I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This is a slightly off-piste post compared to what I normally write hence why I’ve added a ‘musings’ category. As I prepare to move back to the Middle East following the latest ‘period of transition’ in my life, i’ve been thinking about the path that has led me to this point.
In my early twenties, like many a graduate, I spent a year travelling solo around Asia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Despite a couple of Thai muggings, a dodgy hallucination in the Borneo jungle and a leaky van roof during an epic Aussie thunderstorm, the experience was incredible and probably the making of me in many ways. At the end of the year-long trip, I returned to Blighty thinking it was time to get one of those career things, but alas hopping off the Quantas flight onto credit crunchy soil meant my path wasn’t exactly paved with gold and was a lot more meandering than first assumed. My MA degree in English Literature wasn’t exactly a golden ticket to a great job all by itself, although it helped me insert a mean quotation to introduce a blog post, thank you Robert Frost.
To give a brief synopsis, professionally speaking the intervening years consisted of mostly: applying for jobs, embarking on vocational and creative courses to ‘add more strings to my bow’ (really my bow should have been pretty weighty and crowded already what with that FOUR years I spent at University), numerous unpaid internships in desirable fields, many paid hours work in undesirable fields, finally getting a foothold on the career ladder, being booted off said ladder following redundancy, applying for more jobs, moving into a new industry, slowly realising new industry offers zero career progression or indeed a liveable wage and by the time I pay my rent, travel and bills in London, i’ll have £20 a month to spend on fun, hurray! Ain’t life grand?
This might not make for the most streamlined CV and in hindsight yes, maybe I should have become an accountant or a lawyer, no offence to any accountants or lawyers out there, you’re very savvy and I hope you are enjoying that steady income of yours and having fun making all those future plans that you’ll actually be able to implement. Well done you, i’m envious of your certainty at the ages of 18-21 to commit to something so grown-up, to sign up for yet more exams though? I couldn’t do it. I work more on the process of elimination system, to try everything going and gradually whittle it down so that fingers crossed, by the age of 75 i’ll have found my niche.
So it came about last year, an increasing restlessness to get back out into the world again, to travel and broaden my horizons once more. I was fed up of the nine-month-long Winter, the endless three tubes and a bus commute, the exhaustingly long work days, evenings and weekends, living for the weekend and yet always feeling one impulse buy away from being totally skint. Instead of hauling on my backpack and moving from place to place, I wanted to pick somewhere and settle there. Traversing continents was exciting and adventurous but it was also transient, the places I went to and the people I met were fleeting (this wasn’t always a bad thing as there are a lot of weirdos about) but this time, I wanted to pick up sticks and put down some roots. I signed up for a CELTA course, not to be entered into lightly as it’s both costly and massively challenging. Now that i’m in my 30s (super wise yeah?), I feel that the opportunities that magically appear in front of you in the simplest fashion are the ones to follow, unless that opportunity is a gruff looking stranger who approaches you while you’re walking home at night, definitely don’t follow him.
The opportunity for me presented itself a week after the course had finished, a girl I met had flown back to the school she was working at and told me about a position. A week later I was in Bahrain and teaching my first classes, terrifying but I was doing what I’d set out to do. A year has now passed since I started in Bahrain, living life as an expat and while it hasn’t always been peachy, there have been downs as well as ups, overall i’m happy that the gamble paid off. Do I miss my family and friends in the UK? Yes of course I do, but I have a pool on my roof now!! ….. and I can now count some of my closest friends to be those i’ve met in Bahrain. When it’s cold and windy and the long dark Winter won’t let up, I will be ready and willing to put up any of them who need to escape to sunnier climes and swim in it!
Who knows what else I might be doing if I’d taken a different road. Would I have made different decisions if I knew then what I know now? Definitely! Ultimately you can only make an informed decision based on what’s in front of you at the time. It takes time to differentiate between your head, your heart and your gut. If you make a decision with all three in agreement then you really can’t kick yourself later on if it doesn’t work out. I am sure I will make many more mistakes in years to come, but I don’t plan on having any regrets.
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