going back to the 9 to 5 after 6 years of travel

What it’s like to go back to the 9 to 5 after 6 years of travel

At the end of August, I was at one of the lowest points of my life. My freelance gigs were going nowhere. I was living alone on the outskirts of St. John’s, feeling cut off from the world. I desperately missed Berlin and the life I had built for myself there. I literally had no idea what I was doing.  

 At that point, I was prepared to move home with my parents until I figured things out. The freelance world was killing my spirit — the lack of respect from clients and publishers was overwhelming. It still is. It’s November, and I’m waiting on a pay check from a multi-billion dollar company…from a job I completed in July.

I had been applying for both local and remote jobs all summer. In the back of my yellow day-planner, I kept a meticulous list of companies where I had submitted my resume. I don’t know why I kept this list. The job search isn’t something you should take personally, but man, does rejection ever sting. 

I was so broke, I routinely stole toilet paper from public bathrooms and usually ended up buying junk food on my grocery outings because fresh produce was far too expensive. (Me, a notorious judgmental bitch over what’s in people’s shopping carts. Never again.)

Then I saw an job advertisement at the local St. John’s International Women’s Film Fest for an eight-week position as a Communications Coordinator. The job description was me; I knew I was a perfect fit. Plus I had volunteered for the Festival in the past, I knew some of its members, and I love what the Festival is all about. Sure enough, two days later, I was hired.

There’s no real shocking epiphany to take away from all this. In fact, slipping back into the 9 to 5 role was far easier than I could have imagined. I suppose it helps when you genuinely care about the work you’re doing, and the people involved.

So, over the course of eight weeks I got to know an office full of passionate, smart, talented people working in the film industry. I worked with the local media, and ran the Festival’s social media. I was responsible for ad purchasing and maintaining sponsorships. I interviewed unbelievably amazing women filmmakers from as far away as Ireland, and I found myself plunged headlong into the arts scene that I’ve turned my back on for so long.

One day, after an interview, me and a local filmmaker hung out in a coffee shop and chit-chatted about books. I mentioned my completed manuscript from last year — the one I’ve been too chicken to really submit anywhere. Having worked with a local publishing group, she gave me some solid advice and encouraged me to start taking things more seriously. I really took that to heart.

I remember thinking, gee, this is the kind of support I could be having?

I. Loved. Every. Single. Second.

The Festival went off without a hitch. I realized somewhere in the middle of all the screenings and industry mixers and new friends that the arts community is where I really want to be… not obsessing over traffic stats and page ranks and all the other crap that detracts from actually creating something worthwhile and meaningful. It’s perhaps time to admit to myself that blogging as a career choice isn’t going to work for me.

My contract ended. I said goodbye to my amazing colleagues, and headed off to Ottawa for a few weeks to spend time with my family. It was a tumultuous few weeks, again. Trying to figure out what I was doing. Trying to figure out the guy I was interested in. Trying to figure out where my little life belonged on this big, scary planet.

And then as fate would have it, the Festival came back and offered me a year-long role as a Communications and Admissions Officer. Is that a fancy title or what?

I’m always going to be a traveller, and a writer, and a blogger. It’s been a weird but fun adjustment to settle back into a routine. But routine is my friend. I’m up early in the morning to read. I take the bus to work. I hit the gym every single day. I come home to evening writing sessions. I sleep like a sweet baby angel every single night. There’s a lot of opportunity for me to grow in this position. I don’t know what happens after this year in St. John’s, but I can’t wait to find out.

TL;DR:  9 to 5 ain’t all bad. Neither is the pay check — I’m finally adding to my savings again, and paying down debt from Europe in the process. Turns out if you actually like the job, it’s pretty fucking awesome.

  • November 29 2016

    Yup! I also find that it makes it a lot easier to really enjoy travel–because you have the funds to splurge on the fun stuff, but also because it’s a really well-deserved break from the routine. Congrats! Travel can still be a major part of the lifestyle even when it’s not full-time.

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Thanks, Christine! My only travel plans for next year is a one week all-inclusive in Jamaica, haha. And I am going to LIVE IT UP.

  • November 29 2016
    Cheri

    Hi Candie,

    I’ve followed you for several years now and really enjoy your posts and candid voice. I can appreciate the experience that you shared in this post. I had a good career as a speech pathologist but gave it up to focus on writing. My husband and I traveled on and off for over a year, both taking a U.S. road trip and going to Europe (we hiked Camino del Norte–what a priceless experience). I’ve been writing, publishing blog posts and working on a book, and I was determined to somehow make it as a writer. But after a year and a half of struggling and not having a home, my husband and I realized that we don’t like to struggle, so we found a really cool place to live (Alaska) and I took a decent paying job as a speech pathologist in a great facility. In some ways I felt like a failure, going back to the 9-5 not having yet succeeded as a writer, but it’s still a great job, I help people, I love the paycheck and the stable home, and I still write every night, work on my book, and publish blog posts–now it’s just about life in Alaska. You too live in an amazing place, and I have enjoyed your Canadian posts very much. Like many Americans, Western Canada is way at the top of our list of must-visit places, so I hope that you keep writing about your experiences and your area of the world! Cheri

    • November 29 2016
      Cheri

      Oops! I said western Canada, but I meant eastern Canada. :-)

      Cheri

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Aw, Cheri, thanks so much! That’s very kind. I’ve been struggling to keep up with the blog, but I just need to be more disciplined about coming home in the evenings and not immediately turning on the TV and flopping down on the couch. And I hope you’re still writing, even if it’s just for you!

