It started in February.
I said yes for the first time in about a year to getting on a plane and going somewhere new.
That place was Colorado and the trip would change everything.
After landing and experiencing four days of epic hikes, Rocky Mountain views and National parks I had to get more.
In less than two weeks I was off to Chicago to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Then came a spur of the moment trip to Alabama, followed by a flight down to Miami and then a music festival in Memphis, Tennessee.
Four months of traveling around the USA and it had all stemmed from one word.
Of course the sites inspired me to continue my travels but something else was awakened in me during those four days.
I opened my eyes to the reality of saying yes.
Without knowing it, I had habitually started saying no to travel and anything I knew was going to cost me.
I thought it was irresponsible of me to take trips when I was still a waitress and living paycheck by paycheck.
In hindsight, I see my mistake.
By thinking that I couldn’t go on these trips I decided subconsciously that I shouldn’t ever be going on them. When travel opportunities came my way, I automatically said no.
The Colorado trip opened my eyes to all of the trips that I had missed out on and the possibility for my future.
I realized that in fact, I could travel around for pretty cheaply. Once I started looking to travel outside of the USA, it was game on. I knew I could travel for even less and be able to go long term instead of taking week or weekend trips to new places.
That one yes led to a domino effect of travel opportunities that have led me to be able to write this from Croatia.
In the past five months I have backpacked through Central America and then spent my fall exploring the streets of Europe.
Our habit is to say no to things that could cost us but what we are really doing is saying no to the experiences that are going to shape us and our lives.
Because I got on that plane to Colorado, I inevitably ended up getting on a plane by myself to Costa Rica.
In five months I have grown into a new person, somebody who is ten fold more confident in her abilities to create the life that she has always wanted.
That would have never happened if I had kept waitressing back in Nashville, thinking that someday I would finally take action on the dreams that were calling me.
Break the habit and say yes next time. This yes is like opening a door, stepping into what you feel has been calling to you all along.
Look at it as a domino effect-tap one and the rest will come down with it.
Say yes and go all in.
I knew I was in trouble when I saw the look in his eye. I could foresee the future, right then and there. I knew he would want more from me than I would be able to give him right now.
Immediately I felt guilty.
Had I led him on to believe that we could have become anything official? A few days into knowing him I had told him that I wasn’t interested in anything serious, should I have pushed it more?
As a full time traveler and driven career woman, a relationship is not in the books for me right now.
My sights are set on my goals of traveling the world and building an empire, not on falling in love.
For a few days, I felt like I was in the wrong.
Should I slow down on my goals and open up the time for somebody?
The thought sounded just as ridiculous in my head as it does written down.
Here is the thing: you don’t have to feel guilty about being selfish.
In fact, it’s quite empowering. To say that at 25 years old, my sole focus is on my own aspirations is a beautiful thing.
I’m proud to have grown into this woman, the one that is savvy, business minded and ready to build her own empire.
As the guilt crept in and I felt obligated to give this man the slice of me that he wanted, I realized that the obligation I felt wasn’t being put on me by him but by me.
I was the one who felt guilty about being selfish and telling him that this was not the time for a relationship. I’ve been in his shoes before and I survived. If anything being told no pivoted me into the best possible direction for my life.
With my eyes on the prize, I know that there is only one obligation in life and that is to make the most of it as is your definition.
My definition of going all in on this one life that has been granted to me is to aspire for the career that entices me, the lifestyle that I have been envious of for years and to prove to myself just how much I am capable of.
If this means that I have to take a few years off of dating, I am okay with it. And so, others will have to be too.
At the end of the day, it’s me. I can’t fill anybody else’s cup unless mine is already full. As I “selfishly” fill my cup today I know that I will one day be able to fill somebody else’s-when the time is right.
It looked as if they had taken a run down school bus, added a bar above the middle row for people to hold on to and cleared out the two back seats as a luggage compartment.
Down the aisles came families, other backpackers and oddly enough at least ten people selling phone cases, hair clips, some type of liquid in a bag and assorted pastries.
A heavy set woman holding a ziploc bag full of a green, milky liquid looked at me and said, “Te quieres?!”.
Shaking my head I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
What in the world was happening in my life right now?
As beads of sweat ran down my face the bus started to fill up more. Within a few minutes there were three of us sitting in a place meant for two and the entire aisle was filled with people. The engine roared and we were off.
I was dirty, sweaty, hadn’t worn make up or touched an appliance to my hair in a month and life was damn good.
Making the decision to travel solo in my twenties was never a choice I intended to make. I always assumed I would travel with my friends and take short week long vacations to different destinations around the world.
Six months ago I realized that quick trips were not going to be an efficient form of travel for me. I wanted to see a lot and to do it as young as possible.
After making the decision, I finished up my lease, bought a backpack and headed out into the unknown.
