I often come across the articles about life changes consisting in quitting a regular job and moving to an exotic location like Bali or Sri-Lanka. It’s an important issue and one of the most difficult things to do. It’s about leaving the zone of comfort and accepting insecurity, challenging yourself and discovering the world.
With Instagram and personal blogs boom downshifting becomes more and more popular or at least I have this impression because of my active digital life. I check hundreds of Instagram travel accounts and different blogs every day, getting inspired for my new trips, and it seems to me that most of people dream to become digital nomads or professional travelers leaving the stressful city life behind… So I decided to share with you my thoughts and feelings about this tendency.
To start with, I regularly question myself about things I’d love to do in my life and how I see my future in one-two-five years (for a longer period my fantasy doesn’t work:-) We also frequently discuss these topics with Julien. For an artist’s daughter as I am it’s natural to look for creativity in everyday life and it’s not always easy with the routine of a “serious” work (I’m a lawyer and have been working as a lawyer all my life). Sometimes I wonder if I should consider changing my life and, for example, going to travel for one year or try to start my own business. Julien is always very attentive to my thoughts on this subject, especially since he’s also a talented and open-minded person always ready to start a new adventure.
Before disclosing the reasons for my actual life choice, I’d love to tell you one story which played an important role in forming my opinion.
A few years ago, before I met Julien, I was annoyed by my job in a small family office in Paris and looked for change. In my research I came across a job offer of a law firm located on Seychelles. I never visited these islands before but of course I heard a lot about this tropical paradise, one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. The work proposed in the offer was interesting and very well paid. No doubts, I sent an application….
After two months of skype interviews, writing tests and questionnaires I got a confirmation that my candidature has been accepted. It was time to prepare the document to get work permission and I felt really excited! It was the beginning of the new life, new story, new me may be… Anyway at the last moment I decided to be reasonable and visit Seychelles. Moving to a new place without visiting it at least one time was too crazy even for me. So I packed my luggage and bought a ticket to Victoria, the capital of Seychelles.
I won’t describe here my ten days staying on the islands. It was amazing: gorgeous nature, blue ocean, exotic flowers and fantastic sunsets… But when I tried to imagine my life there – day after day, month after month and – who knows? – year after year, I felt totally frustrated. The company office was in the center of the capital, but the capital itself is a little town. Its inhabitants speak Creole and the main attraction of Victoria is the local market. I doubted I could organize my social life there – most probably it would be limited by a narrow circle of expats in which everyboby knows everyone and gossips are unavoidable.
Despite the warm welcoming of my potential employer, it was evident that I wasn’t ready to change my Parisian life to life on the island. I love yoga, surf, sports, photography and all kinds of outside activities but I’m not ready to dedicate my time only to them. In France I appreciate a permanent connection with history, culture, European civilization, even if I’m not always conscious of this.
I chose to stay in Paris and declined the job offer.
What I learned from this experience? Be careful what you wish for – the day when your wishes come true you can find yourself disappointed. Be honest with yourself and find out what REALLY makes you happy. Don’t follow the others’ ways only because they seem cool or voguish. Concentrate on your self-development which doesn’t depend only on traveling. If you want to create or learn something new, you don’t NECESSARILY need to go to another end of the world to find balance and inspiration.
I was fascinated by the idea of downshifting and life gave me a chance to try it – I had only to accept the job offer. But the main thing is that it wasn’t necessarily a chance TO DO but a chance TO UNDERSTAND some important things about myself. Since that moment I’m very careful about the idea of going to live on the paradise island / in a mysterious Asian country / in a plane between different destinations. It seems very attractive in theory but when I remember my landing on Seychelles, I start being very realistic. For the moment, downshifting is not my cup of tea. It doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind in the future but right now it’s truth.
Of course there are actually other reasons why I feel myself particularly attached to Paris despite my passion for traveling: together with my sweetheart we’ve just bought a flat and enjoy making it cozy and beautiful. The interior design is a fruit of our imagination and taste, and we love every detail of it. Just staying together in our new home feels meaningful, even if we don’t do anything special – for me it’s the main sign that I’m in the right place, with the right person and living in the right way. This harmony is so hard to find that I strongly appreciate every moment while it lasts.
My job is the famous hated-by-everyone office work with lots of analysis, paper routine and discipline. I don’t overestimate its creative component but when it comes to the new projects and negotiation, lawyer’s job becomes quite exciting. And for sure work environment matters: I’m lucky to be a part of a great team, small enough to remain informal but professional and well-organized. To sum up, I don’t feel stressed and tired all the time, lake many of office workers, even if my working hours are often long.
With Internet and all kinds of transport the World became so small and choices are so numerous. I know that if one day we want to leave everything behind and move to another country or start traveling full-time, we will be able to organize it (I can’t imagine doing it alone though, since with Julien we are very attached to each other). But I also think it’s important to know how to stop, to have a deep breath and feel gratefulness for what you have. Isn’t it the true key of happiness?