What's Next After Living Out Your Dream?

Mar 23, 2013

Slide 1
Mui Ne, Vietnam
Dec '11
Photo by Anthony

I was recently invited to give a talk on traveling and career break by Tara Let’s Go Asia. Tara Let’s Go Asia’s goal is to encourage people (especially professionals) to include travel in their lifestyle. One of their maiden events was to bring together these people to hear speakers share their experiences and tips on how to make more money and save up for travels, and how they were able to do their own career breaks. One of the speakers was my good friend Paul of WalkFlyPinoy who I travelled with for two months on my Big Trip, and has long since lived on the road pursuing his love for travel, travel photography and writing. He told the organizers of Tara Let’s Go Asia about me and how I was able to ‘reintegrate’ myself back in the corporate world. After a few weeks of convincing, I said yes. 

To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive during the start given how I didn’t want people to think that I travelled because I wanted a break from my 'career'. I wanted people to know that my love for travel pushes me to work hard to be able to save up for another adventure. I apparently misunderstood what ‘career break’ truly means. It may mean (1) taking a gap year (2) changing careers or (3) just literally taking a break from working. 

I had no idea what to tell people. I was supposed to talk about the ‘After Part’, what’s next after traveling and taking that ‘break’. I never really thought about writing about it before either. I guess I wanted to share more of my travels and never gave this topic that much thought. But I realized that it was indeed one of the fears I had prior to quitting my job and doing the Big Trip. 

I started writing down a ‘speech’ or what I wanted people to know, how I experienced and how I’ve overcome this fear. And my thoughts just flowed naturally.

Next was the powerpoint presentation. I wasn’t prepared for this either. The only powerpoint presentations I’ve done are for work and mostly involved numbers, tables, and charts. I didn't know how to summarize my points in a powerpoint presentation. Until I realized that maybe I should show my travel photos and use them to compel people, or at least encourage them. I’ve always been a visual person, countless travel photos have always pushed me to pursue traveling. 

When I was about to start the talk, during the ‘games’ part before the host introduced me – I was panicking. I was just looking over and over again at my slides despite the fact that nothing seems to be registering in my memory. What even caught my attention was the fact that the three other speakers all changed careers and I was thinking to myself – ‘Am I supposed to be… is my topic supposed to be the last resort? When people are already desperate to go back working again for the corporate world?!’ hahaha So I looked at the list of the attendees and saw that there were a number of professionals. I told myself that I knew what these people are feeling right now, because I was once in their place, and I knew how it felt to be scared. 

But when I started the talk, the words and sharing my experiences just flowed naturally. I felt so happy to see people nodding when I was describing to them the fears that I had, when I saw them reacting to my travel photos and stories, and of course the applause after that. I felt even happier when people came up to us after the talk and told us how inspiring we are. And that people actually knew me and they read my blog (yay!). It felt weird in a way, because we were like them before when we attended talks of travellers as well. But more than anything, I felt happy to meet people who have the same passion for travel. That despite the stress of work and different ‘responsibilities’, they make time to travel, and that they were there because they wanted to know more how they can pursue traveling. 

One of the cool things that happened was meeting this family of four – the parents and two teenage girls – who were there to attend the event. I loved how the parents are instilling the importance of traveling to their girls’ life.

I’d like to thank Gian, Charlotte, and Paul for the tips they shared to us, especially of WWOOFing and living in New Zealand (for future purposes, who knows?). For the organizers and founders – especially to Gian and Jeff for creating an event and a platform for people, for Filipinos to be encouraged to go traveling. Continue inspiring people to travel! 

So here’s the talk I gave and I hope you’d get something out of it too. ;)

I’m Angge and I quit my investment banking job in 2011 and travelled for five months around Asia – SE Asia, India, and Nepal. It was the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m a very visual person, so back when I was still preparing for the Big Trip, I made a Vision Board of the places and things I wanted to see. 

Slide 2 Big Trip Vision Board

And now this is my version of that Vision Board.

Slide 3 Big Trip
The Big Trip
Oct '11 - Feb '12

I just want you guys to know that it’s possible. That you can make it happen too. I was like you guys back in 2010 when I made the decision to quit my job and travel. It was during that time that the stress at my work reached its peak but I was also slowly discovering my love for travel. When I made the decision to quit, I felt alone. I didn’t have any support group like this before, I didn't know any travel bloggers back then yet.

As Filipinos, we were raised to study hard, go to a good university, look for a good job, take up graduate studies, buy a house, buy a car. So when I told people around me about quitting and traveling, they really didn’t understand me. That included my parents and some of my colleagues. They all thought I was probably wasting a good career, a good job, and a good future. My friends supported me but no one wanted to do it with me. I remember preparing an excel file of the places I wanted to see and how much it would cost me. I sent this to my friends and only Paul was crazy enough to actually consider it. I felt alone that time until I eventually discovered other Filipino travellers as well. 

