My name is Mel Elderfield, and I am working my way around the world.
What’s my story?
When I meet people and they ask me what I do, I tell them, quite honestly, that I travel.
It’s not always a popular answer.
The world we live in seems keen to define individuals by their occupation, putting them in a nice little box all labelled up with their exaggerated job title. ‘No but, like, for a living, what do you do?’
But this is my living. I work an array of season jobs around the world, and I write. I am by no means wealthy, but I make enough to sustain my travels and live comfortably.
What’s most important is that I am following my passions and making a career out of what I love, and you could too!
In 2011, I set off for a summer season in Croatia, and never looked back
In 2011, I graduated from Bournemouth University with an Advertising and Marketing degree, and decided to work a summer season in Croatia, as a bit of a break before a ‘proper job’ .
At least, it was always intended as a break- obviously I was supposed to flock to Clapham with all the other hordes of skint graduates, and spend my glory years with someone’s armpit in my face on the tube.
But something very disruptive happened: I feel in love with my new found freedom, and I was intoxicated by hedonism after an entire life in education.
A summer season in Croatia somehow turned into backpacking around Europe, which turned into a ski season, which turned into a yacht job. And just like that, a year had passed.
Then I worked a festival season, I fell in love with a snowboarder, we worked another ski season, we drove across America, we travelled some more of Europe, I came to Australia… and that’s a story in itself.
If you wanna go, just go
As the months turned to years and I was still on the road, I realised something very important.
The question ‘what do I want to do with my life?’ was irrelevant. Because, clearly, I was already doing it.
And I was doing well at it too.
Season work wages kept me sufficiently afloat that I could afford not to work for months at a time, and instead just see the world.
The contacts I was making were incredible, I had friends all over the globe, and my resume was bursting at the seams with all kinds of interesting jobs and rich transferable skills.
So I stopped making excuses, and I stopped pretending I was going to come home. (These days I see ‘home’ as a completely fluid concept; it is wherever I chose to make it).
Not all who wander are lost
But I wasn’t always so devil-may-care. I actually wasted much time fretting about what I wanted to do with my life. I tarnished some of my earlier travels with guilt and embarrassment that I didn’t have a ‘proper job’ as society seems to demand. I often squirmed at the all-too-obvious, yet usually unspoken, question on the lips of all my nearest and dearest… when would I quit messing about and join the real world? Surely I must be stupid, or unable to hold down a job, or just living in cuckoo land?
In the end, I made a conscious decision to just do it all anyway, because it is what I love.
I decided to live a bit recklessly, and the last three years of my life, spent travelling and working abroad, have been absolutely incredible. I will never look back at my twenties and see ‘what ifs?’. I will look back at my twenties and I will see that I LIVED, that I wanted to see the world, and so, I made it happen. It is utterly life affirming.
My world view changed, and I no longer believe that any of us needs one career path.
We are versatile, and the world is a big, very accessible place, full of a myriad of diverse opportunities if you are brave enough to make them for yourself.
My priorities changed too, and I came to value the experiential instead of the material, the journey instead of the destination, personal fulfilment instead of career-derived status, and, most importantly, I kept challenging myself with that age-old question… if you died tomorrow, would you feel you had REALLY lived?
We get one shot at life, and at the end of it all the only thing that will matter is the story we leave behind. It’s not going to be a very good story if you spend the majority of it too scared to chase your dreams.
So if you wanna live, just live. It is your life, and you can do exactly what you please with it.
Be brave, and write your own story. Fill it to bursting with vibrant characters, passionate plot twists, spontaneous excitement, reckless abandon and numerous memorable scenes. This is my aim, to live a good story.
So this is me, and this is my story. This is how I live my life now.
Join me for the adventure, and I hope I can inspire you to really get out there and make stuff happen for yourself.