Over the summer, I saw a post on Instagram that said, amongst other things:
What did the younger, idealistic version of yourself want to do when they ‘grew up’? Are you doing it?
Once you start earning a wage it’s easy to stop trying for more. To stop chasing your goals. To become settled and content.
Would you choose to do what you’re doing now?
This bothered me hugely.
When you read travel blogs or watch travel vlogs, you soon realise that the accepted endgame is for this to be your career, to earn enough money from/while travelling that you don’t need a day job. This Instagram is suggesting that if you’re not travelling professionally and you do have a day job, you’re doing something Wrong. You might say I’m taking it too personally, too seriously, but I get really tired of “How to quit your job and travel forever!” articles.
There’s nothing wrong with “earning a wage”. I work in an office. I spend half my week running reports and creating advertising material (and reminding people of the wifi passwords) and the other half researching obscure statistics with the aim of producing one hundred individual reports on fifty individual countries by October. No, this is not what the younger, idealistic version of me wanted to do. The youngest version of me wanted to be a digger driver. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an astronaut. But the world changes, life changes and people change. I would still do a day of trying out heavy machinery. I would leap on a non-permanent trip to Mars. But I wake up in the morning and I mostly don’t dread going to work and once a month, I receive a green slip of paper in an envelope that tells me I’ve been given some money so I can now afford to book flights to Iceland or Norway or Switzerland or Romania. Because it’s an office job, I get my evenings and weekends to myself, which means I have enough spare time to write two blogs a week and to write a travelogue. I’m a business development admin assistant, a researcher, a blogger, an indie author and a traveller. I get to “chase my goals” precisely because I earn a wage.
As for the thing about it being a bad thing to “become settled and content”, I’m not even going to touch that one. How dare you want a home and to be happy, you revolting creatures.
In fact, as I sit here reflecting on what “more” I would want, the first thing that comes to mind is to own my own house.
I’m a qualified archery instructor. I’m incredibly proud of that. I hold two sailing certificates. I speak basic Norwegian. I’ve written a book. I get to go on holiday pretty much every other month. People are reading my blog. I can pilot a canoe. I can drive a manual car on both sides of the road. I’ve climbed mountains and volcanoes and paddled in waterfalls. I cover all sorts as a Guide leader – we did an entire badge on the subject of democracy and Parliament with Rangers, we’ve done fire safety and outdoor cooking with Guides, I’ve camped in summer and winter, I’ve taught clueless kids to put tents up and down. I’ve been to the High Arctic, I’ve been to the Baltics and to Transylvania, I’ve been to the Fringe, I’ve taken the train to Lapland, I’ve learnt to snowboard in the Alps, I’ve dog-sat in Provence. I’ve even been to Disneyland.
I’ve already achieved far more than I ever thought possible and I’ve done it all while “earning a wage” and living my substandard life.
What’s up next? Well, getting a climbing & abseiling qualification in the spring, hopefully getting my walking qualification soon. Getting The Book published this autumn and starting the second. Really, I don’t know. I don’t have a list of “I wish I could do this”. I don’t have a bucket list. Mostly, as soon as I want to do something, I do it. I mean, yes, there are things that I can’t do because of money or time. Own a house. Go to the States. Go to New Zealand. Buy a Lamborghini. Drip with diamonds. But I’m hardly sitting at a desk all day, staring through my monitor and dreaming about all the things I can’t do because I have to go out to work.
In summary: it doesn’t matter what your younger self wanted to do and going to work should not be demonised as much as it is. Have a nice life.