A good friend once told me a long time ago that he couldn’t see me ever settling down to a proper career. He called me a drifter. This might sound like a negative thing, but I don’t believe he meant it to be. Because I agree, and it’s not something that stresses me out or causes me to reevaluate my life’s goals and priorities. It’s just the way I am. Don’t get me wrong, I have aspirations, and I’m sure these will lead me to some sort of career down the line. But I don’t believe I should be on that pathway yet. Now is not the time to get trapped into a lifestyle that denotes permanence and security; now is the time to experience. They might not all be positive experiences, but every experience shapes your direction and life choices. Your twenties are the time to discover who you are and you can’t do that without making mistakes along the way.
When I took my current role as a volunteer regional coordinator for Oxfam’s music festival, Oxjam, a lot of my friends called me crazy and couldn’t understand my choice at all. So you’re going to work part time, for free, whilst paying rent, and funding your lifestyle?! Yes, yes I am. I had gotten stuck in a rut working at an office that paid the bills but did absolutely nothing else for me. I had no creative input and I wasn’t intellectually challenged at all, in fact I think it was almost the opposite – with no one to talk to and nothing to inspire me it felt like my brain cells were actually shrinking. This new opportunity had me written all over it; it combined three of my passions, charity, events and music, and I couldn’t think of anything more worthwhile to spend my time on. So what if I don’t get paid? Doing what I enjoy is more important, and life will figure itself out. It always does.
I’m the kind of person who is constantly anticipating the next step, the next opportunity I can grab, the next event that I can be a part of. I may have said this before, but I suffer from a severe case of the fomo and can’t bear the thought of missing out on the chance to participate in something that I might enjoy, no matter how bizarre it is. But always wanting to do everything can mean that you end up actually doing not very much. Let’s use the metaphor of eating in a restaurant; with an extensive menu in front of me it will take me at least 20 minutes to decide what to eat, and that’s when I’m with people. By myself and in the luxury of no judgement I’ll go to on average about 3 cafes, study each menu a number of times, before settling on something and not being satisfied. It’s a wonder I manage to keep to my lunch breaks especially with my immensely slow eating habits. I can never choose what to do, what to experience, what to eat, because I want to experience little bits of everything. And if it’s not a type of falafel, it’s my career. I’m not going to be able to settle down to a career until I’ve experienced everything that’s on offer… and that could take a while.
There’s also the travelling cravings that never seem to go away no matter how many places I go to. Of course to travel you need money, something that I am sincerely lacking due to my aforementioned volunteer status. But already I’m planning where life will take me when it can next afford to, and I can’t see it being a week in France. I want to see the world and that means long stints away in exotic places whenever I can take them. Life will inevitably end up going round in circles; I’ll save up enough to go abroad, will spend it all helping build community fountains and drinking rum from coconuts, and will come home to start all over again.
But the thing is, this non-career trajectory that I’m heading down is just me. A high-flying job in a skyscraper in Central London is not me. Working every hour of the day at something that doesn’t bring me pleasure is not me. Taking exciting opportunities, following pathways that I’m passionate about, travelling here there and everywhere to work at festivals for free, and spending as much time as possible with my friends and family, that’s me. It may be a hippie lifestyle, but it’s my lifestyle. And I can’t see that changing anytime soon.