An Open Letter After 5 Unexpected Years of Living in the Same City, Bucharest
A Journey From Invisibility to Growth and Community Leader
Five years ago I was gambling my luck when I fist set foot in this city. I thought to myself: “No one knows me here, I’m invisible. Anonymous. A nobody-but-myself. And I know nobody here. Clean slate. Start fresh, anew. No dramas, no nothing.”
Well, at least that’s what I thought. I’m an awful patriot: I visited about 20 other capital cities before visiting Bucharest (which is the capital of my country). I had no idea what to expect here, perhaps just a pile of bricks and cement tiles, and grumpy people. My goal was to get admitted into a master’s program, then move to another place and apply for a PhD program. I didn’t visualize myself living in this city, long-term.
Five years later, I’m still here. Screw the PhD program! Just like my friend geshe Michael Roach told me in 2014, after organizing together a Diamond Cutter conference, “too much studying, too much effort. You don’t need so much stress. You can do better”.
I’m sitting in my office today, looking at a massive to do list, cool projects with nice people. I don’t hate it, I don’t resent it. Instead, I’m embracing it. It’s my own to-do list, and that makes me smile. I decided to get an office for my own sake, not for employees or business partners. And to stop working from cafes or from home. It was about darn time, after 7years. :))
Outside my window, the Old Town reveals its long forgotten glory. The National Bank in my right is a fuel motivator to make more money. Just downstairs lies my favorite cafe, Van Gogh. Most of the times, I meet friends here for drinks in the evening. I’ve been a regular for about 3years. And I’m preparing a conference for my freelancers, in the same building, in September. It’s gonna be a blast, I know it!
Now, I have plenty of connections. I made friends. I have a great community of freelancers who want to achieve more, who seek my guidance and advice. I mentor them and I’m loving it. It’s been 4years since I joined as an Elance, and now Upwork ambassador. And wow, such a thrill, and continues to be one. I’m meeting a handful of amazing freelancers today in an informal format to drink a beer and just enjoy each other’s company. Summer is over, September is here. We wanna laugh, and remember the amazing cooking session we had together back in July.
My business grew, too, and I, along with it. I went from invisible to being on the cover of a top Romanian business magazine, having journalists knocking on my door to hear my story and share it with the world. Then came international mentions in HuffingtonPost, Lifehack and niche websites. I don’t know if it helped anyone, but my office colleague (and new friend) tells me reading my story encouraged her to pursue a freelancing career. She met me in person one year after. She now has her own business, CoverSought. And me. We share an office and a couple of hrs per day together. So far, so good.
I have a business etiquette: every year I do something to give back to the community.
It’s either hold workshops for Universities, to encourage students to market their skills and do their own thing. Or teach a marketing course in a startup accelerator. Or find a local business and support them with free advice, organize events there and recommend them to friends.
Hmm, or simply find 1–2 startups that need support but don’t have budgets, and help them start something. Marketing, branding, design, user experience, online business. Something that fuels their motivation.
Errmmm… 4 failed startups later, having to let go of good people, employees, business partners… I finally got a hang of what I’m really good at, and now I’m expanding my last company.
Solopreneurship at its finest. I have great support from international friends, overseas connections and a couple of communities that are ready to jump in with feedback and suggestions.
And this one tells the story of how Tango transformed me professionally and personally. And helped me overcome a breakup that was kind of a big deal.
I’m drinking yummy coffee. In control of who I am, what I do and who I become. It ain’t that bad. I can take a break if I feel like it, and book a flight to a nice city in a foreign country. Today. Tomorrow. One month from now. I have friends in over 60 countries around the world, and it’s on my to do list to travel to all of them and see them again.
I don’t have to explain myself to anyone or justify my actions.
I am free to use my brain and my potential.
I can fire myself and hire myself.
Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and for better wiser decisions.
But I know I grew as a person, as a professional, as a friend, sister, daughter.
I’m closer to being the best version of myself, and I have proof to remind myself I’m on the right track.
Life is good, with ups and downs, still as good though. :)
To be continued…