Quitting my job at 21 to travel the world

Aileen Adalid
What this ultimately boils down to is that for as long as you abandon conventions and embrace fear as you go after your true passion in life, great things can happen

When I was 21 years old, the future looked bright for me.

I was working at a big international investment company and I was the best performer in the team – I was earning enough money to live by myself, I had a looming promotion, and an overseas transfer was expected too. The icing to the cake? I became “Employee of the Month.”

Naturally, these accomplishments made my parents beam with pride. People would even often think that I have it “all” especially since I was doing really well in my career despite being a fresh graduate.

But what they didn’t know was that I was uninspired and miserable.

I realized that I only clung to that job to follow the natural “linear” order of life wherein everyone is expected to get a stable 9-to-5 career after graduation to secure a future – any differing or unconventional aspirations will have to take a backseat (and if you come from a traditional family like me, this process will be closely monitored by your parents). 

Leaving, living

ADVENTURE. Paragliding over Annecy, France

Certainly, not being able to do what I really wanted in life had burned me out, but other than that, the overall “office setting” or lifestyle made me wonder: “Is this all there is to it?”

It worked for others, but it didn’t work for me. It definitely wasn’t the kind of life that I wanted, and when I started to meet backpackers, nomads, and entrepreneurs who were passing through Manila, my whole world was turned upside down.

Here were these individuals who abandoned society’s conventions because they chose to do what they really love to do – no matter how unusual a thing it was – and they were not only successful but also happy.

That was the moment when I knew it was time for me to take the leap. I didn’t want to waste my 20s anymore, nor did I want to settle and enslave myself to a corporation just to fit into society’s concept of security. So after a bit of preparation (and thorough discussions with my parents), I finally left my corporate job to go after my real passion in life: traveling the world while working for myself. 

It has been almost two years now, and since then, I’ve flown around the French Alps as a paraglider, played around with elephants in Thailand, ventured the busy streets of Hong Kong, and so much more. As I hopped from one country to another, I had even managed to set up an online business that led me to live a more sustainable travel lifestyle.

How did this happen? Do I have rich parents or family members to back me up? No. Do I have some sort of inheritance enabling me to travel the world and to set up a company? No. Do I have someone who’s giving me money? No.

I actually got to where I am now through my own hard work. I had made this lifestyle happen and you can do the same.

How I did it

WANDERLUST. Trekking across the Ardennes' forest in Wallonia, Belgium  

I just did what I really wanted to do. I also transferred my profession online – I became a digital nomad.

You don’t have to be a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer if that’s not what you want to be because no matter how good you are at it, you will just end up unhappy, and that will certainly hinder you from doing far greater things in your life.

Besides, if you focus all your efforts into something that you are truly passionate about, you will not only be good at it, you will also become a master of it. And you will be happy. You might even earn more.

I actually hold a business degree specialized for the corporate setting and it is totally unrelated to the profession that I wanted to do, which was online marketing and graphic design. Nevertheless, I didn’t let my education hinder me from doing the things that I enjoyed. 

After discovering how there are a lot of opportunities on the Internet and how there is great demand for such professionals, for two months, I scoured the web for tutorials to learn what I needed to know. When I was confident about my knowledge, I started to offer my services to different clients online. 

I had to start small at first, but then I slowly gained more recognition and I even bagged a contract for an online brand that paid me double what I earned before. I eventually earned quadruple when they promoted me to higher positions. All these happened because they saw that I was good in what I was doing.

Things were going really well, especially since while I was doing all that work online, I was also traveling at the same time – I was in full control of my time. 

How was I? Happy, fulfilled, and contented.

I learned that doing what it takes to achieve the lifestyle and career that I want is always the best choice. And if you could transfer it online, then the better it would be. You will not only be able to travel the world, you will also be able to control your time.

It was hard at first – of course it would be – but for as long as I work hard (which is second nature to me because I enjoy doing it anyway) things will always bear fruit. 

So don’t you ever undervalue your abilities and skills; there are people out there who are willing to pay you more for the things that you can do. Also, if you’re not happy with where you are now, act to achieve the dream job that you want to have and which you are rather better at doing. 

Remember this: you are far more valuable than you think, especially when you are at your most productive state.

Sense of security

We are often bound to our office jobs because it’s the typically perceived way of securing our future; however, that’s not entirely true, because there will be a time that you might get laid off or fired – you are working for someone else anyway. It is for that reason that we should always create our own sense of security which is usually in the form of making a profession or a business that you would personally own and control. 

“Always think long-term” was my mantra and this helped a lot in making me the entrepreneur that I am today.

You see, though I was handling different clients, I always had it in my mind to think of more sustainable ways to support myself. I was always open to whatever opportunity came my way, and an opportunity surely came when I was inspired by one of the online clients I was working for.

They had a really good business, and after learning almost all the processes they had, I just knew that I could do it too. So after a bit of preparation, I decided to adapt their idea, along with my travel partner, and then launched our very own online company

Today, I am no longer working for anyone else. I am now working for myself, and the way I see it, I have truly secured my own future – I have built my own dream, and you can do it too.

Looking back, I think that my traveling lifestyle truly helped in my entrepreneurial journey because I was constantly encountering not only new experiences but new people who were also building their dreams with their own abilities. All those things really helped push me into aspiring for my own. 

But above all, I think that what this ultimately boils down to is that for as long as you abandon conventions and embrace fear as you go after your true passion in life, great things can happen. 

It can be a fast process, though most of the time it can be slow. But like everything else, it’s not a race but a journey and you can choose to enjoy it. – Rappler.com

Aileen Adalid is a traveler and an entrepreneur. Follow her adventures through her blog and Facebook.

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