As I patiently wait for a key piece of data from a friend and former colleague for my next post, I thought now would be a good time to dig up some notes I had made earlier about how my career break really isn’t all that much of a break at times. I know how that sounds if you’re in a cubicle reading this or taking a break from your 80-page thesis – obnoxious. But hear me out. If it was just me flying to an exotic destination to work on my tan, sip on ruby colored drinks and have love affairs with local men, I could see the justification for rolling your eyes at me. But this isn’t a complaining post; it’s more of an interesting revelation of self-awareness that I recently discovered.
Bloggers can have deadlines too!
I could see the disbelief one might have towards me calling whatever it is that I’m doing, “work”, if I had flown to an exotic beach locale where all I did was work on my tan, sip ruby colored drinks and had love affairs with local men, but that is clearly not my current situation (well, at least not yet). I’m a bumbling little nomad constantly scoping and planning my next destination while trying to produce and promote my bumbling little blog. It’s unpaid work. It’s fun work. But it’s still definitely an expenditure of time and effort in the hope of creating an interesting and dynamic blog that I can one day turn into a book.
This isn’t what I tell myself to make myself feel better about being unemployed for 2+ years. It was simply the realization I came to after writing an e-mail to a good friend detailing what I’m doing on a daily basis. After I considered all of the research into traveling logistics, networking with media, locals and former colleagues, actual writing and administrative tasks that keep me on the right side of the law, I realized that I am definitely more productive than I imagined I would be. Now with my current volunteer position at Pro Mujer on top of all that, I might even be so bold as to say I’m overworked at the moment.
How very ‘Inception’ of you?
Speaking of my volunteer position, I have to mention that one of the things I had thought a lot about while planning this trip was incorporating volunteer and paid work positions into my travels. Several reasons for this included: breaking up the monotony of traveling, grounding myself in a place for a substantial amount of time, continuing to build valuable skills and of course a little extra pocket change. I’ve especially been toying with the idea of finding temporary paid work as a means of extending my career break for an extra year or so. That’s why, when an opportunity to work for two months in Spain came up, I was genuinely gutted that I couldn’t accept it.
I woke up the other morning and checked my e-mail as I usually do in my standard routine. Normally, there’s nothing special to note, but this time I spotted an intriguing subject line through my early morning haze, “Do you want to make some money?” My smirk morphed into a raised eyebrow when I saw that the sender was none other than my former boss in Amsterdam. He was inquiring as to whether I would be interested in doing a project that required a Spanish speaker for two months in Madrid. My immediate verbal response was , “Hell yeah!” I love Spain and at that moment, I was in desperate need of some sunshine and amazing food, and the work for money bit would just be a nice bonus. The only catch was that he needed me to start next week. Dagger! I thanked him for thinking of me, explained that I was already committed to working at Pro Mujer until March and expressed interest in any future opportunities he might have.
I went to work and spent the morning mentally banging my head against the wall repeating over and over, “Jamón Ibérico.” I told my other career breaker friend about my disappointment in not being able to take the assignment and he was quick to remind me that the point of a career break is to actually take a break. In a way it kind of felt like the same conversation you have when a friend is telling you not to go back to your ex-boyfriend. But I really didn’t see taking on a two month contract with my former boss as a step backward. I figured I could go work for two months and then come back to Peru and pick up where I left off. I was actually thinking that I could really use a break from all of this traveling in South America nonsense. A break from the break! Of course, I could also see where this could become a slippery slope. After one month in Spain, I could easily see myself saying, “I can’t take it here anymore. I need to go to Portugal for the weekend.” And from there, who knows? As silly as this could get, I have to say, at times like this, I really love the fact that I generally do have the flexibility built into my life where I could on a whim, take a break from the “break”.
This post is actually a precursor to one I want to write later on about how to use all of those experiences on the road as answers to the unavoidable, “Tell me about a time when…” questions that are so popular with interviewers these days. I’m waiting until much further in the trip to write this once I’m sure to have a larger and more interesting cache of stories from which to choose.