  • November 30 2016

    I love this Candice! I dabble in the 9-5 and it is not something I mind doing at all. It is nice to have some routine for a while, money in the bank and fun banter at work. Good for you!

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Totally! Even just having coworkers is so awesome!

  • November 30 2016

    I really related to this post. I quit my job to move overseas for three years and randomly ended up back in the same job on a casual basis. I always figured I’d head off travelling again, but I ended up applying for a permanent gig, buying (another) house and getting married. But between all of that I’ve managed some great trips. I think there are pros/cons to both lifestyles, and each may feel right at different times in your life.

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Totally! I never DREAMED I’d settle into St. John’s again. Honestly, it was the furthest thing from my mind. Funny how life mixes you up like that.

  • November 30 2016

    It’s always cheesed me off to see bloggers and like proclaiming “ditch the 9-5!”. I’ve had one “normal” job for four months of my life and I loved it. I could go to the gym, actually see my friends and I wrote and drew prolifically. Routine may not suit some, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a haven for others. Congrats on your position and good luck!

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      ME TOO SO MUCH OMG. And I was totally one of those people, haha. The job and the environment make all the difference!

  • November 30 2016

    Thanks for the honest post. As a freelance writer, I know all too well about that internal struggle of whether or not to go back to a 9-5. It’s refreshing to hear you put a positive spin on the situation. Routine does not mean you have to give up traveling/blogging/writing!

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Totally! Thanks so much, Julia. I’m so happy with my decision.

  • November 30 2016
    Leah

    I hear that! I was freelance for a while, and man it’s a tough lifestyle. Your new job sounds great – best of luck!

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Thanks so much, Leah! Freelance is ROUGH.

  • November 30 2016

    Congrats Candice! You are a rock star! (Now, send me that semi-permanent snail mail address, please.)

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Thanks so much JoAnna! :) Will send you a message shortly!

  • November 30 2016

    Candice it’s so great you found a job that you love. It sounds like this position is perfect for you. When you love your job and get paid enough to live it’s wonderful.

    I totally understand the struggle of job searching. I’m in Dublin now, looking for a job (even just in retail or something to pay the bills) and haven’t had much luck. It can get discouraging, so I’ll focus on writing for a bit, but full-time freelancing isn’t a realistic career option for me right now (especially living in Dublin where the cost of living is quite high). Like you pointed out there’s too much uncertainty in the freelancing industry. I love to write and blog, but if I’m going to write for a company or publication I want to be paid, and paid fairly for it. Unfortunately a writing job like that can be hard to find.

    Best of luck submitting your manuscript. Hope you find a great publisher for it.

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Toootally! I’m hoping that with a full-time pay check I’ll be able to focus better on writing quality stuff as well, rather than scrambling for low-paying gigs just to stay afloat. Good luck with Dublin! I so love that you’re there.

  • December 03 2016

    Congrats on snagging a great position! Sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Sometimes job hunting can be such a downer. I applied for, no lie, 100+ jobs this year between Alberta and Newfoundland and didn’t so much as get a “Hell No” back from anyone! haha. You try not to take it personally but you can’t help but think no one likes you!

    • December 04 2016
      Candice

      Omg! Hahaha. Sounds like we were in the same boat. I hope it worked out for you!

  • December 06 2016

    Candice,

    Bravo to you for being honest and for listening to yourself to understand what would be the best fit for you! Too often, people silo themselves into ideals of who they think they should be, and how they have defined themselves before. I believe we can do so many things in our lifetime; congrats on your next chapter!

    • December 06 2016
      Candice

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Crystal! :)

  • December 07 2016

    This is probably me just being spoiled, but I haven’t had a real job in over a year, and I’m not looking forward to going back to one!

    To be fair though, your job sounds pretty cool. If I found something like that, especially in Berlin, I’ll probably take it as well.

    I’m glad it worked out for you!

    • December 20 2016
      Candice

      I’m actually living back in Canada now! But yeah, I’m quite happy. :)

  • December 11 2016

    I’ve been in the Airline Biz for years and still am. Good travel bennies…A job in with an airline could get you traveling again.

    • December 20 2016
      Candice

      Totally! Haha, bennies. I’ve never heard that word before. I love it.

  • January 26 2017

    Hi Candice!
    I hope you remember me. We travelled to Prague together last winter. Great trip.

    I loved your post and happy to know that you found your best lifestyle for you.

    I’m also working as a freelance writer while working for a company part time. Freelancing offer me freedom but not stability. :(

    We can write whenever , where ever we want, if we really like it. Thank you for sharing your experience and thought!

    • February 06 2017
      Candice

      Hi Ayumi, of course I remember you! :) I hope you’re well! Are you still in Berlin these days? I miss it!

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