This post is a bit of a departure from my usual topics, but it’s one that has been whirring around in my head since I visited the Women’s Adventure Expo back at the beginning of October. As I said at the time, I really loved the Expo – it was a brilliantly inspiring day, filled with amazing people. However, I did get frustrated at one of the messages that seemed to be pretty prevalent among the speakers and the audience: “quit your job – you’ll be happier, more able to do the things you love, and you’ll live a fuller life”.
There were so many people in the room who seemed to be there to learn how to become ‘influencers’, how to get sponsorship and how to turn adventure into a business. And that’s great – for them. But it’s not the be and end all for everyone and it absolutely doesn’t have to be.
I love what I do for work – it is fulfilling, enjoyable, full of wonderful people and I feel like I am able to make an impact in the world. What do I do for a living? I work 9 – 5, in an office. Ok, so my job is somewhat more than ‘working in an office’, but the point is that the location and the daily hours of my work are things that are often shunned by people on social media, my fellow delegates at the Women’s Adventure Expo, and all sorts of other people who tell us that we ‘need to find our passion’ and that that translates to working for yourself.
People have said to me ‘you’re so lucky to do something you love’. But the truth is that it wasn’t luck. It took a lot of hard graft to get to where I am. There have been some changes in direction, some miserable hours in a job I really didn’t love, and quite a lot of soul-searching to work out what it is that I really wanted to do. I also had to put the effort in to finding the right organisation for me – to find an organisation that shares my values, that allows me to work flexibly, and that’s based in the right place. These are all things that matter to me, and again I didn’t just fall into that organisation – I actively sought it out.
A 9-5 job with a steady (not-above-average) salary might not be for everyone, but it is for me at this stage in my life. I love that it allows me to spend money on the bikes and kit that I want and that it enables me to go away and ride my bikes in amazing places, without the worry of not being paid while I’m there. I love that my job doesn’t stop me from writing about my adventures on my blog, or even elsewhere. I love that my job lets me do something that I really believe in, that it allows me to open my eyes to new ideas, to soak up new knowledge and to live my passions.
It’s true that by working for yourself you gain more flexibility, so the potential to take a longer adventure-based trip may be greater. And for some people that is really important – that is the bit that enables them to live their passions. But that’s not the case for everyone. And – right now – it’s not the case for me.
I wanted to write this post to put an alternative discourse out there about what it means to live passionately. I know that I’ve had times in the past where I’ve thought I would have to quit my job and set up my own business to be able to do something that really does fill me with pride and enables me to put my heart and soul into what I do. But those feelings have been fueled not by working for someone else, but by being in the wrong job. They have been fueled by listening to and reading words from people who have done the self-employed thing and found it works for them, who have found their passion outside of working for someone else. So, I wanted to add my voice, to tell other people who might be looking for ways to live their own passions that one size does not fit all.
It may be that quitting your job and setting up on your own is the thing that would allow you to live passionately, but it also may not be. It may be that you’ve just not found the right job for you. So, when you’re doing your own soul-searching, when you’re trying to figure out what’s right for you, remember that it’s ok to work in an office, it’s ok to work 9-5 and remember that those things don’t have to stand in the way of adventures. Working 9-5 in an office might not be for everyone, but it might be for you. Work out what’s important to you and find the way of making a living that allows you to be you.
An important little post-script: my job is definitely not preventing me from planning a Women’s Adventure Expo-inspired adventure. Watch this space…