We all have an alarm clock inside us, whether we realize it or not. Being ready to make a choice is a journey more than a feeling.
Taking that leap of faith and going freelance is about time, but also about timing.
At 17 years old, an Argentinian girl from a small town north of Buenos Aires province, most of my friends knew what they wanted out of life. Me? Not so much.
Actually… I knew nothing at all. Towards the end of high school I spent six months making charts, googling universities, careers and opportunities. And I’m talking about 15 years ago, when “to Google” wasn’t a verb and WiFi didn’t exist yet. But I knew I wanted an education, college and then to get some work experience at a company or something. I ended up choosing to study Communications, and moved to Rosario to study. Looking back now, all that seems like another lifetime.
Travel: At Odds with a Stable Career?
I had finished university and was already working in advertising in a small, local agency when I made the decision to move from my home town to Buenos Aires by myself. I was 24 and it took some convincing to get my parents on board, but they were supportive. And I was full of hope. The big city seemed like a land of opportunity for advertising and media, the industry in which I wanted to continue my career.
I soon found myself moving 300km to the magical and overwhelming Argentinian capital. The city is like no other, and coming from a smaller town where everyone knows you, it was an adventure that I just had to tackle.
Traveling abroad was also something I wanted to explore more. I was enchanted by the idea of living in another country, on my own, surrounded by a different language and culture. But fear got in the way and I postponed it, for years. Even though I researched into work and travel programs, au pair and language exchange trips, there was always something holding me back. I wasn’t ready.
I found a way to travel nonetheless. I was 26 when I dared to step onto European soil for the first time. My time there felt like a dream come true. It was eye-opening, and something ignited inside of me.
Choosing Passion over Fear
Still, moving abroad on a permanent basis was not an option on the table. I didn’t have European citizenship and work visas were difficult to get hold of back then, so I resigned to continue working full time in Buenos Aires. Until a deeply disappointing professional experience left me full of questions and doubt.
Bitter bosses, no freedom to make my own way or add value to my work in my day-to-day tasks, I felt trapped in a pointless position with a crappy salary. When I was 27 I was laid off for no reason, randomly, with no notice. That was a big wake up call. This life was far from what I wanted, or imagined for myself.
I felt like a big ball of anxiety. My internal alarm rang loudly and I had no choice but to listen. After having taken jobs in marketing and fashion brands for three years, I went back to my first love: advertising and writing.
A friend of a friend needed a copywriter for a project, so I started working in a small ad agency, and had the best (and the worst!) time of my life in an office. I felt excitement, I felt recognised. I grew, I learnt, I thrived for more than two years.
Yet another holiday trip to Spain and Portugal changed it all, and the creeping feeling that I was missing something in my everyday life returned. I chased after it, trying to work out what it was. I realised I wanted a different kind of lifestyle: to work and travel at the same time for a while, and to experiment with location independent work.
It was a bold move, but I had nothing to lose. There was no record in the company of permission, but at the same time, no-one had ever asked before me. I made sure to play my cards so that “no” wasn’t a possible answer, and my boss approved me to work remotely for three months, although it had never been done before.
But then something shook everything up, complicating my decision. When I finally got the permission to work remotely and I started to plan my trip, I was offered an excellent part-time freelance job, but it would have meant staying in Buenos Aires.
I was torn. The nomadic experience of traveling and working at the same time was exciting and adventurous. I felt as if this was the time right to do it, or I would never ever have that chance again. And I would be able to keep my job, which I liked. But the freelance opportunity was interesting because it meant the possibility of changing my whole lifestyle not just for three months, but for good. Both jobs were in advertising, similar in tasks, responsibilities and pay. So essentially, the choice became whether to experience being a digital nomad in Europe for 90 days, or a BA-based freelancer for life.
Two big dreams were within my reach at the same time but I could only pick one, and I knew that I would have to let go of one of them. I shed a lot of tears, write pros and cons charts, then cried again. After thinking long and hard I realized that I needed to follow my timer, my heart, my pulse. And I bought a plane ticket and went to Europe.
Perfect Timing: When The Stars Align
But sometimes, the universe works in mysterious ways. When I was about to finish my digital nomad adventure and return to Buenos Aires to routine life, that freelance job that I let go was offered to me again. The opportunity that I thought was lost forever was still waiting for me back home. Maybe it was luck, maybe the stars aligned in my favour for once. At the time I really felt like I deserved it after all I had been through. So I made the necessary arrangements and took the plunge.
Now I’m a freelancer, and have been for more than a year. On my terms and to my timetable, no one else’s. I listened to me for a change, and it paid off. I’m even helping and inspiring other people to take the leap by hosting the Flylancer community in Buenos Aires.
I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m not even saying everyone should try it. But what I’ve discovered, from my personal experience, is that you already have all the answers. You just have to be quiet enough to hear your needs and wishes talking to you. Your ticking clock is there, in you. Just pay attention, and listen.