А Year in Review From a 28-Year Old Digital Nomad (Part I )— Day 40 of 99 Days of Wander
Love & engagement, discovering who I am not, quitting an online venture and starting another, getting a full-time remote job while being paid double, starting my gluten and lactose free journey, intense yoga practice, learning Spanish and Portuguese, getting a driver’s license — these are just some of the transformations I went through during my 27th year of life :)
Beach, great healthy food and ease of access to it, arts and culture, ease of getting around (walking, biking or Ubering), safety and peace, an open-minded positive tribe, inspiring coworking spaces — that’s all I need to be happy.
I thought I’d do the yearly self-reflection on my birthday as I am not a big fan of resolutions or “top 9” trends as they happen. I turned 28 years old a week ago so here is my year in review. Just an average year in the life of a digital nomad ;)
My 27th year, or the year of 2016, brought lots of surprises, personal growth, and of course, lots of travel. I have lived in 14 different cities and moved around the world 26 times.
But first, a word on embracing instability.
I’ve never been a traditional goal-setter as I always prefer to go with the flow. SMART goals and Gantt Charts are not for me. Since I started travelling full-time almost two years ago I’ve been mostly going with the flow. I only needed to know what happens in the next one to two months and that’s how I lived my life. I would figure it all out there and then. Some might call this approach naive, irrational and irresponsible.
I believe it’s essential to learn how to deal with instability in order to gain control of the stability. Once you learn to embrace the instability you’ll become more flexible to the changes in your daily life and will understand that everything has a solution and most problems are really not that important.
Stability was always boring for me. As a child I constantly wanted to experience new things and adventures: I have tried all the possible sports and creative activities and always got into some trouble with my daily adventures around the city of Chisinau. I was skipping school, smoking cigarretes, drinking alcohol and hanging out with the boys. That’s what cared most as a teenager: boys. (My troubled and rebel teenare years shall be the subject of another post.)
This post is about what the “mature” 28-year old Anna has done with her life so far. And boy, she has done a lot.
When I started travelling in May 2014 the only thing that was stable in my life was my remote online marketing job. Every day I woke up without any idea of where I shall work today, where I will go, what I will eat and who I will be hanging out, drinking, kissing or having sex with 😃 I loved it all.
It felt like I was watching a movie of my own life getting excited about what shall happen next. The only thing missing was the caramel popcorn.
But it wasn’t some sort of a one-time crazy adventure where I let myself loose and completely forgot of any control or responsibility. I was consciously choosing this lifestyle and the adventure of not knowing what will happen next.
And so here are my top accomplishments/transformations during last year:
1. Realizing what I LOVE doing.
This year was transformational because I realized that my “specialty” for the last 4.5 years was not something I really enjoyed doing. Online marketing is not my thing. Sorry, but I wasn’t able to stare into the laptop screen for eight hours a day checking sales and landing pages, conversion rates and coming up with a cool new marketing campaign. It just became so draining that I could barely get up out of bed and make myself open the damn laptop and turn on Slack. (Having a manager who was micromanaging me the whole time wasn’t helpful either.) My Macbook Pro became a thing that I hated.
So I faced the “sad” truth that I am not an online marketer and I started exploring what I really am. Why is it sad? Well, because I would love to be one and continue becoming an expert in this field. No one likes to change careers after 4.5 years learning everything they can about an industry and being successful at it. The thing is that I am good at a lot of things (besides surfing and other extreme sports.) I was always good at a lot of things so I never managed to get great at one thing.
What’s even “sadder” is that I started to make pretty good money in the field of online marketing and in 2–3 years I could have been getting a 6-figure income. Online marketing can give you that kind of money.
But I couldn’t do it anymore. My soul was crushed, the fire in my eyes has stopped burning and I Wanderova was not wandering anymore. There were days when I felt like I had depression. Like seriously, I even googled “depression” a couple of times. I could just lie in bed and stare at a point in the ceiling for hours. I could wake without any emotion… Apathy. That’s what I felt. I didn’t feel anything, just emptiness. And this was scary. So I decided to quit and see what happens. I decided to say NO to making someone else’s dream happen at my expense. I decided to make my own dream come true. Or at least discover what fires and lights me up.
I needed to be reborn, create, explore, teach, be on stage and work with people!
So I started digging. I had a call with a “career strategist” where we explored some of the things I am great at and what lights me up. I have discovered and decided that I am a creative producer. (WTF does that mean?) Well, for a while I wanted to go into film. Like movies and hollywood. Yeah I know, dreamers shall dream!
I was considering going to film school and get a Master’s of Arts degree in production. Another option was to just start working in the industry. Get an internship in a production house, work my ass off as an assistant for about two years and then move up the “ladder.”
I also always felt this self-driving thing in me that was pulling me into the right direction. I always knew what I wanted. I always went for it. I was always an entrepreneur, I loved stage, I loved working with people.
