Gave Notice! Now why are coworkers being weird?
I moved to NYC approx 5 years ago for grad school, finished, found a semi good job, and have been working solid for 2 years. I've felt so uninspired. I could only read my past travel journals (mainly through Europe and some SE Asia) so many times, and I could only look at photos so many times - before I finally thought, 'I have to go away'. Of course, I wasn’t courageous enough to march into work and quit the next day. But after some coordination, convincing (my boyfriend to go with me - it didn’t take too much convincing) and a lot of late night thinking, and occasionally crying: "what am I doing with myself and my life?" I decided to leave my job. We are heading to Guatemala in June and will see where that takes us. Disclaimer: Travel will end in late August when we move to Portland Oregon for further work ands school endeavors.
So I gave the notice to my 2 bosses yesterday. They were actually supportive of my goals, choices and desire to relocate. They didn’t understand the travel thing - and that’s ok. I'm not trying to prove anything to them, or anyone, and honestly, they probably don’t care what I do after I leave here. And I imagine they were happy that I gave 2 months notice, so that I can train the new person.
Seeing as word travels quickly throughout the office about my leaving, and I'm actively telling a few friends/acquaintances, I am repeatedly getting the same BLANK STARE when people ask what my future plans are, and I say "We are going to travel for a few months". Then comes the flood of questions (which I feel are kind of personal). How are you paying for it? How much money are you spending? Where are you getting the money? What does your family think? How could you leave your job in an economy like this? You don’t have anything lined up in Portland when you get back? The questions go on and on.
So far my response has been basically telling them briefly that travel is important to me, and walking away. I don’t want to break ties or segregate myself from the people I’ve spent every day with for the last two years. But I also don’t feel the need to explain myself by detailing the ways that we’ve prepared for this trip (saving, etc) and how relatively inexpensive some of the places we are traveling to will be.
Can anyone relate? What tactics have you used in the past when grilled by coworkers, friends or family?
The hardest one to answer has been "what will you do there?", or "why?". Those are very hard to give specific/satisfying answers for. The problem has mainly been getting tired of answering the same questions over and over again. Also "Alone?" with a very surprised/not understanding expression is a winner in what is most asked.
I'm originally from Indonesia, a country that backpacking is not well known, so family and friends there thinks I've been having a splurge vacation for the last 1 year. The kind of traveling that they know is using pricey guided tour everywhere, hit every single money drawing tourist trap, and a lot of taxi rides. They thought the backpacking is the same thing with that, only I carry backpack instead of suitcase...
"Having kids", "settle in a place", "build a career", "when will you go home", are frequent topic people ask me. I still struggle to answer many of these questions, and sometimes feel a little sad that such a wonderful thing like this can't be shared with some of my family and friends. When that happen, reading forums and blogs by backpackers comforts me, there are a lot of people out there that understand us.
Of course there are a million other reasons why I travel, but so far I've found that people can't really dispute or question that answer... after all, most of us can relate to what can become the monotony of everyday life, especially in the corporate world: get up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat.
The truth is, you will be hard pressed not to get the BLANK STARE response from people who simply cannot fathom leaving the security and creature comforts of their own microcosm. The wanderlust spirit doesn't live in all of us. Try not to be annoyed by their questions no matter how personal they may seem as they're probably just genuinely curious that you're not following the same status quo path as everyone else. And maybe, whether they realize it or not, they might be a tad jealous of your courage, as well as your desire, to set out into the unknown...
Take comfort in the fact that you are going to have an amazing experience, and a life changing one at that. When you start to get annoyed by people's questions, just picture yourself free of the cubicle, hiking the ancient ruins of Tikal, strolling along the cobblestone streets of Antigua, and all of the other great tales you'll be filling your travel journal with.
And who knows - hopefully you'll inspire your colleagues to start dreaming of their own getaway!
If it does occur to them, they'll consider you oddballs.
You've just left their pigeonholing, their social scale, and now they don't know what to do with you. Now, if you had told them a little white lie, that you had received a job offer in Central America for a mid-sized company doing the same job you did in the USA, they'd be happy for you, make some talk, and you'd have NORMAL relations.
You see, by giving up your job and just wandering, you've become a POOR person, and of course they can't put you on the same social level as before.
Or, you've let them know you're independently wealthy, and you've just been slumming with them for two years. Oops.
So, to fix this, tell them you've just got word that you received a job offer from an international corporation, and you can't turn this opportunity down. If they ask when you come back, well, say it didn't work out, that the position was made redundant by a new manager.
From now on, repeat this story to all white collar people, or be vague about your intentions, saying you're seeking new ways to use your talents for a short time, and you can't have the company hold the job for you.
Just for fun, try out the first option on an unkown white collar person and see if you don't get more than a blank stare. Oh., and have a backstory to match the story....Even if you don't stick with it, you'll learn WHY the reaction is as it is.
Reminds me of the time a college co-ed came up to me and asked if I was an engineer. I said no, and recieved a similar lack of interest. Should have said yes. I could fake it well enough.
C-and-C wrote:In the US, it seems "taking time off to travel" is a very foreign concept for most people, even our closest friends and family. When asked about why I travel, I used to ramble on and on about all the benefits of experiencing new and different people, customs, and cultures. Now it just comes down to one simple concept: it makes me feel alive.
I was just thinking the same thing yesterday. I feel half dead living the 8-5 work week. But when we travel, I feel fully alive and never happier.
This is how I live my life though. If I want to do something I create a life that supports that desire. I am a happier person because of it and because I know that if at any moment I don't want to do something...I just don't.
Hence, that's why they think you are bananas.
For the most part people have stopped asking me why I'm going. And without exception, they ARE envious, though (and maybe I'm just lucky) they express this positively, with phrases like, "Good luck!" and "I wish I could just take off," and all the rest. When I started leaving everything and moving to the other side of the world, though, I got plenty of BLANK STARES.
To be fair, though, I gave plenty of my own blank stares in return. Like when people talked about buying a house, or settling down, or getting a mortgage, or having babies and going hunting and buying a boat...and all the accoutrements of "normal" life. I can't enter into that world, nor do I wish to.
So I don't mind the blank stares and the questions and the raised eyebrows and the head-shaking, or even the doubts as to my sanity. Because I have the same response to "their" suburban, khaki-wearing, 8-5 aspirations. And turnabout is fair play. Your coworkers aren't being weird, they're being typical.
“I'm not at my best when I moralize or philosophize. Logic is elusive, especially to one who so rarely uses it.”
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