This past August I had the pleasure of traveling to Kansas for the traditional Family Reunion, where I had the opportunity to reconnect with distant family members I hadn’t seen since I was in high school. Although we hadn’t connected face to face in over 5 years, thanks to social media, many of my relatives had been following my life choices from a distance. They have watched me graduate with undergraduate, both start and leave teaching in Louisiana, graduate with my masters, and travel… a LOT of travel.
In August they congratulated me on my Masters and then the conversation inevitably turned to “So, do you even work?” Or my personal favorite “I was just saying to ***** how impressive it is you can not have a job and still manage to travel”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but for them, and many other people this whole concept of “not working a real job” is really hard to wrap their brains around.
Because in my experience, and I would love to talk to other travelers to see if they have the same experiences, when I get the question “So, do you even work?” it’s not asked with a positive connotation, or with interest with my answer. The question is asked with almost a bit of disgust, like how dare I not work a full time, 9 to 5 job?
“Wait, what are you doing in San Francisco weren’t you just in New York?” or “How can you travel so much, do you even work?” have become staple questions in conversations with friends and family these days. And honestly while it makes me laugh, it almost makes me a bit sad. How have we come to a place where not working most your life is weird or uncommon? When did we get to a place that we needed to work 40+ hours a week for 20+ years of our lives?
Now before I go too far into my “consumerism is ruining our lives” rant—because the questions above are not actually rhetorical— I want to write the reply I wish I could say to my loved ones who don’t understand, who believe I should be working, or to those that want to travel and don’t believe it’s possible. Here’s what I would say:
To start with yes, I have a job. I currently have a teaching job with proximity learn. In this position I teach in real, public school, classrooms. Actually, 8 of the 9 classes I teach, I teach in my old school district, East Baton Rouge Parish. However that is not the point.
The point is this: I love to travel. I love experiencing the world, meeting new people, and everything in between. I make very deliberate choices to have the ability to travel. I NEVER have the newest of anything. I make active decisions to spend very little on shopping, electronics, and don’t really concern myself with looking like the coolest kid on the block (Just check out my 1997 Toyota Tacoma, what up bae-bay). At some point in my life, I took a step back and realized the 40hr work week was driven by our societies need to continuously spend money, and I realized that that’s not the kind of life I really wanted to live. I would prefer to work hard when I’m working, save every penny I make, and travel. I believe that we only live once, and we don’t know what comes next. I personally would prefer to spend that time having incredibly experiences, even if that means driving a motorcycle for 3 years and not having internet.
So in summary, yes, I do I have a job, but maybe that’s not the question you should be asking. Maybe I’m not the person you should be asking the question to at all. Maybe you need to ask “What are my goals in life, and how can I make that a reality?” and maybe the person you need to ask that question to is yourself.