I spent my summer swimming in the Caribbean ocean in Central America and the fall backpacking Europe.
The number one reason you need to travel solo in your twenties is to become aware of your potential.
I had no idea that I would be able to figure out public transport systems in different languages, that I was capable of making friends all around the world and that I would be able to make any travel dream I had come true.
I didn’t know that I could really pull off the digital nomad lifestyle, working online while seeing some of the most beautiful sites in the world.
I am the most grateful for having figured out the potential that is within me at 25 years old, instead of waiting for an epiphany twenty years down the line.
Knowing how much potential is reserved within me tells me one thing, I have no excuse.
There is never any reason not to go for your largest dream because there is a one hundred percent chance that you can attain it.
Covered in other people’s sweat, breathing in the hot muggy air of a school bus filled with eighty people and looking out the dirty windows I realized that I had just freed myself of all of the limitations that a normal life had accidentally put on me.
Traveling solo enlightens you. It shows you that you can pull off anything you put your mind to. That in fact, there is so much potential in you that you could reach for the stars and you still would have room for growth.
By coming face to face with the potential that I have, I no longer have a fear of going for the lifestyle of my dreams. Just as I know where I want to travel to and then I get myself there and around to all the sites and excursions that I want to-I can go for my goals. I know what my goals are and I know that I can get myself to them and then some.
Book that one way and get on the next level of life, the level where fear dissipates and all your left with is overwhelming, beautiful confidence.
I took a deep breath in, grabbed the sweater and put it in the trash bag.
One down, forty to go.
Looking through my closet, filled to the brim of clothes threaded with memories I started to feel okay with the change.
Two years ago life had asked me to make a massive lifestyle change by moving 1,000 miles away from home. It turned out to be the best decision of my life.
This time would be no different. As I set out on my journey of backpacking the world, the number one task at hand was to get rid of everything that didn’t fit in my 80 liter backpacker.
If you are looking to start a minimalistic lifestyle in order to evoke change and new energy into your day to day, the first step is to separate experiences from the material items.
I’m not here to tell you that you should throw out the music box that you’re grandfather gave you. There are some material items that should be kept forever.
I am here to say that those old sweaters from high school need to leave your life so that new ones can come in.
The trick to starting a minimalistic lifestyle is to feel okay with saying good bye to material items that you are placing emotional ties to. When you realize that throwing out those old clothes doesn’t have anything to do with disregarding the old memories, you’re liberated.
Those experiences get to stay with you while all of that new room allows for upgraded material items and memories to come back to you.
It takes two hands-one with a garbage bag and another willing to do the dirty work-to start a minimalistic lifestyle.
Take a deep breath and decide to open the spaces of your life up in order to create the necessary room for new experiences and positive energy to come in.
“I like so many different things, I wouldn’t know which one I would want to pursue as a career.”
Sitting back, I looked at my friend and remembered having those same emotions.
One year ago I didn’t know what I wanted to do with life. I was 25 years old and ready for a change.
365 days later, I am in Croatia writing this after four months of backpacking through Central America and Europe. I work remotely, taking my work with me on the road as I bounce from hostel to hostel and get to see some of the most beautiful places in the world.
It all stemmed from one action:
Picking one thing that I really liked and pursuing it.
Almost one year ago, I started my own blog. After months of writing online I realized that the only way for me to create the lifestyle that I wanted was to create an online portfolio and personal brand that could showcase that I was going for my dreams and I wanted to help others do it too.
My passions far extend writing. I love marketing, photography and videography, travel and healthy foods but how realistic would it have been for me to try to pursue all of those passions at once? I still had a full time job and didn’t have the time or money to put into becoming the best traveler, photographer, healthy food advocate and marketer that existed.
Looking at my friend, I was able to confidently say from experience, “Choose one and go for it.”
What happens when you go after one of your passions is something you don’t realize until you’re living it.
You bounce off of it on to something else.
My passion was writing. Writing inspired me to create a blog and then a personal brand and I discovered that my interests in content far exceeded just writing.
Instead of looking at your passion as a whole encompassing aspect of your life, look at it as the pinball in one those old arcade games.
When you hit that ball, you don’t always know where it is going to go-but you know it is going to go somewhere.
Your goal for creating a passionate career is to take one action towards only one of your passions.
Consider it as a trial run, an action that is suited specifically to teach you if that passion is your end all or if there is an even greater passion that you will discover along the way.
After you have completed that one action, follow through on what is being asked of you next. I started writing online with no intention of creating a personal brand but at one point I realized that I had no choice. This was the next step if I wanted to level up and continue creating the lifestyle that I desired.
One action today means that in 365 days you could be living the life of your dreams. I can’t imagine having ever let the fear of following my passions keep me from the past four months of world travels, new friends and epic experiences.
Get your head in the game, pull back the handle and let the ball fly allowing your passions to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.