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 finding 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 to go to university like everyone else. I did finally go to uni – when I needed to escape from the traditional job in a typical office that had been the fruit of my rebellion. Now that my 3 years of being a student 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, exploring 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 was on the opposite side of the world to everyone I knew. 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 when I say varied and unconventional, I don’t mean the jobs themselves (which were anything but) but my tendency to hop from one job to another and the way I saw 3 years in one place as long service.
And yet, since becoming a mum to twin boys in 2010 I’ve tried to forge a different path via self employment. In doing so I’ve discovered plenty about myself, probably the most important of which was discovering I’m an Explorer Revolutionary in this archetypal personality test. 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 live a life that satisfies my inner ‘explwora’. For me, exploring is about trying new things and new experiences. I’ve not been able to travel the world (yet) for whatever practical reason but I’m always open to new adventures, whatever form they take. In the last few years I’ve done consulting, copywriting, training, podcasting, blogging, coaching, storytelling, trading, studying, writing, and probably more.
But 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’ve been a Huffington Post blogger for a few years where I write mainly about parenting and careers (although there are a few random posts on there about EU VAT and voting too).
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 recently deleted all my previous websites and blogs (unsurprisingly I’d started quite a few over the past 10 years or so) and am restarting on here with a blog called Exploring Life. I’m not sure what I’m going to write about yet but if, like me, you consider yourself an explwora, you can find out how it evolves by signing up to receive Exploring Life posts by email.