How To Design Your Own Life of Adventure
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad
This is a guest post by Jasmine Stephenson of An Apple a Day.
My name is Jasmine. I graduated from the University of South Florida at the age of 21 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. While going to school full time, I participated in extracurricular activities and worked full time at a law firm. After receiving my diploma, I moved to Arizona. I found a great job at another law firm. I had my own apartment, and a dog. Sounds pretty normal, right?
On the surface, this is the introduction to a normal American life. It wouldn't be too long before I fulfilled the American dream by getting married, buying a house, and climbing up the corporate ladder. But I felt miserable. I felt restless, discontent, and uneasy. Though my job paid well, it was not stimulating. I sought relief in weekend activities like volunteering and self-help workshops, but it didn't do the trick.
“On one fateful Saturday morning, I went to a Super Walmart in Mesa, Arizona, and it changed my life.”
The store was jam-packed with families pushing shopping carts full of screaming kids, picking out a new shade of green to paint their bathroom walls. All of a sudden, I had an epiphany. Witnessing the scene unfold, I asked myself if this was the life I wanted. Do I want to fulfill society's notion of success, living in a big house, driving a fancy car, having a high-powered career, waiting to meet a man to marry and have children with? No – it wasn't.
It dawned on me that I didn't want to live a life chosen by default, a life that society had designed for me.
So I started to dream. I dreamed about what I really wanted to do with my life.
One thing I realized about myself is that I love to learn. I love knowing things. However, I didn't feel like going back to school for an advanced degree would satisfy my appetite. I wanted to see the world and learn about different cultures and their history straight from the source.
Then I started to dream even bigger. What if I went on a permanent vacation?
What if, instead of visiting another country, I actually lived there? Or even wilder, what if I found a way to maintain a perpetual state of travel with no home base?
I spent literally hundreds of hours researching my options. Could I volunteer in Asia for a year? I really didn't have enough in my savings account to support myself. Maybe I could backpack through Europe, hoping to find under-the-table jobs? The illegal route was a bit of stretch and too much of a risk for me.
My ultimate decision was to do a working holiday in New Zealand. I made the decision because it’s an English-speaking country, it's far, and I thought it would be a good introduction to traveling so I could be sure that this type of life would suit me.
After two back-to-back working holidays in New Zealand and Australia with a side trip to Italy and a 3-month jaunt around Southeast Asia, I went back home to Florida. I had been on the road on and off for about two years. I imagined myself finding a job, meeting up with old friends, and reintegrating into society for awhile until my next trip.
However, I felt like a fish out of water. The desire to travel burned stronger than ever. I realized that I had to figure out a way to obtain a flexible job in which I could work from anywhere in the world. This entailed another 100 hours of research and quite a few false starts. Finally, I was able to develop skills I had already learned at previous jobs and apply them to a few new, location-independent gigs. I have now been working on the road for the past six months, loving every minute of it.
So why am I telling you this?
I wanted to tell you about my life and my experience to demonstrate that living the life of your wildest dreams is realistic. In fact, not only is it attainable, but there is absolutely NO REASON to avoid pursuing your ideal life. If you think I was able to make big changes because of my age, please don't give yourself an excuse. There are plenty of people with a few years on me doing the exact same thing. I'm sure you've heard of the bestseller and movie Eat, Pray, Love?
So now you're wondering how you can turn this ambition into reality. What types of jobs are available overseas?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Teach English – English teachers are in huge demand in several countries, including South Korea, Japan, China, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. Education and experience requirements, salary, and contract length vary by country, but many pay well and accept those with a bachelor's degree in any field.
- Skilled Immigrant Visa – These types of visas are available in several countries. If you have a skill that the country is lacking, you can look into applying for a skilled immigrant visa.
- Freelance – I currently enjoy a flexible freelance lifestyle. That means I negotiate with various employers to do different jobs and get paid accordingly. There are several websites that cater to this type of work, and jobs available include everything from office assistance, transcription, and editing to search engine optimization and translation.
- Computer Guru – Pretty much every computer or internet-related job can be done outside of an office. Web designers, graphic designers, internet marketing specialists, software development—you name it.
- Sales/Customer Service – More and more companies are looking to reduce the amount spent on labor. Outsourcing customer service within the US means they don't have to pay for a call center or health insurance, but they still get the benefit of having domestic employees.
- Nanny – This is a great job for those who love children and want to experience living with a local family in their new destination. Many families in European countries look for English-speaking nannies to teach their kids the language and care for them at the same time. The perks? Free lodging, food, and vacations with the family to yet another exotic destination!
Before you get yourself too worked up, let me smash some of your excuses.
Myth #1: Traveling is too expensive.
The truth is, I make about one-fourth of what I used to living in Arizona working at a law firm. I need a lot less money to travel in developing countries than I do living in the US.
Myth #2: But what about my bills and my stuff?
Please don't let a contract with a large corporation prevent you from your ideal lifestyle. This is a horrible excuse. You can put your stuff in storage and rent your house to not only pay the bills but earn a bit of income as well. You don't need much stuff on the road, and when you get home, you'd be amazed at how little you really need to get by.
Myth #3: But I have kids and a husband/wife!
If this is a dream that your entire family shares, even better! The kids can be home-schooled on the road, and your spouse can look into a location-independent or overseas job as well. Imagine how much you will grow as a family and how well rounded your children will be after some time learning about different cultures abroad.
Even if traveling is not your dream, what you can take away from this post is that any type of life you want is yours for the designing. Live is too short to settle for less.
Jasmine is a 20-something female who loves traveling around the world solo, meeting people, learning about different cultures, and trying the local vegetarian food. Her adventures can be read at Jasmine Wanders Travel Blog. She is also a regular contributor and specialist on nursing schools for Guide to Healthcare Schools.