I’ve not written one of these for a while, but having been back now for 3 entire months and finding myself somewhat tired of seemingly spending all my time writing out numerous different versions of my CV, I thought it might be rather healthy to try to write something else, something I actually enjoy writing – my blog!
After all, 3 months is plenty of time to reflect on my trip and given that most people (myself included?) pretty much abandon their blogs once they return, it does seem a somewhat neglected topic of discussion.
The quest for employment continues to be an ongoing affair, which whilst forseen, certainly has been, at times, frustrating. To go from being so active, constantly moving cities, sightseeing and researching where to go next, to finding myself kicking my heals living with my parents has not always been easy. It has felt particularly weird as I have found myself seeing friends go off on, or continue their own adventures. And of course all of this is to say nothing of the fact that I now seem to have so much “stuff.” It is actually a bit jarring. For 18months everything in my life fitted into one bag and there is a freedom inherent in that, which I do now miss.
Obviously that’s not to say that now I’m back I feel too hard done by. Having got bored of always wearing sensible socks and underwear, I’m not going to lie and say it’s hasn’t been nice to be able to go back to wearing wearing loud, brightly coloured and impracticality priced options instead. I am also lucky to be able to live with my parents whilst I hunt for employment which gives me a bit more freedom in terms of having time to find a job that suits me. Living with them has, perhaps suprisingly, been quite fun as having been away travelling for so long, not to mention living in a different city for the vast majority of the last decade, it’s actually been nice to catch up with them.
So far at least…
The main negative I’ve found about being back so far, is that my life does now lack the focus it once did. I first starting seriously thinking about and planning my trip 3 years before I stepped on the Eurostar to France back in March last year. So for three years I knew pretty much exactly what it was I was working toward and saving for And then over the course of 18months I set out to achieve it. But now I’m back I’m not quite sure what my target is any longer. When I come across things like the inspirational “travel porn” quotes that often clog up Facebook news feeds, or read the links and stories my friends post about groups like “Say Yes More”, encouraging people to break away from their daily grind to set out to achieve their dreams and ambitions, I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to think.
I feel almost left out – after all, here I am currently focusing on trying to get myself into the daily grind. It’s like I’m the nutter trying to scale the prison walls from the outside.
I guess this isn’t an uncommon feeling for people who have just got back from such a trip. In short, I no longer know what it is I want to say “Yes” to anymore. Or rather I suppose I do, only that it feels strange to be in a position where you want to say “yes” to settling down with a career so you try to avoid saying anything. It’s not that I haven’t focused on my career in the part, it’s just that more often than not I have felt some sort of dream or ambition for something beyond that.
Perhaps another dream will come in time. After all, I’m not at all sure why or how the aspiration to travel overland to Japan came about in the first place. I guess it must have just snuck up on me, so maybe my next goal is already creeping towards me, waiting to pounce when I least expect it. I have tried to give it some thought and it’s not as if I am bereft of ideas but it’s fair to say none of them have so far captured my imagination. Instead my ideas seem to fall more into the category of “nice to do” rather than “I must do this.” As an example, I like to think that perhaps one day I will try a similar overland journey, only this time heading towards the Cape in South Africa, but I don’t feel in any hurry to do so. And I guess it’s a bit presumptuous to assume that any future life goal will have anything to do with travel anyway. I wI’ll always love travel of course, but perhaps it is now destined to be undertaken one country at a time, within annual leave like a normal person, rather than a multi-month binge.
So… Employment… It’s a challenge I’m actually quite looking forward to. The time away from the 9-5 has actually made me appreciate many aspects of that sort of lifestyle that didn’t always seem obvious before I left. For one thing it really is, in many, many ways, much less stressful than travelling! Certainly in my experience the heightened sense of self reliance you end up with when travelling long term, isn’t always conducive to sleep!
In any event, getting back into work again will probably be a prerequisite before I can start to think more clearly about longer term goals. At the moment you see, the problem is almost having too much time to think about it, and in terms of a lesson learned, or advice I would give to others thinking about travelling long term, I think this is one of the biggest issues to be aware off. If you are setting off around the world at 18 before heading to university you will at least be coming back into an environment that will naturally give you some direction in your life to allow yourself to work out what you want to do next, but unless you already have a job lined up for your return, a break mid-career is always, I think, likely to lead to this slightly odd no-mans land where things seem to just stay still. Of course I still whole heartedly recommend travel, but if I had had more of an idea about when I was going to get back to the UK I might have looked at doing more preparation work to get me set up better on my return.
So I guess if you want the TL:DR version of this post, it’s this: since getting back, life has felt rather like being “on pause“.
Which I guess means my goal right now is to find the “play” button.