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Are You Putting Your ‘Real’ Life on Hold?


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Written by: Francesca Larkin

I’m a graduate with over 20k worth of debt, living at home with my mum, and spending every penny I earn on plane tickets and trips away. Am I being naïve thinking I will just be able to slot into a job when I’ve had my fun?
I’d never really thought travelling would be something I would be doing right now.  In the run up to graduating from university, I started applying for what I considered to be my dream PR jobs in London. When the rejections came piling in, I suddenly realised that I didn’t care; my heart simply wasn’t in it.

A shifting focus on life

So I changed my focus, deciding to apply for ski season jobs instead. Now I guess you could say I’ve caught the bug; since my first ski season in Europe I’ve been backpacking in Asia and am about to embark on to my second ski season – this time in Japan.
I can’t say that I don’t have a constant niggle in the back of my mind, worrying about what my CV is going to look like and how employable I will be when I’m “done”. The problem with travelling is once you start, your list of desired destinations just gets longer as you talk and meet others who have been on amazing trips.

What does the term ‘real life’ even mean?

I’ve noticed that people refer to the real world when they talk about working and having a career type job. When I’m away travelling I don’t feel like it’s not real – surely it is always real life even when you’re travelling.
By travelling are we actually putting real life on hold? I have learned more from my travels this last year than I ever did at university. I’ve grown up, I’ve met people from all walks of life, and that has taught me to appreciate everyone. Everyone has a great story to tell no matter who they are, what they have done, and where they have come from.

Colliding worlds of the traveller and the worker

It is easy to get caught up in both the travelling world as well as the working world. The tricky part is finding the balance, and what is right for you.  There is always someone you meet who seems to have it all.
The nomad artist who gets commissioned to paint all around the world, or the person that gets to try out all the trips for the travel guides. But who are we kidding? For most of us, that isn’t a reality. Maybe the majority of us do have to come to terms with the fact that one day we will have a desk job and live for the weekend.
But is there anything wrong with that? Stability is something that I always miss when I’m away travelling. I hate saying goodbye to new friends and wonderful places, being unsure whether or not I will ever come back or see that person again. As much as I struggle with this, I realise that it comes with the territory.

Changes in perspective  & priorities

The key to being happy with where you are in your real life, whatever that may be, is your perspective on situations and your priorities. These tend to change, sometimes quite suddenly or gradually over time. The moment summer was over, I fled England to spend a month in Nepal; something I could never have imagined doing even six months before. Now I’m a walking, talking Nepalese advertisement and am practically forcing people to put it on their travel lists.

I think everyone should have a life bucket list just to peek in on every now and then. It’s amazing how often mine changes, which I think shows how your priorities and desires change over time. You never know: maybe one day I’ll add that I want a 9-5 job with a mortgage and a house with a white picket fence…

Find your path, follow your path

Perhaps we should be working out what is right for us right now, and not worry about the future so much – something I struggle to do. I can put up my hands and openly admit I worry and think too much about the future. Unfortunately, with university fees in excess of 50k these days, it’s becoming increasingly common to think like this.
After all your hard work and with these debts, it seems that getting a job is the right choice and to run away into the hills would be simply ridiculous. There is such a focus on ticking certain boxes; the degree, the car, the flat, the job, the salary. Personally, I find it hard to ignore that and going away travelling puts time gaps on your CV, which often do not translate terribly well.
However, it is important to remember that it is your life and in 20 years time when you’ve been working hard for what seems like an eternity, the few years of travelling you did will not matter in the working world. They will hopefully be fond memories and no longer a gaping omission on a piece of paper.
In some ways, choosing your dream is the hard part, rather than actually going out there and realising it. Maybe the key is to just be happy with whatever you’re doing because then it doesn’t really matter.
And how can you put your real life on hold if you are always living in your real life? Logically, it makes sense to weave your passion for travelling into your current life rather than postponing it or trying to get it “out of your system” in just a few months. This way you can live your real life as best as possible for what suits you.

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