I’m of a generation that was raised being told we can do anything, but instead heard we had to be everything. We needed degrees to ‘succeed’ but were thrust from education into a recession and austerity. None of my friends, 5 years post university, are near owning their own home unless with substantial help from family or partner. We have different life milestones from our parents. Getting married isn’t the default destination of a relationship. Having a ‘job for a life’ isn’t a thing. Graduate level jobs demand years of experience and receive hundreds of applications. And then in this interconnected world we’re expected to be available 24/7. We share our best selves on social media, rarely posting about the times that show us at our most human.
The antithesis of this sometimes paraded about is the “I quit my job to become an adventurer”, or variants on these lines, which seems to have become something to be envied, applauded. Often it comes from a position of privilege, with a safety net if things go wrong. I think it’s rooted in the same logic why apocalyptic/end-of-the-world films are popular – it’s a change from the daily routine, it’s freedom (even if you’re being chased by zombies).
It’s a future I’ve entertained for a while (the quitting-job part, not the zombies part), but for now at least, it’s not the future for me.
I have the wrong personality type for self-employment; I like the security of a monthly salary and a pension. I like the daily routine. I am a creature of habit – you should have seen my reaction when hot-desking was suggested at work. I also like the different type of freedom it gives me. With (mostly) regular hours, I know that 5.30pm-9am is my time, weekends are my time. I can book chunks of leave off work to go wandering in the mountains and know I’ll still be able to pay the bills. And whilst no-one works in the environmental field for the money, a regular income allows me to save up for adventures.
Plus, my work is pretty cool. It can involve a fair amount of travel, and we’re encouraged to make the most of it. Off the back of work trips in the last few years, I’ve gone chasing waterfalls in Iceland, climbing hills in the Cinque Terre, exploring the Croatian coast, sampling the beers of Bruges, coffee-drinking in Copenhagen, getting lost in Marrakesh, a two-day train journey to Krakow, and watching the 6 Nations in Dublin. They’re also letting me take 3 months off to get lost in New Zealand, unpaid but I can come back to my same job.
After spending the latter half of my teenage years committed to one sport, I’m enjoying filling my time with as many different sports as I can find. I’m using them mostly as a means of being outside, which is where I seem to be happiest, and seeing what my body is capable of. Also cake. Cake is a key component of my adventures.
Some full-time ‘adventurers’ have written excellent posts on why quitting your job for adventure isn’t always the answer – see, for example, Alistair Humphries and Tim Moss. I’m not saying don’t quit your job to become an adventurer, if that’s what works for you then great and I will follow your journey with admiration and best wishes. But not envy. I’m already living my own adventure.