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We were recently contacted by BBC Travel to be featured in their “How I quit my job to travel the world” series.
I was excited.
BBC Travel is a good place to be featured and I was ready to contribute our story. Except there was one slight problem.
“I’m not sure I can write this story in the way you want. I’d have to angle it differently because I’ve never had a job to quit in order to travel. I’ve only ever worked jobs to help me travel. I left to go travelling as soon as I graduated from Uni when I was 21 and started teaching in London. That is how I’ve lived my life ever since – on my terms. I’ve never been caught in the nine-to-five life that I felt I had to escape from.”
“Sadly it won’t fit the story angle. We need people who quit their normal life to travel.”
Damn. That’s what happens when you’re honest.
No. That’s what happens when you don’t fit the mould.
The story of my life.
Can you imagine how challenging it is when you apply for jobs or a place to rent when you return home?
It was a nightmare when we recently started looking for apartments to rent in Burleigh Heads after our Australia road trip. There’s little room for common sense or out-of-the box living within the bureaucratic rules and procedures and generic application forms.
We had to verbally give the story of our life with every new application.
“You see our life just doesn’t fit into these application forms. We’re a bit different and don’t fit the mould. We don’t have any rental history in Australia, as we haven’t rented since 2000. We’ve either lived overseas or we owned our own properties.”
One potential future landlady gave me a blank stare, followed by horror and confusion. “I’m sorry you need references.”
“Yeah, but we don’t have any because (repeat story). But we’ve owned our own properties and responsibly paid them off. We’ve got character references you can check out. (As a last resort, we’d give them our blog URL, “You can check us out here. I think you’ll soon discover that we can’t really do the runner on you!”)
A couple of realtors told me to “just write down the details of your landlord in the States and we can contact them.”
Are you freaking kidding? It was five years ago and I can’t even remember the street name.
Then there’s the drama of the employment history.
No, I don’t have a work referee or pay slips. I have my own business.
Not fitting the mould sure was NOT fun when I first applied to teach in the States through VIF. I needed work references and statements of services from every school I taught at. I was chasing up those from schools in London, Dublin, Sydney, and Bangkok from our location in Africa. Oh yeah, police checks too.
Let’s not even talk about returning to teaching in Australia after teaching around the world since 1997. That was not fitting the mould at all. I suddenly became an inexperienced teacher that needed to go back to University to study for another year.
It didn’t matter that I’d actually taught in London, Dublin, Bangkok and North Carolina in various roles such as special needs, ESL teaching, and head teacher roles!! How could another year of University ever teach me anything more valuable than those teaching experiences had given me?
Mould over common sense.
See ya teaching! I’ll make my travel blogging business work instead (Thank you for that by the way!)
The only way I’ve successfully fit back into society is because of people who have a bit of an out-of-box thinking.
When I first came home from London, I struggled to find work because I didn’t have a “steady” teaching history. Then I met the principal who’d lived in London and did the travel thing in the 60’s. She hired me straight away – from one outta the mould person to another, she understood the strengths travel gave me.
Then finding a house in Burleigh – one lady told us to write our story into the application.
“It’s always great to hear people’s stories. It gives us a better sense of who you are which can only help your application.”
Alleluia!! A forward thinking person.
Then our eventual realtor who found us our apartment. “Don’t stress over those forms. I’ve been doing this job for years, I’m a pretty good judge of character and I feel good about ya.”
Common sense approach!! Why isn’t it more prevalent?
Not fitting the mould can throw up many road blocks and challenges. It will mean you have to feel the wrath of the systems you refuse to be imprisoned by. You’ll be judged and criticized and thought of as irresponsible and irrational.
It will mean you’ll miss out on certain job opportunities and the chance to be featured on BBC travel.
How I refused to take a job I’d have to quit to travel the world is a more unique angle!!
I’ll write it on here instead and keep letting my honesty keep me on my right track.
I’d rather take charge of my own story and craft my own mould. The eventual rewards and opportunities when you do will be richer and more rewarding.
And it makes way better stories to tell.
How don’t you fit the mould and what challenges has it presented to you?