How the fear of the unknown helped a strategist to embrace spontaneity and brought an introvert to share her life stories with complete strangers.
This is how my dream of travel came to be. After seven years of working for the same company, I was let go. That was not part of the plan. My meticulous personality had everything lined up: study French, apply for my Canadian permanent residency, save more money and then quit… but getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me. Would I have been brave enough to quit and leave my security as I knew it?
My first day at home was scary. I was not sure I would be able to achieve my goals and that sudden fear of the unknown froze my senses, but it also made me realize that I was now free to pursue my dream: traveling the world. A second plan was born.
When I booked my one-way ticket to Portugal about two months later, I had no idea that I was never going back to Brazil. The idea was to leave on a sabbatical for eight months and go right back to find another job. After a year I was organizing a trip to New Zealand on a campervan.
“I was always cautiously planning for the future all the time while life just kept on reminding me that I wasn’t in control. When I found myself wandering the streets of Lisbon with no set destination, I started understanding that some of the best experiences I had were not planned.”
One of my long-life dreams was to cook canned beans over a campfire, just as they do on those western movies – weird, I know. Never thought that day would actually come, and the beans would be sweet, chewy and flavorless, and that was the moment that changed everything. The moment that revealed a deeper understanding that anything is possible.
Reality strikes constantly and we usually come up with lots of reasons (or excuses?) not to follow the path to what we consider liberating. We keep on working at jobs we dislike, procrastinating holidays, stressing over our finances, struggling with lack of time to do everything in life, but never taking that step to take us out of the cycle. Eventually, years go by before we realize we missed an opportunity and by that time another reasoning invade our thoughts: I’m too old now. Nonsense! I am 41 years old and having a blast.
Life can be complicated, but small steps are key.
On the road, we meet many faces that are there for different reasons: vacation, discovery, soul-searching, self-reflection or just to get away. They all have amazing stories to tell and a better understanding of our own selves is the ultimate result of those encounters.
One life, many stories. Sharing becomes a habit and caring is implicit.
My favorite concept of visiting other cultures is the immersion in a whole new lifestyle, many times much different than the one we know back home. The world is filled with people from the most spectacular histories and traditions and all those experiences add to the person we become when we travel.
The story was not about a place anymore, but about all places and all people.
The Sabbatical Years
Staying in one city for more than a couple of weeks was exhilarating. The feeling of living the local life, shopping at the corner store, knowing which bakery has the best cinnamon buns or the times for the live music at the local pub brought me the feeling of my wish being fulfilled.
Memories imprinted with the smell of saffron in Barcelona, the taste of pisco in Cusco, the songs played on the streets of Galway, the colors of Mexico and the extraordinary sigh the Iguazu Falls often make me want to go back.
Resort vacations are incredibly comfortable and relaxing, but nothing says authenticity more than exploring your destination.
One year of traveling turned into two years, that turned into a new job in Canada – the place that I had my heart set on.
Little did I know that Canada would come with a bit of a cultural shock. Not only adapting to a different social environment, but also being from a tropical climate surely presented its challenges. The solution of finding shelter in sunny places during the harsh Canadian winter was inevitable, which is the perfect excuse to keep on traveling.
The outstanding benefits of taking the steps towards the life you want to live are endless, from satisfaction to simply the calm sense of self.