Being an (ex) teacher I know what it’s like to have a month or two away from work so I thought quitting work to travel the world would be a breeze. My friends would endlessly comment on how amazing it must be to have long summers off and I felt guilty for not always enjoying this ‘perk’.
Don’t get me wrong, during the busy terms the holidays are what keep you going. It was a race to the finish line. But after a week of sorting out my classroom, finishing planning, marking the books I’d put aside for a week knowing the holidays were fast approaching, I always felt a bit empty. Six whole weeks of no responsibility. Sounds great! But what do you do?
I mean, there were obvious things you could fill some time with. You could book an incredibly overpriced holiday, with your colleagues, because who else is going to pay 3x the normal amount for flights and go somewhere swimming with screaming children. You could meet with your colleagues for days out, because everyone else is at work. You could tidy your house. You could keep on top of the washing, and make sure your car always has petrol in it, and do some proper cooking.
By the time you’re done trying to keep occupied and make the most of this precious time your holiday is over, you’re back to school, your house immediately looks like something from ‘hoarders’, your red petrol light is permanently flashing and you can’t remember the last time you didn’t heat up canned soup for dinner. Then, when you look back at your holidays you wonder why you didn’t make better use of your time. Why you didn’t try harder to catch up with friends, or get your hair done, or enjoy going to the toilet WHENEVER YOU WANTED. A lovely little cycle of exhaustion and guilt.
When I quit work I didn’t consider the fact that this daily struggle of wanting (and often failing) to be productive, would become my life. Once the holidays were over and everyone else was starting back at school I had a big whole in my life and I didn’t predict the feeling it would bring. I spent a month wondering why I wasn’t happy. I was working towards something I’d always dreamed of. It wasn’t until I received a phone call from work asking for some help that I realised, I wasn’t needed anymore, at least not in the ways I was used to.
I could fill my days with what I wanted, and I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted. Having spent so much time following someone elses purpose I had lost track of my purpose. I figured this out one very cold and miserable morning alone on the boat and since then I’ve done a lot of thinking, about what I need. I’ve started to learn yoga again, taken time to improve my computer skills (alright, it’s only been a few weeks!), I’ve downloaded my ‘learn Spanish’ app again so that it will start to work via osmosis and I’ll be fluent by the end of the month. I’m needed again, only this time by me.