If you’d asked me my life plan one year ago today, my answer might have sounded something like this:
“Well, I’m flying to South America in July to volunteer and travel. I’ll spend about 1 month in X, Y, and Z countries as I make my way south to Buenos Aires. Then I’ll look for a job teaching English; I’d really like to live there for a year or two.”
(I couldn’t be bothered to think farther ahead than that; I use the term “life plan” very loosely here.)
I never deluded myself with the idea that this exact plan would actually come to fruition, and in fact, my reality was a far cry from it. I spent 3 months in Peru alone, went to countries I hadn’t planned on visiting and skipped others I had, and when all was said and done, I ended up back in the US with all those pretty plans of a life in Buenos Aires in a shattered mess on my mind’s floor.
As it turned out, I wasn’t half as enamored with Buenos Aires as I had hoped to be (I imagined it would be love at first sight, but I guess that was just the hopeless romantic in me) and I suddenly realized I hadn’t come up with a plan B.
For this, and a smattering of other reasons, I’m now writing this blog from the sunny dining room of my mother’s home in the town so small you can barely call it a town, Peshastin, Washington.
And in the two months I’ve been here, I’ve experienced some radical ideological changes.
Naturally, after 8 months of spending money freely and earning not a dime, obtaining gainful employment was a necessity upon my return. Luckily, I was proactive about it and managed to start working about one week after arriving.
The transition back into the world of nine-to-five hasn’t been an easy one. For anyone who hasn’t kept abreast of my round-the-world wanderings, I’ll provide a little context.
My last job ended in early March of 2013, and this is my first time working since then. My last job was in Thailand, as an English teacher for a kindergarten class in a private school. My last job did not feel like work. I loved my last job (and I was living in Thailand, I mean c’mon).
My current job provides a stark contrast to the sunny task of making a bunch of 6-year-olds laugh. I won’t reveal too many specifics about my current employer, except to mention that they consistently land themselves among the Top 5 Most Hated Companies in the US. Lucky me.
How exactly I ended up back in corporate America after avoiding it for so long is beyond explanation. The thing I’ve struggled with most thus far is remembering to put on my ‘corporate filter’ each day. I’ve been referred to as ‘an HR nightmare,’ and been asked on more than one occasion to ‘guard my words.’ I’d forgotten that companies like this do not take so kindly to outspoken, opinionated or innovative types; the goal instead being to squash any hint of personality and keep every employee neatly in-line.
But we all know that beggars can’t be choosers (and I fall squarely into the beggars camp at the moment), you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, desperate times call for desperate measures, etcetera, etcetera. I needed a job and I got one; I have no room to complain and I know that.
I’m grateful for the big ol’ corporate storm cloud that has come into my life–for putting money in my bank account, but more importantly for the unmistakable glimmering silver lining it brought with it.
That silver lining is the profound realization that I never want to endure this type of employment (yes, endure–my soul is suffering) ever again. And I am finally ready to take action toward an alternative (and sustainable) lifestyle.
My life of travel is far from over–in fact I might argue that it’s only just beginning–and I now know that it IS possible to have your cake and eat it, too (sick of the idioms yet?). What I mean to say is that I finally see that it IS possible to make a living on the road while having the freedom to pick up and continue onward whenever you please. There’s no need to commit to a whole year in one place, for instance, as is often the case when teaching English abroad.
So my goal for the next year is to make this lifestyle a reality, and my reasons for writing about that here are two-fold. Firstly, it gives me a palpable sense of accountability. The more people who know about my goals, the more people I’ll have to call me out when I hesitate, falter, stumble and second-guess (I plan on doing all of those things). Secondly, I can start to amass a community of like-minded people who’ve either been there before me and can offer their sage advice, or who are starting their own similar journey and can offer their commiseration and support.
I won’t be presenting many more details of my specific plan as of yet. I’ll play by corporate America’s rules for now, but I think it’s safe to say that sooner rather than later I’ll be saying “kiss my ass” to this conventional life and never looking back.