Why Don’t You Get a Real Job and Settle Down?

Paintbrush

Because I don’t want to wait for retirement to live this dream. by Paula Londe

Don’t let my freckles fool you; I’m older than I look, but still not “old enough” to be on the road. Or so it seems from the reactions I get at campgrounds as I travel across the United States. Aged 39, I quit my job, sold my house, bought an RV, and began a trip that I’ve wanted to do for years. I simply decided that I didn’t want to wait for retirement to live this dream.

Are You, um, Dying?

Senior Management at work truly believed that I was deathly ill. This had to be a bucket list trip. Why else would I leave the security and upward mobility of my marketing job? “But you’re so good at it,” they generously said. But I don’t want to do it anymore, I thought while politely keeping my mouth shut.

What Will You Do After?

At first, my mother focused on what I’d do when I return. She said that it’s her responsibility to think ahead to my future. Umm, no, it’s not. People constantly ask me what I’ll do when the trip is over. I’ve realized that it’s not an interest in my life, but rather their insecurity with me living a dream while they aren’t. Although perhaps they are living a dream and they just don’t own it that way….

Cadillac Ranch, Texas by Paula Londe

Does Income Define Working?

I earn no income, but I absolutely have a job right now. I spend at least four hours a day working on my blog, with two 12-hour days a week dedicated entirely to it. Add the experiences that are fodder for the blog, and you’ve got more than a full-time job. I’m working on my portfolio and honing my craft for the writing that is yet to come. I enter contests, submit article queries, and on occasion, win and get hired. Ideas abound for books of varying lengths, topics, and audiences. Consulting (that ambiguous word) is an absolute possibility—just not in a way that many would conceive. A TV show? Why not? So now I’m putting my face on camera and not just my voice—thank you iPhone, for the ability to do so.

How Will You Adjust to Work After a Long-Term Vacation?

I travel full-time, but this is far from vacation. Vacation is a moment in time; this is a way of life. A vacation doesn’t involve laundry or things that need to be fixed; my RV always has things that need to be fixed. A vacation has more down time, more bliss. I don’t have much down time because I choose to write…AKA work. I don’t have the sense of blissful abandon experienced on vacation, but I do have an overall sense of calm that I never had before. And I have experienced the elusive and hokey-seeming flow: when you’re so focused and in rhythm with the task that nothing else exists. And no, I wasn’t having sex at the time.

How Can You Afford This Trip?

I had a lot of equity in my house. Plain and simple. And that affords me a year-ish to live, and dream, and explore—both the country and myself. And when that runs out, maybe I’ll work-camp. Maybe I’ll work at a National Park. Maybe I’ll…? But I’m a responsible woman, despite “abandoning” everything.  I won’t “return” with nothing in the bank. I don’t want to be dependent on family for a place to stay when I’ve been so independent on the road and in my life “before.”

Will You Get a Job?

That’s a reality. But I will do everything possible to make sure it’s not a place with fluorescent lights. I pay taxes, make contributions, and support the Postal Service with an abundance of postcards. I’m not off the grid; I’m simply on a different grid. I still think heels are cute, but won’t wear them anymore because they hurt too much. At the same time, my femininity dies a little every time I wear my sensible hiker sandals. So I look forward to a life of ballet flats.

Coney Island, New York by Paula Londe

Success on My Terms

My family breeds workaholic perfectionists. It’s not always pretty. My mother and brother invest so much of themselves in work, divest from hobbies, and stress constantly. Early in my career, I decided to stop climbing the ladder. I was content in middle management and intentionally did not check my Blackberry at night—there’s no such thing as a marketing emergency. Granted, I too am a workaholic perfectionist. But my new work makes me happy because it’s an expression of me, not an accomplishment of a task.

Why don’t I get a real job? Because I don’t want to wait for retirement to live this dream.

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About the Author

Paula LondeAged 39, Paula Londe quit her job and sold her house to drive across America (she did fly to Hawaii however). Now 40, this Atlanta GA native has a goal of visiting all fifty states. Her blog showcases the charm of American festivals, and reveals that history can be funny. Follow her adventures at www.AmericanaTheBeautiful.org .

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This post forms part of the ongoing series: Why Don’t You Get a Real Job?

2 Comments

  • Good on you.
    I drove around Australia when I was 25. It was the best thing I ever did. Although I had no money behind me, had to work in a few places along the way and spent most of that 18 months living in a tent it was an experience!
    There is no point waiting until you retire to live your life!

  • It is great that you are living your dream on your terms. People who care about you should be happy that you are happy and safe. Once people stop comparing to their own terms then maybe they can equate better to why you chose this course for your life. Best of luck with your adventure.

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