When it doesn’t fucking matter (Sydney, Australia)

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First, I’m scared my mom is going to read this and be so disappointed with the profanity in the title. Sorry mom.

Second, honestly. Does it really fucking matter?

From elementary school up to the day we walk across the stage to get that $40K peice of paper (which like, can you not frame that thing for the amount of money we’ve already spent on it?) we’re prompted to think about the title we want to have when we start working. A firefighter, a lawyer, an artist, a teacher, a fucking you name it. Whatever it is, it has a title and that title equals success.  

Then we get that paper and get that job, and it’s time to add rankings to the title. An intern. A manager. Junior vs mid-level vs exec. Something to define your role, and to seemingly define your place in the hierarchy. And everyone cares about this (or so it seems), so you care even more.

You work hard for it. You’re moving up. Your family is proud and your Mom tells her friends about the cool work you’re doing (even if she’s still not exactly sure what it is you do); your friends congratulate you and your former teachers seem so impressed with the young professional you’ve become. And you’re proud too. Because, well, you absolutely should be. This is what you’ve worked for since before you can remember. And now, look at you!

And then, you travel across the world and realize, it doesn’t fucking matter – or at least not in the same way you thought it did in those moments. Not once in your what, four months? Half a year? Not once in this time spent travelling and meeting new people has the conversation ever been about how many nights you spent working or how quickly you climbed the ladder. And you never talked about their professional achievements either, because neither of you cared to bring it up. You were too busy sipping your boxed wine and talking about that little moment of joy you found in your cup of coffee that morning, or the fiftieth sunset you just watched that reminded you these moments don’t get old.

And sure, maybe you talked about your “old lives”; where you came from and what you did before. But it was a simple act of getting to know each other; of getting to know more about this life that has suddenly intertwined with yours and you’re suddenly learning from. It was never about boasting your promotions; neither of you cared how successful each other had been prior to flying over here. What you cared about was this moment, and how they were making you feel as a human being, and how much you absolutely needed them right now.

And that’s when it hits you. Your career, your status, your title – none of that defines you. Yes – those experiences have helped mould you into who you’ve become and of course you not only value that, but wanted that – wanted to care about your work and status and title – but, you, YOU, are so so so much more than that.

And after years of defining yourself by the program you graduated from or the company you worked for, finding those other truly unique areas of yourself can be tough. But that is the beauty of this whole experience; you’re forced to question parts of your life and yourself that you never stopped to think about before because you never really had to.

Because when you’re home, in the daily routine of the life you’ve built for yourself over the past however many years, you get used to the way things are. And in general, things are comfortable. You have your supports that make daily life easy (or easier, at least). Have a bad day? Call your mom. Tough meeting? Vent to your colleagues turned best friends. I mean, even when you have a bad hair day there’s someone to throw a pity compliment your way.

But when you’re so far away, you lose so much of that comfort. That on-hand support from family and friends and the simple fact of having a routine that you so naively took for granted. You’re in Australia or New Zealand or somewhere in between, confused, a bit homesick (and a bit literally sick because all those time changes and rainy campsites and washing your dishes in puddles really do start to take a toll on you) – and all you’ve got is yourself and your boxed and/or bottled wine to work through these crazy decision and emotions. And with no other choice, you figure it out yourself. And in the process, you grow and you learn and you realize what truly matters to you and what just fucking doesn’t.

And this is why all those damn travel cliches are true. Because like it or not, when you’re all you’ve got, you learn a lot about yourself along the way. When you’re out of that little, comfortable bubble you’ve worked so hard to maintain, you learn what you actually appreciate. And yes – if we had a penny for everytime someone referred to this trip as our own little ‘Eat, Pray Love’, we could probably buy Drake’s entire empire. And it’s almost embarrassing to admit to living that cliche of running away and changing. But at the same time, you can’t fucking help it. You become different. You just do. So fine. Sure. Let’s just admit to the fact we traveled and we changed and we “found ourselves”. And it was fucking sweet.

And the thing is, none of this is to say that this is it. Like, we’re 27. We’re babies. We have so many jobs and promotions and RRSPs and home renovations coming our way. It’s not like we’ve suddenly figured out life and will live forever as nomad spirits who don’t give a shit about real life. It will obviously consume us again as it has in the past, and we’ll probably kind of like getting consumed by it again because it’s exciting and challenging and paying rent doesn’t stop being a thing just because you’re a newfound womannn.  But perhaps knowing this is what makes this entire experience so special – because in some cases for some people in some situations, maybe it really does take thousands of kilometers and a 14 hour time difference to think about shit differently. To recognize what makes you excited about who you fundamentally are as a human. And how fucking important it will be – when you’re wrapped up in fighting for a bigger bonus and stressing about your LinkedIn profile –  to always, always hold onto that.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    You seem to be enjoying life and not listening to what society is telling you how to live. Working 4o hours a week over and over. Your doing what you want to do in life.

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