I didn’t quit my job to travel the world. I made a job out of traveling and you can do it, too!
As we grow older, we always have a version of ourselves that we tell the world. It’s a little bit scripted because that’s how we sculptured the lives we want to showcase: perfect. It won’t hurt, as we always think. We are just changing a little detail about a certain life event or a part of who we are. It’s no big deal.
There are always stories we want to tell ourselves. We repeat it so often that it sounds true.
As a part of a yearly revamp, I was browsing my blog yesterday and found the post: Before I ditched my job to travel the world, I was her. Damn, I really was that girl. I was once obsessed with the thrill of looking pretty good and spending the money I didn’t have to things I couldn’t afford because that’s the job description. Back then, repeating outfits when working in fashion is a serious crime. I said “back then” because I am not sure about how the rules now.
I continued to browse the post and realised that these “jobs” I was in were internships. Not real jobs.
It slowly came to me that I have always been a freelancer. While I was doing my Internships and trying to like school (which never liked me back, btw. Not even once), I did a lot of fashion styling and magazine jobs but for whom? For myself. I was working for myself. I was never formally employed by anyone nor did I sign a contract.
I am not sure if this is something I missed in this lifetime. You know, not knowing how it really is to have an office job. I don’t even know how an office looks like. How are the employee cubicles arranged? Is the boss on another floor of the building? Are you supposed to do the time-in/out swipe with papers that look like Uno cards? What does one wear to work? Is it the same attire you wear when you’re doing your final thesis defense?
I would probably never know the answers to these questions because I don’t plan to do office jobs ever. This is by choice. Even if the society I exist in demands me to do life in chronological order, the idea of working for other people didn’t suit my soul. If I forced myself to do it, maybe I am already checked in some mental hospital and wouldn’t be writing this. I’d go nuts. Or end up dying at 30.
But the real question is, do you really have to quit your job to travel the world?
I left the environment that forced me to do the things I didn’t like
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Reader e-mails are the best part of my week. Whenever someone tells me they want to escape the cube they are in, I find it strange that they have to ask me what to do. When I say “the environment” that forced me to do what I didn’t like, I am not talking about the office or an employer. It was life in general. I was sick of it.
If I trace back how I did it, I just did it. There was no explanation. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong not until I left. I keep saying “just do it” because if you feel it in all veins of your body that you want to leave, it’s not rocket science. Choose a place, buy a ticket, board the plane, alight the plane, arrive the destination and that’s when you start figuring sh*&^t out.
You don’t need to plan anything yet because you are in a very difficult state. As long as you are still in an unhealthy surrounding, you can never plan things. You can never understand what you want to do until you free yourself from a toxic environment. Leaving is not easy let alone gathering the courage to book a ticket. But I’ve seen people who are reading this blog take the leap. Whenever I talk to them and ask how their trip is going, they always say the same thing: “leaving was the hardest part but as soon as I did, everything fell into place.”
Don’t look ahead. Look in front of you. What’s the first step? Or do you have to make traveling your job? How do you make it happen?
Freeing myself from financial dependency
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I have always been given all growing up and when I have a $25 USD balance in my account, I freak out. It’s not even zero yet but the $25 dollar mark is a sign that doomsday is coming. For a time, that way of life towards money controlled my life 98% of the time. Having that amount was not the end of the world. In fact, where I am from, it’s enough for at least 2-4 days of food but I still freaked out. Why?
Because I was on fast forward mode. I was thinking about the future. I thought about Monday every Tuesday. I was always 6 days ahead.
I found myself in very humbling circumstances when my parents weren’t around. I remember being in financial trouble once. I asked my parents for help and it didn’t work. “You chose that life. Nobody forced you to do that so learn to fend for yourself.”
My mother was always right. That woman will not relent even if I tell her that I am already sleeping on the streets. This taught me how to respond in difficult circumstances. I graduated from spending the money I don’t have to spending the money that I do have. It was a very abrupt change of lifestyle but to live by my means has always been challenging for me. Now, it has blossomed to the habit of spending on things that I can only afford. And what I need, above all.
Money, money, money. Yep, I didn’t say we don’t need it. Unfortunately, we can never transact anything on a daily basis without money. If you would know how penniless I went in South America but relentlessly survived 3.5 years of traveling the region, you will be surprised on how the human soul is capable of anything. It’s the greatest learning I discovered from that trip.
