paid employment to consume all of my energy and much of my time. Perhaps I used work as a distraction from getting to know my true self.
Travel gave my time meaning, but the way we have travelled; slowly and flexibly, allowed me the time I needed; to be busy, to play, to think, to read, to write and to just be.
Alongside time, travel has opened my world up, geographically and metaphorically. I have been able to engage with many ideas, but I have also seen these ideas being lived out.
Of course, not everyone needs to be set free from paid employment to feel free, and not everyone has to go travelling to not give all of themselves to paid employment. But for me this was the right combination and at the right time.
So what has all of this taught me about work?
Stay tuned for Part B: My Thoughts on Value, on it’s way soon!