Option Everyone.

Jemma here… Recently I can safely say that I have been digging around for inspiration and bravery to take off again. Do what and go where – I dunno! Torn between ‘option everyone’ – staying in the rat race which involves saving a lot of money for a wedding, buying a bigger house and having a baby and ‘option adventure’ – working my way around the world. With Taz. We are living ‘option everyone’ right now and have been since we returned home in January, all that time ago!

Quiet times at work help me to kind of dismiss ‘option everyone’, because none of those costly things are financially realistic – we can’t afford a wedding, we can’t afford a bigger house and we don’t really want a baby yet. Also I strongly believe that marriage and weddings are 2 different things anyway. Marriage is important to me. Yes everyone may remembers your wedding day but so what? Yes I want marriage, a lifelong partner, but I’m not fussed about the faff and the party and the expense. However obviously it’s human nature to want to settle and find stability. The routine of working for myself and climbing and holidaying in free time and loving being with Taz is comforting and enjoyable. I certainly love the climbing part. And Taz in general! But my dreams are a little more adventurous than reality and involve experiencing the most beautiful and/or interesting places globally and working to fund this. It’s that simple.

Travel. If all else fails we still have our beautiful little end terraced house to come home to and although it’s a recession I can always find something to pay the bills. My pride won’t be dented. Even if shit happened and we came home after a disastrous attempt at working, living and travelling somewhere new, it’d add a bit more excitement to life than never doing anything and never finding out. We could just try something else. When people hear brief stories from us about working at Harmel’s, or travelling through Asia the reaction is positive, people are intrigued and you know you’re doing the right thing. Then to be polite you suggest that these options are open to everyone, and you get the same scrunched up face reaction and the “yeah but…”. We’ve done loads and we’re still ok…

I realise that most people are content with something like ‘option everyone’ so finding someone to talk with and share ideas is tough because to most people think I “have my head in the clouds” and can’t live like that, even Taz sometimes who’s impulse to settle is much bigger than mine. But there’s a pattern that tickles me – he becomes a different person when we reach the airport – he changes instantly from “worried about money and the future Taz” to “Mr Adventure, where to next, Taz”? I know he’s also comforted by my ability to be obsessively organised. He knows that whatever we do the bills are always paid, I know exactly where we are financially so that what we’re doing is affordable and most importantly our little house is sat here waiting for our return so that we can pick up where we left off, whenever that may be.

In a perfect world I would put our house up for rent, load the car with a tent, bbq and climbing gear and tour Spain and France and other nearby sunny destinations. We could see their cities, their countryside, eat their food and climb their rock. I have always wanted to fruit pick. I know it isn’t easy. Its supposed to be quite brutal really, but it would be a simple life and would sustain us for a while and I’d rather do that than be here.

Another option is TEFL – especially since we met people doing it in Yangshuo, a beautiful, magical place in China with too much rock climbing for 2 people to cover in a year. Or in South America we could TEFL, there’s endless climbing there too and it’s somewhere we’ve never been.

Or up sticks and move to Canada for a year. Or Australia.

So much to do. So little time.

A common misconception about who should be enjoying the kind of life that I gravitate towards is that it’s a lifestyle for young students or retired people – people who are preparing for a life grinding away at work or those who have already filled their life with that. But I wonder why do it at all, if you’re not so fussed about the end result, a big house and a tonne of material possessions that you give up when you die? Can anyone answer me that?

Is it crazier that people work themselves stupid their whole lives just to say “If I have my time again I would…” while they’re laying bed bound. Or are the crazy people those that say they are happy with how they lived life? Sounds simple to me. But extended travel is not really part of modern culture where we are all expected to be career focused, and if we aren’t, we’re perceived as not capable of a career. People that work backbreakingly hard all their lives and don’t balance that with taking opportunities that take you away from work and money every now and then have never seen both sides of the coin and that’s a shame.

I love being with people that think like me, being isolated surrounded by ‘everyone else’ gets a bit depressing and you start to think their way is right. It’s not the social norm what I’ve been doing and intend to keep doing for the foreseeable future… but massive fear of regret is enough to convince me that there’s more to life than work and reproducing. But most people will not encourage this sort of spontaneity because it freaks them out. Nothing makes me sadder and drives me more towards ‘option adventure’ than hearing people talk about not being able to do what they’ve always wanted to do, be it travel or something else, when the opportunity had been there their whole lives and they were to afraid to do it.

But like everyone I have moments of weakness where I think “Nah, put it off for another day, making that massive whopper of a decision.” Writing this blog, I have totally convinced myself. The problem is I have 1 very important person to convince. Again! One more day living ‘option everyone'”…

Jemma (and Taz)

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