On the cusp of my 30th birthday, I have not been employed in over two years. Having possession of ample time has put me in a predicament of thinking more. Thinking about what I do, who I am, who I’m becoming and whether I like what I see or not. Having no easily defined occupation puts me in the predicament of what to identify with. I am no longer an IT employee and can't roll this out as my answer when someone asks what I do.
On my first ever climbing trip in Australia, I met a man at a cliff being newly developed. To make conversation, my introvert self-relied on the standard “What do you do?”. He replied that he bikes and spends most of his time climbing. I hid the shock on my face well. This corporate drone was used to answers of job titles, positions, careers. To define what he does with not a hint of reference to work; his simple words blew me away.
Who I am is no longer defined by what I do for money. I no longer have a title or arbitrary responsibilities in an office. I climb, cook, travel, read, I love working out at the gym and reading about health. Who I am becoming no longer follows a career ladder, it requires me to be more intentional. How I fill my day, who I surround myself with, but also much deeper into what my values are. When all we focus on is work for a long time, how much time do we spend thinking about what our real values are and if we are living them?
5 years ago if you asked me what my values were I probably wouldn't have had an answer. But if we are our values, the answer should have been corporate status, money, personal appearance. Something happened in those 5 years and I realised spending my life in an office wasn't what I wanted. I made a plan to leave my job and move overseas. Personal growth became important to me, relationships and my health. I no longer had a desire to chase the next pay bracket, because I was confident the answer was spending less not earning more.
Two years of adventuring since moving overseas have shaped who I am becoming. Being acquainted with a life where everything you own fits into your car. How to get free coffee. How to eat healthy on the road and cooking everything on a camp stove. How to stay awake when driving for 8 hours straight (the answer is podcasts). Where to sleep, wash clothes, find showers when you don’t really live anywhere.
Well, it is the existential question we are all trying to find an answer to, including Zoolander. Who am I? I’m on the road to answering it, but it just won’t be concise enough to fit on a flight arrival declaration card under “occupation”.