The last week or so Ive had some life-changing decisions to make. Helena accepted a Masters place at a University in Dublin to study International Organizations (with the aim of eventually working for an NGO). Whether I should go too was a complete non-decision: theres no way I would ever let us fall apart over something so trivial. The reality, however, was far more complex.
Yes, I am going to Dublin, but not immediately. Helena will leave in August, but Ive come to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do is hang around a bit longer and leave in October. Firstly, having been promoted back in June, I committed myself to staying six months, and thats not the kind of thing I like to back down on. Secondly, the contract on my current house runs out in October and to pay it off and not live in it seems pretty ridiculous.
The most important thing, however, is the writing. Its been going so well here, and in leaving in the next few weeks Id be giving up a book deal, having the chance to establish myself at a major national magazine and potentially a host of reasonably big name interviews. All thats going to flesh out my writing CV no end. Its such a big thing to leave, but then I never intended to stay in Seoul forever, and leaving having achieved so much – and avoided any kind of stagnation in those achievements – will feel good. Clearly, October makes the most sense.
The real question, however, is what to do when I get to the other end. Given a blank slate, and the opportunity to do what you want with your life, the obvious solution (especially at the age of 24) seems to be follow your dreams. Its taken me until the last six moths to really realize for sure at least employment wise – what my dreams are. Right now I couldnt be more sure: I want to write professionally. Ive done so much over the past few months, and it just hasnt got dull. Its not going to be easy: the inevitable financial instability (something Ive always found more stressful than anything else) coupled with the need to self-motivate, worry about income tax laws and live in a relatively expensive city are all off-putting factors. There will always be reasons not to do something, though, and listing them will always feel like simply making excuses. Ive decided on what I think is the least stressful plan of action.
Writing jobs are relatively easy to come by once youve been published a bit. Good writing jobs are much harder to come by. Initially I plan to take anything that will add weight to my resume, regardless of whether its dull, or even vaguely related to my intended areas (travel/music, and maybe occasionally sport). On top of this I hope to pick up some part time work to provide a little more stability maybe 15-20 hours a week teaching English or doing something else relatively well paid and to earn enough to at least pay the rent each week. If I have to dig in to savings from Korea, so be it, but I dont want to totally decimate them.
Its a compromise, some would say a cop-out (maybe I should go fully pro, and given the opportunity I will, but not until I have enough work and income to justify it), but its the only way I feel secure enough to give it a go.
A couple of days ago I changed my flights home to October the 20th, informed my various (official and unofficial!) employers of my intentions and let it all sink in. As hard as the decisions were at the time, they feel like the right ones, and it really is a weight off my mind. The world of Guinness and the pressure cooker of freelance journalism await me. This feels like taking the plunge in a seriously big way, but as a particularly well-known band once said If you never try, youll never know. And I just have to know. Here goes!