January of Patricia Robichaud
I do not exactly fit the adventurous traveler profile. I’m 34 years old, I’ve been working full time since I was 22, including more than 8 years within the same company. When I chose to leave that corporate job because I needed change, I didn’t know where to go next, but I decided to trust the process and be optimistic.
I would find my way
I started out by looking for another job in communications; my field. Bigger job, bigger pay, more responsibilities. But at the same time, I didn’t want to deal with the long hours and the stress. That heavy pressure to perform all the time. I ended up being very selective in applying for jobs. I was only involved in a few processes that didn’t pan out. One day, I met another rebuke, but in the same breath, the employer offered me to do freelance work for them.
Why not? I was anxious about the irregular income… But again, I decided to trust the process and be optimistic. Maybe the full-time job of my dreams would come along and I could freelance in the meantime. One mandate led to another, which turned out to be more regular and longer term.
Money was coming in (almost) steadily
I started really enjoying the freedom of being a freelancer. Flexible hours, no traffic to get to work, less stress, no dress code… I started seeing more good sides to freelancing than I had seen good sides in the big corporate job. I discovered I liked my life to be different than that of my friends. I realized I was entitled to have my own set of values, to make my own path and that I could stop, for once and for all, trying to fit in where it clearly wasn’t right for me.
I started reflecting more on the life I had built and the possessions I had accumulated.
Stuff, so much useless stuff!
And what about my nice, big but quite expensive apartment? It dawned on me that I should leave it to find a smaller one, to make sure months with less income would have less financial impact. All of a sudden, the big life I had tried to build made sense no more.
But where to? I’d been living in Montreal for 10 years, yet it hadn’t quite become my home – I hadn’t been able to bring myself to buy a condo in Montreal (or anywhere else for that matter). So where to? Quebec City? Sherbrooke? Ottawa? Vancouver? Calgary? Another country? I started dreaming about working while traveling. I had been using every vacation I had over those 8 years to travel, but I wanted more… Like the one year backpacking in Australia I had done ten years ago, before the corporate job.
I wanted something like that, minus the youth hostel life.
One day, I received an offer to fill in for a one year maternal leave, which would entail moving to a small town, buying a car and making a complete life change. I was very enthused by the idea, it had been what I had been hoping for a few months! And the very next day, I received an email informing me that I was accepted on a crazy one-year program. I had applied to that program just like I fill out “win 2 weeks under the sun” contest ballots. I had applied thinking it was too good to be true, that it wouldn’t/couldn’t happen to me but… why not? A crazy dream. An ad seen on Facebook that I clicked on and went “Oh. My. God. I would love this, this is so me!” And I was accepted!
In the space of a weekend, I made my decision. I would leave everything I had known for 10 years and go on a crazy adventure: 12 cities in 12 months, traveling with 60 to 80 other digital nomads on a program called Remote Year.
The decision was exhilarating, yet nerve-wrecking to make. I decided I would sell everything (All. That. Stuff.), keeping only a few boxes of souvenirs here while I would travel with a backpack and suitcase. Yep. 34 and I would own almost nothing, spend one year traveling with no plans to build a family, buy a car or a house, like most people my age. Then again, most people my age have all that (or almost, or a variation of it). Talk about getting off the beaten path! But it felt so right for me.
I was surprised by the enthusiasm of my friends and ex-colleagues. Actually, I was buoyant because of their reaction. It was good to feel validated, to feel that my dream wasn’t so crazy after all and could be realized. (Thank you, dreamers and travel enthusiastic friends, thank you!) My family was a bit more moderate in enthusiasm in the beginning (because family will always worry more, I know!), but they all agreed it was:
“so very me” to travel and do things differently from everybody else
So, here I am, leaving soon for one year of travelling and living with complete strangers!
Departure date: March 4, 2017
Preparedness level: 50%
Stress level: roller coaster between 0 and 100%, depending on the time of day
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