Monday 14th June was a big day, it marks my return to gainful employment for the first time since that rainy October evening back in 2008 when I walked out of the BNP Paribas offices in Geneva for the last time.
It was a strange feeling then, and it is a strange feeling now and it’s got me thinking about what I’ve done in my 84 week “holiday”. There are plenty of websites out there devoted to all sorts of different types of travel; backpacking, a gap-year, the career break. These sites are filled (for the main part, there’s a lot of self-obsessed twaddle out there too) with information on where to go, how to get there, what to do when you get and, most importantly for my current state of mind, how to cope when it’s all over.
The thought has not been with me much over the last few months. Deep down I’ve always known that one day I would return to the world of work and it has held no terror for me. I think this is due to the fact that, unlike the gap-year student or the “career-breaker” I knew that this was much more than just a trip abroad. Deep down, I knew I wouldn’t be coming back to Europe a year later. Even if I did I woudn’t be returning to the life I knew before. Having made the decision to leave (I described it to someone the other day as the easiest decision I ever took – it was) I knew that whatever I would do in the future would be on my terms.
The fact that I’ve gone back to work doesn’t scare me, nor does it bother me. Over the course of the past months I’ve come to realise that it hasn’t been the not working that was important. As strange as it might sound, I don’t think that it was the travelling either, although obviously it’s been an incredible experience.
What has been important since leaving Geneva is that, for the first time in my life, I was able to do exactly what felt right, at that particular point in time. People have often said to me that I’ve been very lucky to be able to go travelling (instead of working), and I would often reply that it wasn’t luck, anybody could do it. I still believe that to be true to an extent, but the thing is, lots of the people who tell me I’m lucky, would like to do the same but won’t. They tell themselves, and others, they can’t, but the truth is they won’t.
Doing what I did is not for everybody, and in some ways it was painful, I’m a long way from home. However, coming to South America was one of the best things I ever did in my life, for the simple reason that it was the first time I stopped listening to voices telling me I couldn’t do anything different and just went ahead and did it.
Now I’m here and I know that nothing will be the same again. Never again will I find myself in the same state of mind that lead to me leaving in the first place. Life is great, and it’s 100% on my terms.