And I guess that’s what we want, what the organizers here want to be for you. We want to encourage you to pursue that love for traveling. The other speakers have already talked about the preparations and tips for traveling cheap, and the part-time jobs you may want to consider. They have changed careers and I haven’t. I’m still in the same industry. I may change careers in the future, because people have done it. But for now I know it’s the best way for me to save up for another adventure. 

Let me show you this photo first. It’s a photo by Julian Bialowas, a Canadian photographer.

Source : 365q

When I first saw this photo, I felt pain. First was the pain of wanting to leave my job and be on the road and see that mountain for myself. Second pain was the realization that it is true. It was only me and my fears that were stopping me from doing it. 

Some of the strongest fears I had were these questions in my head: 

Slide 5 Fear of the Unknown
the view of the strong flowing river during the time I went bungy jumping in Nepal
Photo by Paul of WalkFlyPinoy

Before I answer those questions. Let me give you a very important tip: 

Slide 6 Bum Fund
Si Phan Don, Laos
Jan '13

This is very important. I was lucky after the Big Trip because I found a job when I went back here for Christmas. But I told my then future-boss that I was going to travel again for another two months, and he was okay with it. But last year when I quit my job again (for both personal and company-related reasons) and went to Burma, it took me almost two months to find another job. And after a relatively long time of no cash inflow, I was really glad I had enough money to survive for a few months. So aside from saving up for your travel funds, save up for this too. 

Slide 7 PTD
2015 Vision Board

Another thing you’ll experience is the Post-Travel Depression. It can be very strong and you’ll find yourself crying, or wishing to travel again. You’ll find yourself checking flights again. But what I did was to focus. I knew that I wanted to see the rest of the world, I wanted to go on another adventure. And it was South America. This is my new Vision Board. So the best way for me to start making this happen was to be practical and find a job. 

Slide 8 Find  a Job
Singapore Night Skyline
Oct '11

Again I admire the people who’ve changed careers. But for me, I knew I wanted to get hired again. I didn’t want my pride getting in the way of my dreams. Companies were still interested in me and wanted to hire me. And I knew that I was good with what I was doing and the nature of work was different from the bank job I had. So I went back to the corporate world. 

Slide 9 Be Honest
Nov '11

And now, how to explain the gap in your resume. I was honest. I told them why I quit my job and the job functions that I wanted to get away from and luckily they were offering me a job without them. I told them how I love to travel and the lessons I’ve learned. How I learned to be patient especially in dealing with difficult people and situations. If you want to get international job placements, you can also tell them that you’ve learned how to adjust to changes because you’ve tried living/traveling in another country especially poor countries (like I did). 

The one thing they asked me though was if I was planning on doing long-term travel again. And I said yes, I said I wanted to see South America in the next few years. But for now I want to find a good job and work. And I think it brings a message to them that I would value the job because I had a goal in mind. I may not be on the top of their loyalty list but I will be doing my best to keep my job. 

Slide 10 Interview
Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal
Nov '11

But based from experience, I just want you guys to know that the gap is not the only reason why they will not hire you. They will hire you more for the experiences and job accomplishments you have from your past employment and what your previous bosses can say about how you work. Not to brag, but maybe the reason why I’ve had offers from my old bosses to go back was because I work hard. I’ve always given my best and I’ve always worked for what they’re paying me. I’ve earned all of it. It has always been my principle when it comes to working. So the gap shouldn’t really be a big deal. 

Slide 11 Patience
Dec '12

And of course, be patient. It’s going to be different for each person, it may take a while to find a new job or it may be quick. And sometimes it may feel hopeless. But you just have to be patient and be prepared (the bum fund). 

Slide 12 No Regrets
Dec '12
Quote by : Sabrina Lobino

But always know that it’s all going to be worth it. I’ve never regretted the decision I made back then. My travels and all the lessons and experiences I had has all been worth it. And I’ve never met anyone as well who’s regretted making the same decision. 

Slide 13 Being Different
Dec '12

Know that one of the things that will bring you down are the people around you. Some have genuine concerns about your future, but probably most of them just want to do what you’re planning on doing but they're also scared. Try to not entertain this kind of discouragement because it can lead to you backing out. And I think that’s the worst thing you can do to yourself and your dream – to give up. And also, the one important thing I learned was this. 

DSC_0083 3
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
Oct '11

I have a different perspective on how I live my life right now. I know that my job and the material things I have, those that used to stress me out, do not define who I am as a person. 

I guess all I’m saying is that all your fears are valid. And it’s alright to be scared. But always know that you can overcome them. And that those fears? They should never be enough for you to give up and not pursue your dreams. 

Travel Love 20
Luang Prabang, Laos
Jan '12

So again. What’s stopping you? 

Source : 365q

The crowd all said “Nothing!” 

I hope you’ve found some inspiration and encouragement from this one. As always, you can reach out to me via leaving a comment here or sending me an email at angelicacruzph@gmail.com.

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