Thursday, June 13, 2013

Winning the Best Job in the World Competition in Australia

I’m sure that in my lifetime, stranger things have happened.

I’ve hung out with cannibals and I’ve slept in squats. I’ve been a beauty pageant award winner, a medical lab rat and a construction worker. I’ve used as a satellite phone to call charter planes in the jungles of Guyana and I’ve sipped pinot noir selected from an ambassador’s wine cellar in Switzerland. Yes, stranger things have happened.

And yet, this—this of all things—feels very surreal. It all just happened so quickly. As I write this, I’m hurtling through the sky on a plane destined for Adelaide, Australia. Admittedly, this wouldn’t be particularly absurd if it wasn’t for the fact that I boarded my plane at 3:00 PM today, having only received my confirmed itinerary and airline tickets at 2:30 AM this morning. (I’m a planner, an organizer. Leaving the country with less than 24 hours notice goes against the very grain of my existence. And yet, here I am.) And it’s Australia—not exactly the type of place that you make a last-minute one-week-only kind of excursion to.

So how did I get to be here?

It all started two weeks ago at TBEX. After a full schedule of Saturday “speed date” style meetings at the international travel blogging conference, my throat was sore from talking for two hours straight. But it wasn’t until I tried to order a latte on Sunday morning that I discovered that my voice had been reduced to nothing more than a harsh raspy whisper, at best.

At the TBEX Opening Night Party with Jerry from
“Stay home,” my friends encouraged me, “rest up.” Admittedly, I knew that my ability to network with laryngitis would be limited. But I’m stubborn and there was work to be done. (As a traditional print journalist at a conference of bloggers, I was the underdog. It turns out that knowing how to use a semi-colon correctly means shit when you only have 275 Twitter followers and a Blackberry that is scotch-taped together.) So despite my exhaustion, I packed a stack of Verge magazines and portfolio in my bag, and off I went.

It was worth it. Even without a voice, I somehow (mainly through a series of charades and enthusiastic smiling) was able to convey to the South Australian Tourism representative not only my love of travel—but my love of travel with purpose. (That, and my love of visiting wineries. More on that to come.) 

So here I am. After a whirlwind week of getting an editorial assignment letter, filling out paperwork, and trying very, very hard not to get excited about something that wasn’t set in stone (this isn’t the first press trip I’ve applied to go on), I’m finally on my way, courtesy of Tourism Australia.

I’m going to be spending the next 10 days in South Australia reporting on the Best Jobs in the World competition for Verge. (Weird, too, because I’m pretty sure that I just might already have the world’s best job.) It’s hard for me to grasp that the long hours spent staring at my computer screen and agonizing over word choice are finally paying off in a way that I felt like they never might.

Last night, while I anxiously waited to receive my flight confirmation, I went for drinks with a man 10 years my senior.

“What would you like to do in the future?” my date asked. “Do you want to work at a publication full-time?”

“I really don’t know. This might sound awful, but despite being an incredibly career-focused individual, I actually don’t have any career goals,” I confessed. “I’m a hard worker. But I’m not interested in climbing any rungs or adding things to my resume. Really, my only real goal is to be happy—and right now, doing this, I’m happy. That’s all that matters to me.”

This trip to Australia isn’t getting me any closer to my goal of visiting 30 countries before I turn 30, but it is reminding me of why I do what I do. It’s reminding me of why I work until all the words are literally gone from my own lips. And it’s reminding me, yet again, that every day of my life, I am blessed.

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