And so when one day during one of the countless discussions on what Wanderova shall do next with her life, my beloved Estring showed me a killer domain name we could buy… I said YES.
I said YES to being my own boss, to creating and influencing, to spreading a message and inspiration through my own thing. So I decided to start an online business where I will create inspiring content for women that will provide them with the knowledge of how to succeed in life by being a woman and not a man.
2. Love & engagement
Definitely unexpected. Last year this time around I was a happy single woman in love with myself and the new continent of Latin America. I have finally managed to escape the emotional dependency from men. I was happy, single and free. I loved life, loved myself and couldn’t be more grateful.
And here is where He came into my life. Not taking him seriously, I didn’t pay much attention to his subtle attepmts of gaining my attention and even one night said “You should stop wasting your time with me.” (She still teases me about it.)
Fastforward to 12 months later and I’ve just sent out the RSVPs for our wedding in September in Moldova. Was it unexpected? Yes. Was it a complete surprise? Not for me and those who know me. I have consciously built my life around what I truly want. I also imagined Him and was writing letters to him 1,5 years before I met him. I worked on myself and discovered how relationships work and everything else I could learn about men and women during the last three years. So no, it wasn’t a surprise but rather a consequence of becoming emotionally free and feminine, knowing what I want from myself, my man and our relationship.
3. Money, Career & Business
Last year was a huge realization in terms of money, career and business.
I have closed down my ManInside Show podcast after 43 interviews with men on women and relationships and my first attempt at building a business.
I have found a full-time remote job in online marketing that allowed me to travel around the world while earning double from what I was making previously.
I started my “99 Days of Wander” project where I committed to documenting my journey in writing about what happens after quite my online marketing job (all posts on my profile.)
Decided to start my next online business launching this year ;-)
4. Gluten & lactose free
I became “lactose free” last July and “gluten free” last September. So far this has been the biggest health & diet transformation of my life. No, I didn’t do it to follow trends I had a real problem that I was trying to solve forever and that has impacted my self-esteem and self-confidence since teenage years.
Through trial and error and through time I realized I had intolerances to both of these ingredients. Every time I eat either gluten or lactose I have a pimple coming out on my face almost the next day. It’s like my face is a living organism that’s communicating with me: “Anna, that piece of pizza was great and delicious but the body’s not liking it so you better not do it again.” or “Anna, I understand that you had to try the crème brûlée over dinner last night but it really wasn’t necessary. Your body didn’t like that AT ALL.”
Today my skin is not perfect but I am not looking at my face in the mirror and suffering through the pain of facing the world for a full day with acne on my face. I know now it feels to walk in a room full of people and give a presentation with a face full of problems. I also know how it feels to sit at a bar and think that no men are approaching you because of your face full of problems. And I absolutely know how it is to wake up in the morning with a man in your bed knowing that you have this face he has to look at :( No more. (I’ll write a separate post on that.)
Note: what also helped here is having a hypnotherapy session with a professional hypnotherapist as well as quitting smoking.
My relationship with yoga started about four years ago. I didn’t take it seriously up until maybe 1,5 years ago when I realized how much better I feel emotionally, physically and intellectually with a steady 2–3 times a week practice. So I deepened my practice and today I can’t start my morning without a 20-minute yoga stretch and three intense hatha yoga sessions during the week.
My intense practice in Sayulita, Mexico for two months also opened the door for me to a new incredibly powerful connection to my body. I literally feel in charge of my body, I feel my legs and I know how to calm my mind. Yoga is a way of life for me. My body needs it like a drug after three days of no practice.
Right now I am preparing for my YTT 200 (yoga teacher training for 200 hours) course in Bali that will happen in May. I can teach after and work with people and bring them the joy of yoga!
I have embraced the philosophy of minimalism or essentialism. Less is indeed more for me. Less stuff, less people, less trouble, less information, less stress, less hustle. Instead, enough quality clothes, quality people, quality opportunities, quality information, quality, efficient and thoughtful hustle. I don’t hustle for the sake of hustling.
I finally managed to get my driver’s license in Bulgaria. Jeeeeez, that has been on my bucket list forever. It was really hard going through an intensive driving course in during those four weeks while having a full time job. My brain was not working properly and I might have complained on Facebook about it one day. A male friend called me #drama and I became so infuriated with men making women feel dramatic all the time that I wrote a blog post about it.
I’m proud to say that during last year I’ve learned to speak Spanish and also Portuguese. Jeez, that was a hell of a journey but I’m so grateful I managed to got through it. Now I speak three languages fluently (Russian, Romanian & English), two languages on an intermediate level (Spanish and Bulgarian) and one on a beginner level (Portuguese). Today I can travel through any Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking country with no problem!
That’s all I know so far. Stay tuned for Part II where I will review my travel journey in different countries and provide my Top 9 for each memorable destination!
The “Wise 28-Year Old” Wanderova
Questions, concerns, reactions to this craziness? Leave in comment ;-)
P.S. My 28th, bring it on! I am ready!