I mentioned big changes in my previous post. I will elaborate here.
I first visited NYC in 2002, and knew within a day of visiting that I wanted to move there. I wanted to move there immediately, except for the fact that I still had to finish school and earn my degree. I did all of that, stayed an extra year in San Diego to save up, and then moved to NYC early in 2005.
Only a year later (even though I plotted hard to come to NYC), I began looking into the JET program to teach abroad in Japan. I had always wanted to live abroad, and never got to do that during college. With the low barrier of entry and guaranteed job placement, it seemed like the perfect situation. The program also assisted with housing, and you had plenty of opportunity to explore around the nation and neighboring regions.
During this same time, I had also landed an interview for a photo editing job at global entertainment / media company, and made it through three rounds. I told myself: if I get the job, I will stay. If I don’t, I will apply to the JET program. I eventually got an offer and took the job. It seemed the smarter and safer path.
Throughout the next 11 years, I learned a lot. The pace and volume were enough to feel I could handle anything after that. I had some frustrations and knew this job wasn’t forever – my desire to travel more extensively was too strong. The little bit of travel I was able to do only left me wanting upon return. As years passed and more vacation days accrued, I still felt caged in. I knew that Corporate America was not for me.
I kept visiting new places when I could, though it was never enough – even a 2 week stay felt like all I got was a taste of that city. In the USA, you find yourself feeling guilty for taking two weeks off even if you are entitled to it. I had learned about and met digital nomads, and kept finding myself envious of their lives. I wondered, how do I even go about this change?
About a year and a half ago, I visited Berlin. It was high on my list for years. A friend of mine had recently moved there from the USA ,and loved her life there. I was so excited to visit and also see her. When I arrived, the same thing happened as my NYC visit in 2002 – I knew I could live there. Plus, I would have better access to travel around. The question came up again – how could I make it happen? I was now in my 30s, and built up quite a bit of work experience as well as a strong network of people. The idea seemed very daunting; moving to NYC from CA was easy in that I was young and staying within my own country.
Fast forward to 2017, in which I got laid off just as summer was starting. It was actually a huge relief as my job reached levels of stress I never wish to experience again. I’m using this opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since high school. I have earned a certification to teach English abroad, and am hustling my photo skills I learned to wrangle some (remote) freelance work as well. Not only am I moving forward with relocating to Berlin by the end of the year, but I will be going on my first longer trip in November – one month in Croatia!
It is still quite daunting; while I waiver between being ever-so-excited and totally terrified, I believe this was meant to be. It’s the first time in my life I am not taking the “safe path” as I not only do not have employment lined up (due to visa rules), but I am not even guaranteed that I will be granted a visa for an extended stay. At worst, I figure I will have at least 4 months of adventures and have some more answers with what I want to be when I grow up in that time frame. All I know is, after nearly 20 years dreaming of this…it’s about damn time.