Writing as a concrete form of doing what you want
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I keep confusing home to a place but from Liz Gilbert, I learned that home is where you feel the love. There will always be something in this world that you will love more than yourself. For me, it is writing.
I did not have any formal education in Journalism. I studied Fashion for Christ’s sake. In the first part of this article, I said the first thing you need to do is to gather the guts to leave. You don’t have to plan. Writing came to me as an opportunity. Through traveling, I learned that I was good in telling stories. I always told myself I am great at it and that’s how I pushed through it.
I never wished for people to read my stuff but then they did. The stories I wrote were from the broth of my experiences, from my own truth. It never slipped my mind to think about fame. I just wanted to write and be treated like a writer. I wrote, wrote and wrote with no expectations.
Today, you are reading this and you are one of the reasons of the success of this blog. I have always been grateful for your support but never had the chance to ask: why are you spending time to read a blog of someone you don’t even know? I am just curious.
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If I really want to keep seeing the world, I told myself I should do serious business with this blog. I moved platforms, researched (a lot) and almost spent a whole year growing my social media and creating good content for the blog. The label “good” is based on my judgment. I found what I really wanted to write about: stories. Life happens as you read this, as your mind is playing tricks about what you are reading right now, as it is rapidly processing all the thoughts and slowly planning a timeline — life happens. It is meant to be shared because we are all unique individuals with unique lives. No one has the same life as I have, as you have. Every day, we see and experience different things. This is a good push in believing that you have a story to tell.
I remember I was still in Uruguay and Argentina when I started growing the blog. I skipped a lot of the mandatory tourist circuit, rented an apartment (at the time, I didn’t think I could ever afford it) and focused on the blog for almost a whole year. Technically, I was still traveling but just pausing. I needed to keep my eye on the prize.
Most days, there was a voice inside my head saying, “what if I fail?”
“Then fail,” I replied back. If there’s one thing that got me through, it’s the drive to keep creating. Writing was the only thing that kept me going. Writing for myself, above all.
Now read carefully because this is where the “I made traveling my job” will come in.
I didn’t have any paying job when I was building the blog. Imagine one whole year without enough money? I can. I even almost tried to get an online job but then I told myself I have to drop everything so all my energies and enthusiasm will be poured in creating content and growing contacts. When I wasn’t blogging full-time, I realised that when you don’t put 100% to it, it will never take off. Divided attention (with other jobs) will never help in achieving the ‘level of blogging’ I wanted to achieve.
After that year of sitting on the computer every day, almost 24/7 (believe me, it wasn’t easy), I was rewarded with press trip invites, advertisements, and recognition from every major publication in the world. I was on high. My work was paying off, finally.
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I used to sleep wherever, volunteer for free food and accommodations, etc. I still do this, by the way but I found a different light in volunteering. I’ll discuss that in other posts but I’d like to tell you about my journey of being a pauper to being The King.
I experienced business and first-class flights, luxury hotels, has been invited to speak, has conducted workshops and more than anything, has been treated with dignity as a writer. All of this entailed hard work. Loads of it.
Last week, I was on a business class flight from Qatar to Sri Lanka and when I landed Colombo, I had to take a tuktuk for 2 days to travel all the way to the Southeast. One of my friends said, “I think it’s not appropriate for your image to promote business class flights and then be on a rickshaw the next. It doesn’t fit.”
Some people are confused about the content of this blog but I don’t specialise in anything. I am not a backpacker, a luxury traveler, a solo female traveler (I’ve had travel dates. Shhhhh!) etc.
I WRITE ABOUT LIFE.
I talk about the change that is happening in my me, big, small or in whatever form. In relation to creating a job for yourself, this is what I want to do. If someone asks me about the category of this blog, I’d say life. And you can do it, too!
Remember that changing your life doesn’t mean you have to travel the world. It’s not the solution to all your problems. First, find what makes you happy and believe that it is important. Because it really is. The job description you want for yourself is up to you.
No job opportunities? Create it. You want a better traffic system? Create it. You want to find parking lots in an easier way? Create it. You have an idea in mind? Put it to life and create it. Never stop creating because it is the best way of making human life bearable!
Now I can say I never worked a day in my life because I finally found what I love doing. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time but whenever I find myself in very difficult situations, I ask myself thi question: “Am I willing to do what I need to do in order for this to work?”
The answer is all the time YES. 100% YES.
It really is true. Life is what you make of it.