Should I Stay or Should I go?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I have had countless discussions with my friends about the future, about what we should be doing at what time; do you pursue your travel and life aspirations now or do you get a good job or save up your money and enjoy these things later, safe in the knowledge you can afford them and you're not being left behind?

In these conversations I sway dangerously between the roles of Alice and the Cheshire Cat. I think absolute conviction in what you want is a real luxury that not many people in their twenties actually have; we're very lucky to have so many opportunities (let's not forget that), but this also means everyone has a different interpretation of what the best path to take is. Some people happily march off after uni in the direction of careers, marriage and home buying while others take off for travelling, work abroad and a life on the road. Then there's the rest of us, trying and quite often failing to tread a somewhat wonky path between the two.

And that is not an easy thing to do (at least if you're ever so slightly neurotic like me). I have a constant fear that life will pass me by, coupled with societal pressure to get my life sorted out. And pronto, preferably. Though I had no qualms about heading straight out to Spain after University to work at an amazing dive centre, and in going back the following year for a second season, this year I decided against going after much soul searching.

It was a great decision to go for that year after Uni where there wasn't so much pressure to have everything figured out. Don't get me wrong, there is still pressure, and you probably will feel it but you'll also hopefully be having the time of your life and you can face the consequences (dun dun dun) when you get home. In reality, hardly anyone walks straight into their dream job after University, so I chose to go and earn money abroad and have an amazing time doing it at the same time. I also needed a change of scenery and perspective, and by the end of the year my priorities on what I wanted out of a career had totally changed.

This being said, I did have a slight wobble three months into my time in Madrid as a language assistant. There were multiple reasons that lead to this wobble, including facing ludicrously long days where I would leave the house at at 7am and arrive home at 8:30pm, but one major factor was worrying that I was wasting my time while everyone else was getting on with their lives. I even applied for a job at home, got it, and then faced 2 days of agonising on what to do: should I stay or should I go? I decided to stay in the end (which I suppose in the context of this blog is more like to go...confusing) and as soon as I made that decision it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had to suddenly examine all the reasons why I loved being in Madrid and ditch all the stuff I hated (including late private classes which were making me miserable).In a surprise twist of fate, the job I turned down at home came up in October again, almost as soon as I touched down at Stansted airport, so I am 100% sure this was the right decision for me at the time.

However I decided that, though I had an incredible two summers out there and a great time in Madrid (in the end!), it probably wasn't the best move in the long run to go back again this summer. I also turned down a second job, teaching in the Balearic Islands (yes, I'm crazy). A slightly scary, grown up thing to do. Instead, I decided to stay in the UK, work on my stuff (CV, my blog, other writing, watching back to back episodes of Orange is the New Black) and pursue some job applications. Not the most exciting option until now, admittedly, but it has lead to something which I would describe as pretty exciting for the future: a job offer to be a content editor at a huge travel company! Yes this is a permanent job which will tie me down to the UK for a while but it's also in the travel industry and will mean I can afford lots of great trips abroad. It's my compromise.

To bring this back to the wise Cheshire Cat, I could never have predicted the last two years would have ended up here. I didn't make any of those decisions based on ending up at this particular point. I perhaps wouldn't have even have realised that this was the point I wanted to end up at if I hadn't made that exact consequence of decisions. I might have taken the more reckless route and be living a tiring but exciting life as a Dive Master in Mexico by now if I had decided to go back to the dive centre! Or I might have got to this point sooner, had I left Madrid earlier. Who knows? Ignorance is bliss! All I know is that I need to stop worrying about it all working out, because so far I have bumbled along on a string of coincidences just fine.

What do you think?

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