Quarter Life Crisis: 10 months back home

I’ve been delaying writing this post for several months. Truth be told, it’s been such an up-and-down experience being back, it’s been hard to commit anything to paper that wouldn’t be out of date just a day later. We’ve gone round in circles on an almost daily basis, discussing what to do next – in terms of jobs, travel, where we’ll live – and the only firm conclusion I can make is that travelling has made me even more indecisive (which is saying something!) as my eyes are now permanently open to all the alternative ways we could be living.

We know we want to life-hack in some way. We want to save up a load of money, set up some forms of secondary income (outside of jobs) to maximise on this, we want to free up time for more long-term travel – both in the near future, and at some point, as a permanent solution.

Current thinking is to save up, buy a flat in London, live in it for a few years then rent it out whilst we travel again, then come home and decide our next step. Selling up and moving to a cheaper city; moving/working abroad for a bit; sticking it out in London. Having kids; not having kids. It’s pretty much all still open. I’ve been freelancing in my previous career to save up for my half of the flat deposit; we’ve been living in the attic at Sam’s parents for 10 months so we can save (almost) all we earn.

It’s been a real learning curve, in a good way. I’ve been living in a family that now feels like my family (Sam’s) – something that may never have happened if we weren’t so obsessed with saving money to set up the life we want. I’ve got really close with Sam’s family, and now even hang out with them when he’s not here. I’ve had an amazing summer with friends that reminded me why we came home, followed by our first Autumn/Winter back in the UK in two years, which has been dark, cold and a little unnerving. I’ve thought about buying another plane ticket more than a few times.

I’ve learnt how important working in a happy environment is, whilst working in an office I loved during a freelance contract. I’m now looking at jobs that allow a flexible working week, prioritising work/life balance over other job benefits. I’ve started volunteering with suicide hotline Samaritans, the first step to my dream of becoming a psychotherapist. In short, I’ve put my own goals and happiness above everything else, and it feels good!

That said, I’m just as confused as ever, I don’t know how things will turn out, but I’ve got a sense of excited anxiety that I didn’t have before, like anything is possible. I recently started a job I hated – the atmosphere was poisonous, the job role was over-sold – so I just walked out after 1.5 days. Life’s too short. I know we could be teaching English in Vietnam and living like kings working a 3 day week. We could be dive masters on a beautiful remote island. I know that I don’t want to settle for decisions that make me unhappy, and that Sam and I will do everything we can to set ourselves up for the life we want whether that’s retiring early or travelling for our golden years.

Quarter Life Crisis: nearing the end

So, we’ve been on the road for nearly 16 months now and the end is nigh. Nearly time to hang up our backpacks and return home. Wow, what an experience this has been. We’ve learnt so much about ourselves, each other, and the world, and all the clichés are true. The connections with people, with the jaw dropping beauty of the world, eyes opened to new cultures and passions like hiking and diving. I’ve never felt so connected with everything around me. It now feels like everything is possible, everywhere is possible, and we don’t want to rest until we’ve seen as much of this planet as we can. The travel bug is firmly wedged deep into our minds.

We know we’ll return to the UK with simpler aspirations than before. We want to live a pared-back lifestyle; one that affords us flexibility to travel more. We already have our next 18 month adventure sketched out – which countries, key experiences – from tales of travellers we’ve met.

Having said all that, the practicality of how we’re going to make this work is pretty scary. We’re terrified about going home, and how we’ll survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world. We’re having sleepless nights in anticipation, still unsure of the career paths we’ll take; haunted by thoughts of our stressful 50 or 60 hour working weeks from our previous jobs. We don’t know where we’ll live, how we’ll simultaneously rent a flat (at sky high rental prices) and also save for our next travel adventure. The thought of commuting on busy tubes, endless grey skies and rain are making me feel jittery and sad. We’ll be leaving hot weather, carefree attitudes, outdoors adventures and endless time to explore, breathe, stop and think, all behind us.

There are some things we’re really looking forward to, like seeing friends and family. We were lucky enough to have two different groups of friends come out to visit us for a few weeks at a time, so the connection with home wasn’t lost completely. Being back with good mates and having a laugh with the most important people in our lives was totally overwhelming, and did make me feel slightly homesick. Not for the place, so much as the people. We miss creature comforts a little more than before – the stability of sleeping in the same bed every night; a kitchen to cook in; a sofa to lounge on. I’m craving a shopping trip to replace the clothes I’ve worn for 16 months straight, or least a long overdue reunion with the rest of my vacuum packed wardrobe!

All in all, it’s a mixed bag of emotions and our main priority is to get back, enjoy the British summertime with friends and family, then have a long hard think about how we’re going to make our lives work financially – housing wise, job-wise, travel-wise. There’s a Masters degree I’ve been checking out in Counselling that I want to pursue, and potentially try my hand at freelancing as a way to prevent myself being sucked into full-time work hell. Sam hopes to return to teaching, so we’ll see how that goes. Aaaaaargh! I’m sure ( – I hope) it will all be fine…!