There’s nothing like a trip home for a case of the ‘Who am I’s’…
I approached it with trepidation, and was left with a sinking mix of guilt, confusion and unease.
Trips of old had taught me that a return to the UK was always a disorientating experience— new lessons and growth struggling to stay afloat and mesh with habits of old.
This time held different challenges. Whereas in the past, I have always travelled with something to come back to — the start of uni, a new term or a new job — this return was merely a stopover on an unconventional journey with no apparent destination.
I have never had trouble with answering the question ‘what next?’. I studied hard at school, gained good results, went on a gap year, then to uni, internships, journalism school, a graduate scheme, and finally the job I thought was perfect. It was a job to be proud of — difficult to get in to and admirable for its ethics. I was a writer for one of the world’s largest humanitarian charities. It’s the sort of position that makes for an excellent answer to ‘what do you do for work?’, prompting smiles and coos of approval.
Nowadays, the same question is difficult to answer. The truth is I’m still working out the response. When we left the UK fifteen months ago, I had no plan, only to try and explore what I wanted and hopefully come up with some answers along the way.
It soon became clear that patience wasn’t my forte, and planning and work were my habit. In Buenos Aires, I went into overdrive, frantically looking for freelance jobs in a career I’d decided wasn’t for me. Luckily, I caught myself, and instead threw my efforts into this blog and plans for a vegetarian travel guide. I felt like perhaps I’d found my passion until my yoga teacher training course threw everything out of shape, or back into shape depending on how you see it.
The pursuit of balance
During that month, I was forced away from the computer and brought face to face with myself and all my habits. I re-discovered how much I like working with people, and the value of time offline. Returning to a life as intensely tech-based as before wasn’t a viable option. And so I changed things. I started teaching yoga on a donation basis, I spent less time on the computer and explored other options, culminating in a return to an age-old dream of building a beautiful retreat centre.
Again, as with so many times before, I had a plan, and it felt good — but I also knew it needed time and patience. That choice needs to marinate and raises as many questions as it does answers — what would I do for the other half of the year? How does it fit with Steve’s work? Do I want to set up a base so far from home? Is it definitely what I’d enjoy? The list goes on and on.
So that’s where I’m at — my answer to what I’m doing. It’s not a simple response and one that my culture doesn’t quite get. “When are you going to return to real life?”, “How lucky you are to always be on holiday!”, and “Don’t you just want to come home and start getting on with something?” were some responses I encountered. This is real life, it’s not a holiday and I am trying to get on with something. I know the answers, but the more I was questioned, the more I began to doubt, and those doubts come down to guilt.