A month ago my entire life changed: I quit my job, sold everything I owned (my life has been pared down to 1 suitcase and a backpack) and moved 9,000 miles away to join Remote Year, a program where I’d spend 12 months traveling the world living in 12 countries across SE Asia, Europe and South America with 75 strangers. To say I don’t feel like myself (or even recognize myself) is an understatement. Usually when people make the “big leap” we see the Instagram pictures and videos showing that they’re having the time of their life. While this is by far the most amazing thing I’ve ever done it’s also the scariest and quite frankly the hardest. Here are 3 things I’d wish I’d known before making the leap myself:
I’ve always been an independent explorer:
I’ve been working since I was 14 years old and for the last 20 years someone else has called the shots. It’s one thing to have a side hustle. It’s another to be your own boss for real. Quitting my job and launching my company full time was one of the most liberating experiences of my life but almost immediately after arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia it hit me - if I don’t work I don’t eat. There are no more vacation days or sick days and no one else is going to help me make this work. I have a few months of savings and have “burned the boats” so this new venture has to work. Because of that I’m working crazy hours and cannot turn my brain off. I’m saying yet to too many things and am dropping way too many balls. Even my idea of what it means to be productive has changed - I have expected myself to be on 24/7 and my self care routine has been shot to shit. This is also the third version of this post I’ve written out of fear that it wouldn’t be good enough.
It can be lonely:
Despite traveling with 75 people I’ve never felt so lonely. Many of them still have jobs that allowed them to work remotely and have the financial security that comes with a paycheck. That means some folks can take weekend trips to tropical beaches, party all week and work whenever they feel like it. As an entrepreneur that’s out of the question for me. There are a handful of folks on this trip who are in similar situations but at the end of the day I’m alone on this journey. I have no idea what their financial situations are or what their support systems look like. The majority of my family lives in poverty in Detroit so there’s no one to fall back on except me.
There’s no roadmap:
Before making the decision to chase my dream I read every book and listened to every podcast about entrepreneurship I could. I devoured anything I could get my hands on in search of a roadmap for what it would look like to build my dream. I don’t care how many books you read or people you talk to there is no such thing as a shortcut. What worked for someone else might not work for you and every single one of us will have a different journey. The biggest aha moment I’ve had recently was simply to trust my instincts. My intuition has never steered me wrong and if ever there was a time to trust it it’s now.
I am so proud of myself for believing in my dreams enough to be willing to bet everything on it. I wouldn’t change this experience for the world and would encourage any woman who is thinking about making the leap to absolutely do it. At the same time, don’t be fooled by what you see on Instagram. There’s been quite a few dark days where I’ve struggled to figure out what to do next. But if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that as long as I follow my heart I can’t go wrong.
Rebecca is an entrepreneur + digital nomad spending 12 months living in 12 countries across SE Asia, Europe and South America. She writes about her journey at www.rebeccamthompson.com.