I am not a backpacker anymore. I work. I pay bills. I have responsibilities. And I don't like this life change one bit! I have been fighting this realization for the past 14 months. But I can no longer shy away from the fact that I am no longer a young, twenty something who can flitter the days away, reading at the park, journaling at the local Starbucks and saving money for the sole purpose of going on another international adventure. When did this happen? When I did become....an adult?!
One might think it would be fairly obvious. If finishing grad school wasn’t enough, then at least getting married should have propelled me directly into the mindset of responsible adulthood. Perhaps it is because I have never had a ‘real’ job before, or maybe it's because I met my beloved husband travelling and well, lets be honest, that was the only context I knew him in until the day we said ‘I do’ Or it could be the fact that I still have no idea what I actually want to do with myself and hate getting up early in the morning. Probably, it is a combination of all these factors that have kept my eyes, mind and heart hidden from the reality that I am no longer a relaxed, free spirited girl, trudging around the globe with a rugged backpack and a pair of Chaco’s.
Somewhere between New Zealand, Oklahoma and London I grew up. Only problem is, I forgot to tell my heart. Somewhere in me is an understanding that I have to make the hideous journey every morning to a job I loathe because if I didn’t, I couldn’t pay the rent, make the car payment, or buy groceries. Yet despite the fact that I know I have to do all of those things, at least 5 times a day I fight the urge to randomly book a plane ticket to Australia. Since I finished undergrad in 2004, I need at least two hands to count the number of times I have been bored at work or in class and simply gone to the internet, google searched for cheap tickets and within minutes had booked a flight to some far away destination. Even though I know, that I know, that I know that is NOT a feasible option, I can’t help but think… ‘if only’. Some would think that a foolish, impulsive decision; a waste of money. But to me, it is the life giving juice of my soul.
I never realised before my need to be impulsive. Mark my words; my desire to act solely on impulse has gotten me into my fair share of problems. Yet it’s the one part of me that I knew I could always rely on. When things we going a bit too ‘according to schedule’ I would always just go off and do something crazy and out of the ordinary. I never thought about the consequences, had worry for tomorrow or fear about my circumstances. Not everything went according to the plan in my head. I had long hours of boring, stressful thesis work. Too many weeks of over time at the bank. 15 hour days of the preschool and Starbucks. I guess it was ok, because in a bizarre way it all seemed worth while. I was saving for a trip, looking forward to travelling to see Rhys, laughing and joking with work colleagues. Never really serious in anything.
They say life happens in baby steps. Everything is a gradual progression to the next natural step. Going from High School to College seems normal because not only is it what everyone does, but because it is a natural movement. The right amount of knowledge required, thirsting for more, ready for the additional independence-it’s a natural step. But this transition from backpacker to career woman was a giant, instantaneous leap over the Grand Canyon, Swiss Alps and Atlantic Ocean all combined into one! No gradual progression, no natural step into the responsibility, instead a huge, green giant step into a harsh reality of bills, council tax and long hours in front of a computer.
I would be lying if I said that I have now embraced this new stage of life. I am pushing against it with everything that I have instead me, kicking and screaming as I am slowly being dragged into the world of blackberries, laptops, day planners and office hours. The cheap hostel fare has now been replaced by a monthly car payment. By backpack has been replaced by a trendy, stylish black leather hand bag. My frayed jeans and tank top are now grey dress slacks and a crisply, ironed collared shirt. My savings account is no longer only for the next trip I want to take, but for a house payment and future children. My worn and well loved Chaco’s have been replaced by well…ok, those have only been replaced by flip flops. I still can’t bring myself to wear heels. In the same way that I cant accept I have real responsibilities and actual life changing decisions to make.
I buy a lottery ticket every Friday in the hope that I will win millions of pounds and will no longer be tied to the mundane of everyday office life. Its not that I am lazy and don’t want to work, I just want the flexibility to be able to do something I love. Perhaps my problem is that in part I let my travels and adventures help define who I was. Now, since my job is the absolute bane of my existence yet the single thing that takes up most of my time, I am having trouble finding a decent, defining element in my life. Or perhaps I really was just made to own a hostel and talk to people all day. Until the day comes when I win the lottery, or a publisher decides to publish my book and I can live off the rewards, I will have to find someway to accept the fact that I am no longer a backpacker. I am an adult. I work. I have bills. And it sucks!!