Soozi the Explwora
I graduated in 2003 and then moved to Japan to teach English. I don’t think I chose Japan for any special reason other than the job ad looked enticing and I felt the need to escape from the pressures and expectations of embarking on a new career. I say ‘new’ because I already had a few years of customer service and administration experience under my belt from when I was rebelling against the expectation on me to go to university like everyone else. I finally went to uni to escape from the traditional job in a typical office that had been the fruit of my rebellion, and now that my 3 years were up I had another decision to make. So I did what any self respecting rebel does and I fled the country.
Japan in September was hot, humid, and high energy. Parts of it were urban and ugly, and other parts breathtakingly beautiful. On my second day I bought myself a deep azure blue mountain bike emblazoned with the word EXPLWORA and spent the few days I had free, before starting work, explworing my new home – the small seaside city of Takaoka.
The job turned out to be every bit as restrictive and corporate as the kind I was trying to avoid in the UK. The main difference was that it was hotter, more humid, and I had no family around. I stuck it out for 3 weeks until I snapped and handed in my notice. I’d like to say this was out of character for me but at the ripe old age of 24, this was already the 8th resignation letter I’d written and not the first time I’d quit with no plan of what to do next.
I dutifully worked my notice period (which at a month meant I had to work for longer than I’d managed so far) then set off solo travelling around Japan for a month. Having never really travelled (holidays aside) before or since, I still remember that short month and the experiences in it as being hugely significant in forming my identity. Sadly, I had to sell my old friend Explwora before I left (if I’d shipped him back I wouldn’t have been able to afford my own airfare) and I arrived home a few weeks before Christmas jobless, penniless, and with no idea of what to do next.
Fast forward a number of years and I’ve lost count of how many resignation letters I’ve written, but let’s just say the career I had in my 20s and early 30s was varied, unconventional, and bogged down with my unfulfilled potential.
And yet, since becoming a mum to twin boys in 2010 I’ve tried to forge a different path. In doing so I’ve discovered plenty about myself, probably the most important of which was an archetypal personality test where I found out I’m an Explorer Revolutionary. My whole life I’ve found myself swimming upstream: trying to do everything differently or unconventionally. A lot of the time I just felt shitty for doing everything ‘wrong’. Now I know that’s who I am, I’ve embraced my aversion to traditional employment and I’ve looked for other ways to earn an income and have new experiences that satisfy my inner explwora. I’ve done consulting, copywriting, training, podcasting, blogging, coaching, trading, studying, writing, and probably more.
But really, I always come back to writing. In December 2016 my first book was published (and promptly won an award). Maternity Leavers: What to do about work now you’re a mum is a collection of advice and inspiration for women who want to change their career in some way after having children.
I’m currently planning my second non fiction book, writing my first fiction one, creating some workshops to support Maternity Leavers, and writing features for magazines. I also blog on the Huffington Post and write a weekly letter to my subscribers. If, like me, you consider yourself an Explwora, you might want to keep in touch by signing up to receive that letter.