I said in my last post that my return to the working world would be a two-part story. In reality it could probably be many more parts, but in my mind there were two major factors that needed to be addressed regarding the transition from full-time traveler back to full-time worker. Part 1, discussed in the previous post, was about how my trip did not hinder my job search but helped it. Part 2 is about what it’s like to go back to a 9-6 life.
While I was on the road it was nearly impossible to imagine returning to a desk. The morning commute was something I scoffed at; I felt like I had escaped the rat race and found life’s true meaning. I don’t take that back at all, I did discover many things that I deemed meaningful during my travels, and one of those happened to be my work ethic. In order to reach that point I did something I think was very valuable: I kept going past my initial timeline. If I had returned to work after that first year I probably would have felt like I’d missed out on something. Continuing on the way I did – ultimate flexibility that led to an expat life – allowed me to feel like I’d satisfied my nomadic cravings and was ready to return to that “real world” I’d hated referencing as such. (My travel world was just as real as my working world, what makes one deserve that title more than the other? Cultural norms, I suppose.)
By the time I came back to the U.S. I knew I was ready to go back to work – back to a desk, a routine, and hopefully a career. These were things I had never completely sworn off but rather had taken a break from. I knew one day I would have to choose between my two lives – the eternal nomad or the successful careerwoman – and after two years away I realized that I was ready to put my nomadic life in the past, to be that person who had lived the dream and came back to pursue professional goals.
After so much time living according to whim, I expected it to be a very tough transition. In reality, I was so ready to go back to work that I threw myself into it. 10 hour days felt like 2 hours, and empty weekends felt like biding my time until Monday when I would be productive again. It didn’t hurt that my first task was opening a bar in an extremely accelerated schedule.
Now that I am past that initial rush, I am happy to report that, while I do fondly reminisce about my travels from time to time, I do not wish to go back to them. I have returned to that rat race, that desk life, that 9-6 schedule, that “real world,” and I am completely okay with it. I guess that’s the thing about pursuing your dreams – when you leave it all out there, there’s no wrong decision, and even those choices that may surprise you, like returning to an old way of life, end up being right where you’re supposed to be. Because after doing a trip like I did you know yourself too well to let yourself go the wrong way. So work it is, and hopefully the beginning of a long, successful career.