Everyone has their own ideas of how their life should be. We are made to think about it from a young age, and through most of our careers we are told to have 5 and 10 year goals. In our Western society, I’ll take a punt that the majority of people will see their perfect lives as being something along the lines of having a secure 9-5 job, meeting an ideal partner, getting married, buying a nice house with a white picket fence, maybe getting a cat or dog and then having kids, right?
In no way is this a bad dream and I hold absolutely no judgment towards anyone who is driven to achieve this. We are creatures of habit by our very nature, most people hate change and love their own established routines. It’s easy, we don’t have to think too much when we wake up, we can go into ‘autopilot’ and get through the Monday to Friday grind so we can relax and enjoy the well-earned weekend. Happy days.
However, as you may have already worked out, my life doesn’t fit into this ‘norm’. It never has, and was never something I particularly aspired to – well, apart from the ideal partner bit, which I’m very grateful to have married my soul mate a few months ago (although I never even had the wedding dream growing up, my husband had more of a plan for our wedding than I did!).
I’ve worked in jobs which involved crazy long hours, many weekends and lots of travelling (think filming at 3am in freezing cold alleyways for a commercial, managing an Elvis impersonator cruise with 200+ Elvis’, hosting travel agents on seaplanes in the Whitsundays)…and I’ve not really stuck around more than a few years before getting bored and finding my next challenge. I’ve bounced between England and Australia since I was 17 years old and had more than ten addresses in the past ten years.
Maybe I’m a free spirit, maybe I’m a commitment phobe, maybe I’m just always seeking adventure and new experiences. I’ve never really questioned it, it’s just been my norm.
So, why is it that at the age of 41 I’m hearing people say ‘oh I couldn’t live like you, it’s so unsettling’.
I ignored it the first time I heard this, just thought ok, each to their own. But then I hear it again and again, every time someone asks me where I live or what I do (never a quick answer), and I guess it surprises me because I have my own expectation of people saying ‘wow, you’re living the dream’, which is how it feels to me, but instead I get ‘I could never be so unsettled’. Why is not being settled a bad thing? Why am I receiving pity for travelling the world on a luxury ship?
Sure, there are things I miss, like my family and friends when I’m away so much. My husband and I really miss having a dog around, we are both big animal lovers, but sadly they’re not exactly easy to travel with. I miss picking up the phone and having a bestie in the same time zone to spend a few hours of an evening chatting and I miss buying cheap bottles of champagne in Tescos instead of waiting for a special occasion to spend a fortune on a mediocre bottle. I know, first world problems…
However, what my life does give me is an on-going cultural education. I’m visiting new countries, new cities, meeting new people, learning new languages (well, basics anyway!), understanding the history of each country, trying new local foods (cinnamon buns from Sweden and char kuay teow in Penang – yum!). I’m doing the things most people have on their bucket list and wait till they’re retired to actually do…hoping that they’re still in good enough health to do it. I’m making friendships on the ships with people who become a second family, and my relationship goes from strength to strength because every day is a new adventure to share. Does that sound so bad?
I’m certainly not alone with my ‘unsettled’ lifestyle, the number of digital nomads is growing massively, but with the largest age bracket being 20-30 year olds, maybe I just have to accept that I’ve not yet grown up…and I’m totally ok with that!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this subject, I’m hoping that the nature of this site is attracting those as free spirited as I am and understand my wanderlust nature. Do you face pity or criticism? Is this a life you’d enjoy or hate?
Thanks for reading!