I graduated from university in April 2014, wide-eyed and excited to be out in the real world. Rewind a few months prior and I had decided to give myself a trip to Colombia for 2 weeks after I graduate. I love to travel, have never been to Latin America and had a friend down there willing to let me crash at her place. It all made perfect sense.
Around the first week of May, I was all ready to leave for Colombia. I was approached on LinkedIn and ended up being offered an amazing job at a local company. This job was not only full-time and in my field, but also included stock options and an amazing health care plan.
The person I was speaking to was kind enough to give me time to travel before deciding on whether or not to take him up on the offer, politely declining my interest in working remotely for awhile.
I knew I had the travel bug and wasn't sold on having to stay in the same city I had already been in for 4 years. I took off to Colombia, cancelled my return ticket to Canada and didn't think twice about the job.
I ended up in Colombia for two months rather than two weeks. I fell in love with the country. The beautiful landscape and mountains, the most hospitable people in the world, the delicious and never ending food. (Seriously -- Colombian food is the best.)
I returned to Canada in July for the sole purpose of wrapping up my life there, talking to a few of my freelance clients, seeing family and then making the move back to Colombia.
While in Canada for two and a half months, I was referred to another company by a friend and ended up with another job offer. Another great opportunity, in my field, with a small team and lots of room for growth. Despite having already been in Colombia for two months, the travel bug bit me hard and I still couldn't see myself in the same city. Another polite decline at the idea of remote work from the company and another job turned down on my end.
Now, I am living in Bogota working freelance, learning Spanish (my fourth language) and exploring an amazing country. I couldn't be happier with the choice I made and when I look back, there are several reasons I made it.
1. The Change Factor
The jobs I was offered were in a city I had lived in for 4 years for University and was eager to get out of. Nothing wrong with it -- I genuinely love the city, but I knew if I woke up every morning and looked at myself in the mirror knowing I hadn't left when I had the chance, I wouldn't feel good about myself.
Chances to leave a city aren't as easy as they sound, I was at a rare point where I had no work requirements to stay there (unless I took the job) and no significant others in the town. Once you start seeing someone, or have a job (no matter if you don't like it) it becomes harder to leave. Excuses come up, inner dialogue takes over. I knew this was a special opportunity to leave and I took it.
The change factor was big, I wanted change and I wanted it now.
2. The World Is the Best Teacher
I know from living in Germany at age 16 and spending time in Norway the year after, that solo travel and world exploration are some of the best ways to learn life lessons. Though I learned a lot in my four years at university, I knew that there was so much more I wanted to learn and experience and the only way for me to do it, was to go out there and live it.
3. The Growth Factor
Every time I explored a new city, I traveled to a new country, started learning a new language, I felt like I grew a thousand times on the inside. I want to keep feeling that level of personal growth for my whole life. Right now, travel and exploration are feeding that growth. I made the decision to go with the wind and see where the adventure in Colombia would take me.
4. I Looked At My Goals
I did a lot of exercises for figuring out your passion and writing down your goals, I have to say the Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte pushed me a long way! When I really looked at my life, I knew that I didn't want to be in Canada right now, or necessarily pinned down to one job. I had the opportunity and the resources to travel and freelance, so I made the jump away from security and towards liberation. It felt like insanity, now I realize it was me creating the life I want to live.
Looking at what I wanted in the next few years, exploration and adventure were top on the list, so I listened to my heart and went for the less safe option in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language. All I knew is that I didn't want the life that those jobs presented to me. I wanted a life I was creating all on my own.
I decided to go and take what I want from the world, rather than take what the world was throwing at me.
If anything, turning down those jobs doesn't make me feel like I'm missing out on opportunities. In my opinion, traveling and freelancing are only opening up more professional opportunities for me, rather than closing doors.
I can't say that the freelancing lifestyle will always be for me. My goals and aspirations will always change, but I know the lifestyle full of travel and wonder will forever be a priority for me.