Here I am, on an adventure of a lifetime, sitting in a hostel in a city far, far, far away from the life I lived in New York City. Everyday of my trip has been spent eating exotic food, visiting beautiful places and having new cultural experiences. It has been nothing short of phenomenal. And yet, here I am, sitting in this hostel almost missing my 9am - 6:30pm job in New York City.
At first I experienced guilt about having this feeling. There are people sitting at their desks right now, sneakily scrolling through Instagram while their boss isn’t looking. They are staring at pics of beautiful people strolling down beautiful beaches wishing they were anywhere rather than sitting in front of a computer screen. I know these people exist because I was one of them not long ago.
How can I indulge in the idea that I miss my desk job when I was once wishing to escape it?
Well, I have a PSA for my fellow career-orientated long-term travelers: IT IS OKAY TO MISS YOUR DESK JOB WHILE ON YOUR TRIP OF A LIFETIME.
It may be a puzzling phenomenon of the travel junkie / classic workaholic but trust me, it is normal. Your career is something you have poured a lot of time, energy and emotion into so it only makes sense that you are attached to it. It is something for which you have shed blood, sweat and tears. It has been a huge part of your life for a long time, don’t discredit that.
In order to process these feelings I was having I wanted to make what I was experiencing more easily digestible for myself. So, I broken down what I miss the most about my job and here they are.
The simplicity of MY daily routine
Don’t get me wrong, escaping the mundane routine of a 9 - 6:30 job is one of the greatest joys of traveling. I have gotten to experience the true freedom of doing what I want, when I want without the restriction of being locked down at a desk for 9 hours a day. But, a few months into my amazing adventure of a lifetime I did reach a point where I started to miss a bit of a routine.
Traveling is a complicated dance of planning and spontaneity. Undoubtably, there will be entire afternoons spent connected to shitty WiFi, trying to figure out how the heck you’re going to get from point A -> B without spending a shit tonne of money, do 7 different bus transfers or cross 3 boarders unnecessarily. Okay, those are slight exaggerations but it does feel that way some times! Piecing together the travel puzzle can be exhausting and there is nothing worse than realizing you made the mistake of booking your flight 1 day before you were meant to or that you have a night when you forgot to book a hostel (both of which have happened to us).
It is these moments when I crave the simplicity of a routine again. The ease of waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. Spending 9 hours at my desk and not having to stress about bus connections or which night we are in which hostel. I miss going to sleep in the same bed every night and knowing where everything is at my desk. It does start to seem like a lifestyle with a stable job is a bit of a luxury.
My gROUP OF OFFICE BESTIES
While traveling I have met some absolutely amazing people. People who became friends for life after only spending one week together at a random hostel in a random country. But, there are also the people at home who I miss. It is only natural that during the time you spend at work you make some pretty close friendships. You spend hours upon hours with these people. Celebrating each other’s accomplishments. Moaning about the same pain-points in the office. Eating lunch at the same spot together day after day (shout out to Sweetgreen for providing me lunch for 2 years). Of course I am going to miss their company and experience some major office FOMO. It always sparks a little drop of homesickness when I watch their Instagram Stories of any party that happens or them all eating cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday when I’m not there.
The Feeling of Accomplishment I GOT from NAILING IT AT WORK.
Have I felt immensely accomplished during my travels so far? Yes, I have.
Did I feel accomplished when I managed to climb to the top of Fitz Roy in El Chalten? Yes.
Did I feel accomplished when I managed to book the most epic hostel in Bariloche? Yes.
Did I feel accomplished when I found a secret little parrilla in Buenos Aires that served epic Choripans? Yes.
Is this the same feeling of accomplishment I used to get from kicking-ass at work? No, it isn’t. And that makes complete sense. When you’re traveling you’re testing yourself in new ways. The things that bring you a feeling of accomplishment are different than the ones back home.
Do I miss the rush of nailing a client presentation? Yes.
Do I miss the ah-ha moment of discovering a golden-nugget insight for a strategy? Yes.
Do I miss creating digestible graphs/tables of complicated information for decks? Yes.
But I know while it may seem a little odd to miss these things it is a great thing that I do! It affirms that I am driven by my successes at work. That work is something that I loved and hence miss. It is a feeling that I want to have again someday. It means that I enjoyed aspects of my job and I want the chance to feel that rush of success once again. I may be on an extended ‘vacation’ but I haven’t lost my passion for my job.
ACTIVELY GRINDING towards MY CAREER GOALS.
There is no dispute that traveling is one of the best things you can do for your personal growth. As I just said, it has tested me in ways that I would have never experience back home. It broadens how you think about the world by exposing you to people, places and cultures you would have never had the chance to see otherwise.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss the grind of working towards my career growth. It is an exciting and demanding process and the achievement I felt at the end was worth every second. Missing that is a good thing but I know it is a false feeling. While it may not always feel like it traveling is helping me build skills that will benefit my career in the long run. So, while I may not actively be sitting at a desk working towards a promotion, I am building personal skills that will make me a more experienced, desired and valuable professional in the future.
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