When I graduated university I thought I had it all figured out.
I was going to get a job in the arts and life would be great. I’d be doing a job I loved and I’d be blissfully happy. I’d meet a guy, we’d move in together, settle down and get a dog (and maybe some kids too).
Of course things never quite go the way you plan them. After almost 9 months job hunting, I moved back home with my parents and got a job in my local theatre. It was only a temporary post, but I enjoyed it. But I had dreams of moving to a bigger city and being independent. After 6 months it was time to start looking for a permanent post, and since I was happy to relocate, I looked across the country. Being a massive theatre lover, when I got interviewed for a job at Birmingham Hippodrome, one of the UK’s largest receiving theatres, I couldn’t believe it. And when I got offered the job, I thought I’d really made it. I’d got my foot on the ladder at what I thought was my dream job.
I found a room in a shared house and relocated to the Midlands. Working in a theatre with different shows coming and going meant that I got the opportunity to watch the newest musicals and dance shows. I even got the change to watch them rehearsing sometimes on my lunch breaks. But most of the time I was sat behind a desk. At university I was a composer and a flautist, but the most exciting things I was creating now were spreadsheets and mail-merge templates.
And slowly, I started to feel depressed. And I didn’t understand it. I was living my own life in a big city, working in my dream job, going on dates with pleasant enough guys. I was on the way to having everything I’d always wanted. Except I started to doubt that this was what I wanted after all.
But isn’t that what we’re all conditioned to *think* we want. We think that we need to go to university, get a great job, etc etc. It’s all about getting an education, a career and a family. In that order.
It wasn’t until I had 2 out of these 3 and felt utterly miserable that I realised perhaps it wasn’t what I wanted after all.
I’d taken up snowboarding in the local snowdome in my spare time and became friends with a few of the instructors and staff. They’d talk about upcoming trips and seasons that they’d done. It all sounded so exciting. So I started researching and applying for seasonaire jobs for the winter. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I took days off to go to interviews across the country and waited to hear back. Eventually I got a job offer, working for Crystal as a chalet host in Austria. Now was the moment of truth. I had to make my mind up about what I wanted. Was a ready to give up my dream job, earning a decent wage for a job that paid next to nothing and would only be able to employ me for the next 5 months? And how on earth was I going to break this news to my family, who were so proud of everything I’d achieved. I didn’t want to let them down after all of the years that they supported me in the pursuit of my dreams.
On the day I handed in my notice and told my family, I felt sick, but also relieved and excited. For once I had no plan. I was giving up everything I’d worked so hard for, but it was something I had to do. I knew I might be making the biggest mistake of my life, but I also knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. It was a risk that I needed to take. Of course my family were pretty shocked at first, but it didn’t take them long to come around.
In December 2008 I boarded a plane to Austria not knowing where my life was heading. Getting on that plane was the best thing I ever did, and I haven’t once looked back. I’ve been to so many amazing places, and experienced so many great things. It took me getting completely lost to be able to find myself.
It pains me when I hear friends from back at school saying that they wish they could have seen more, travelled more, experienced more. I’m not special. I’m not lucky. At some points I was so poor that I didn’t know how I was going to by food each week. But I made the choice to question what I wanted, what I had been told I should want, and decided to search for my own version of happiness. I’m not the first person to do this. On my journey I’ve met so many inspiring people; people who are pursuing their dreams because they know that they’d rather fail at something they love then succeed at something they hate.
Now my life doesn’t look like how I pictured it when I was 10 years old. Or even when I was 20. But that’s ok. It’s ok to admit that dreams change and what you thought you wanted isn’t in-fact what you wanted at all. My life looks pretty different to how I thought it would be. It’s so much better!!!!
I’m Cat. British passport, Austrian resident, wife and rabbit mum. I'm based in Innsbruck Austria, but I love going on new adventures. I love photographing couples in wild landscapes as they embark on one of life’s greatest adventures, marriage. And I really do love a good wedding.
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