Half-way worries

It’s official. I have passed the mid-way point of my trip. It all happened so suddenly. One moment I was moseying along with months and months stretched out before me and the next the days started slipping through my fingers. I guess it’s because I only had a month in Australia, which means I have been moving pretty quickly. But it was still a surprise when April arrived.

Passing the half-way mark has also brought with it a new set of worries (and as anyone who knows me is aware, there’s nothing I love more than a good worry). Although it’s something I’ve been trying to work on during this trip – and to be fair, I jumped out of a plane so I must have embraced the ‘go with the flow’ lifestyle a bit – I still find it hard not to be concerned about any numbers of things at any given time. My biggest preoccupation at the moment, alongside deciding where I’m going to sleep tonight and whether I’ve remembered my passport, is what I’m going to do when I get home. Before beginning this trip I’d vaguely mumbled something about figuring it out on the way and I think I’d hoped that at some point a shiny new career would just pop out in front of me. Like suddenly I’d realise that, contrary to what I’ve always thought, I’m actually a super organised person and I’d be a brilliant PA to the stars. Or, when I was asked to step in and help resolve an argument between my Argentinian bus conductor and an angry American passenger, that a job in the UN awaited me. But, alas, it seems it’s not to be and I still have no idea what I’m going to do.

I think the problem is all I know how to do is write. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a journalist and so far my career progression has been pretty straight forward. But now that I’m taking a break, it’s hard to decide whether I should go back to what I know. On one hand there were so many things about my job that I loved: working to deadlines; the buzz of a good story; my lovely colleagues and as many cups of tea as I wanted. But obviously there were the usual drawbacks of long hours, high stress levels and – let’s face it – not great pay. Just before I left my last job one of my colleagues said: “I don’t think the Em who came here three years ago would recognise the person you are today” and that really made me question whether being a journalist turns me into a horrible person?

Since being away I’ve also been trying to do some freelance work and while I’ve had some pieces published on websites, I haven’t had any luck with newspapers back at home. I knew it was going to be difficult but I don’t think I’d realised just how difficult it would be. It’s been so disheartening spending time writing up proposals, emailing editors and making middle-of-the-night calls to the UK to chase them up, only to hear nothing back. And when you’re not surrounded by people who know you and can offer encouragement, you really start to question yourself. Suddenly I’m asking myself if I can even write? And, if I can’t, what am I going to do?

What I really need is an old-school careers adviser to give me some guidance. Although when I was at school the only two careers they suggested were journalism or a librarian and I’m pretty sure that would involve being quiet for large parts of the day, which probably rules it out. So I’ve now got approximately four months to figure out a career where the skills of arguing with South American taxi drivers when they’re trying to rip you off; bartering for a pair of flip flops and packing a backpack in under three minutes are going to come in handy. Better start doing some blue-sky thinking.

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