Our Impossible Problem

It has just struck me all of a sudden that we’ve been in Australia for 4 months now, which you probably wouldn’t know based on our blog. We’ve barely written a thing about it. A couple of posts at most.

Part of me wants to make excuses. It’s winter in Melbourne at the moment so things are cold and unappealing. We barely have any money and don’t want to waste it on going out. But I think the truth is that we’re not happy in Australia and have no compulsion to explore it.

We never really wanted to come here. It was an act of necessity rather than anything else. We had no choice.

Jamie is American. I am English. What this creates is a situation where we can only visit places where we can both get the same or similar visas. At the same time, we need to make money somehow as life doesn’t come for free. All of our travels are supported with hard work. We get nothing for free.

So wherever we go, we need to be able to work. This means options are limited. Before arriving in Australia, we had a number of options available to us:

  • Head to Southeast Asia and attempt to make a living off online freelance writing work, or make our own money through digital means. Something we’re reluctant to do as there’s so much competition out there and we barely even know where to start.
  • Head to another country where we could both get working holiday visas of which Australia is the only realistic one left.
  • Go back to teaching English in Asia for another year, which drove us to madness the first time.

Going back to one of our home countries wasn’t an option due to visa restrictions in the UK and USA. So we had to keep travelling. The choice was pretty much made for us. Australia it was!

The problem though is we both want to go home. Or create a home. Settle down. After travelling for almost 4 years I’m pretty sick of working menial jobs. I’m starting to feel like I’m wasting my life and need to do something with it. I’m almost thirty and although I’ve had some great experiences, I have very little to show for that time. I want to do something meaningful, be part of a community.

I need some roots. When travelling these roots just keep getting pulled up. Over and over. A tree can never grow if you keep pulling it out of the ground.

So we live in Australia, but our minds are elsewhere. Trying to make the best of a bad situation. Jamie works casually for a cafe for cash in hand and at the moment I’m unemployed, although I spent a few months in a call center. Our time here is spent mostly in misery, doing things we don’t like. Trying to save up money to put towards an unknown future.

If this sounds depressing, it’s because it is. Arriving in Melbourne, trying to find a job I didn’t even want, to live in a place that didn’t interest me. I started wondering why we were bothering. The only reason we’re here is to stay together, but that’s not enough when the rest of our lives are miserable. Without a light at the end of the tunnel, it seems like we’re just treading water.

This is a problem I never thought I’d experience in my life. Trying to find a place where I can live and work happily with my partner. There seems to be no easy solution.

I’ve been searching my mind since we arrived in Melbourne. The result is nothing but despair. There is no easy solution and being confronted with that knowledge has meant confronting myself. Not long after starting my call center job, I started seeing a counsellor. I could feel my mental health dipping. Not wanting to get out of bed, sometimes not wanting to live.

We spent our time discussing how I felt about myself. Mostly how I didn’t feel good enough. All these problems thrown at me simply bring back a common feeling I’ve often felt, which is I’m simply not good enough. That I’m useless. That I can’t do anything. I revealed that I was finding it hard to look for work as I’d just look at the job descriptions and think, “How could I ever do this!?” My opinion of myself was low to say the least. I had no confidence. My counsellor found it to be a bit strange.

“How many people do you think can travel for four years?”
“I don’t know. Not many, I guess.”
“Ok, and do you think a person who isn’t confident could do it?”
“I suppose not, no.”

The counsellor was a bit of a revelation for me as so many of my incorrect views were shattered. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t good enough, like if I wasn’t the best then I was shit. But after some discussion I was brought to the conclusion that this is just some rubbish that’s stuck in my head. Just because you’re not the best, that doesn’t mean you’re not good at something.

Soon after arriving in Melbourne, I wrote about passion. At that time, I was starting to feel the expectation of a year in Melbourne on my shoulders. Knowing I’d be spending another year doing things I didn’t want to. To spend a year in purgatory.

To try to build a more balanced life, I decided to pursue some passions in the form of volunteering with some non-profits. The idea being that this can take me one step closer to getting paid to do these things I love when I settle down. When I finally plant those roots.

So far it’s been helpful. My time in Melbourne hasn’t been completely unproductive. It has some meaning.

But still that problem looms over us. Will we ever get to settle down and will it be together?

Our current shaky plan is to head back to England in January. The light at the end of our tunnel. We hope Jamie can find a place to study a Masters degree and get a student visa. It’ll give me enough time to satisfy the requirements for her partner’s visa. Maybe that will take us closer to settling down. Jamie’s not enthusiastic about doing it and it’ll mean more debt. But there aren’t many other choices.

Until then we’ll focus on getting by, try to make enough money to get out of Australia and still be happy enough until then. When we start again, hopefully it’ll be for the last time.

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4 thoughts on “Our Impossible Problem”

  1. Incredibly inspiring post, Dan. Your beautifully written article reveals a real rawness and vulnerability that so few people would be able to share so openly. Thanks for sharing x

    1. Hah, thanks Tu. What a glowing review, I need to bring you into job interviews with me to talk on my behalf.

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