Social norms flood society, and it is easy to be swept up in the current of conformity. It can be very difficult to wade against concerns reflected in the furrowed brows of loved ones, the widened, questioning eyes of colleagues, and the condemnation by society in general.
I feel that conformity is comfortable but lacks challenge. Conformity can provide contentment but not always pure joy. Conformity can give you a mortgage, marriage, kiddos, pets, a car loan and a career. But what if you never really wanted those things? Conformity rarely tells you to quit your job, sell your belongings, hit the road and fill your life with adventure. But what if you have the wanderlust gene and every cell in your body urges you to go travel the moment you sign a home loan or settle into a secure job?
Unfortunately, among other genetic acquisitions, I received the wanderlust gene. I started doing research at a university in 2006, which led to a PhD from 2007-2010. The PhD then led to a 2.5-year post-doc position. So for the 2.5 years of the post-doc, I really, really tried to want a career. I really tried to enjoy my job and change my attitude so that the frustrating parts were negated by the fun, challenging and rewarding stuff. But the truth was: I was pretty miserable all along, even when I was telling myself I just needed to look at things differently. My dominant wanderlust gene seems to strongly outweigh the expression of any recessive consumerist/comfort/conformity/career gene. I’ve always loved travel and being outside, and I couldn’t give a toss about money or ‘stuff’.
So about one year into my 2.5 year contract, I made a list of job/career pros and cons. The cons… ahem… outweighed the pros 2:1. Over the next year, things did not improve. Though there were a lot of things I did not like about the job, I thought I could live with most of them, at least for a while. However, there was one thing that I just could not stand. Well, that I could not ‘sit’. Because that was the problem. In my job, I SAT on my ever-expanding ass in front of a computer for 50 or so hours a week. When I went out to do field work, I was still sitting, just somewhere else.
And so between Jan 2006 and Dec 2012 (but particularly the past 2 years) I learned that I absolutely cannot stand to sit! All that time inside a building, in an office, in front of a computer was soul-sucking, mentally destroying and physically very, very unhealthy. There was absolutely no way I could see doing that for the next 25 years, or even the next two. So somewhere along the way, I made the decision that I would not look for further funding or renew my contract when it finished in December 2012.
At that point, I decided: use some of the money you have saved from your comfortable job with comfortable salary to go for another bike tour, and then get back to working through the jobs you’ve always wanted to try on your ‘life experience list’ (like a ‘bucket list’, but broader in scope).
So I finished my contract on the December 2012 solstice and started wrapping up my comfortable, conformable life so that all of my belongings would fit in my car by March and the car could be put in storage.
I didn’t have commitments in America until early April 2013, so I decided that I had time to take a short, 3-week tour over to the Grampians in March. The Grampians are my favourite spot in Victoria, and the tour would allow me to test out a new small chainring and get my fat arse in a bit better condition/ fitness before my planned, four-month American tour later this year.
NOTE: I originally intended for this trip journal to be part of a bigger journal detailing my upcoming US tour. However, it seemed like it would be easier for people doing route research to find information in two separate journals instead of the one. So this trip will be pretty short, but hopefully the daily route details will be useful to someone.