I Finished Remote Year: I’m free

When you decide to start traveling in the way I did, it shakes your whole being. Imagine leaving everything in your life to move every month, from city to city with 70 complete strangers for a whole year. Well, that’s Remote Year for you; a year-long voyage that pushes you to your greatest self.

In hindsight, I’m blown away by how brave our group is. I mean, constantly on the move to cover 10 countries and 12 cities across 3 continents is no easy feat. At first glance, the digital nomad lifestyle is pure bliss. However, the amount of work we put in and tenacity we must have to sustain it all carries a world of hardship no average person could handle. We fought and literally sacrificed it all to see the world, and find ourselves.

The same way nothing could have prepared me for what to expect in starting Remote Year, no one could have anticipated the new challenge in ending it. There is no right way to sum up an entire year of new experiences, new people and new strength. My last year brought about so many life changes and growth of which I am exceptionally proud.

All through the year, I’ve learned to trust in the process and be mindful of my present. Coming up to the end of the year and trying to plan out, to some effect, what I was going to do next, I fell back into a negative disposition and depression. The same ill mindset I experienced previous to the program; one fueled by fear of the unknown and self-loathing. But, it was an enlightening stage because it made me face the darkness yet again, and challenged me to fight through those same pitfalls. The same things I’d been steadfast in overcoming through my Remote Year journey. And these are bad habits many people face as well — laziness, procrastination, lack of organization and discipline. In these areas I feel, personally, I lacked in my upbringing. Since realizing those pitfalls at the start of my journey, I’ve pushed to refine myself in a way I know would be the best platform to step into my true greatness and reach my highest potential. I thank God for yet another shake up in the last two weeks since I ended RY. This period of uncertainty and frequent visits to my darkest places gave me a chance to solidify the growth in my personal, professional, and above all, spiritual development. My intuition grows stronger and me more wise in paying attention to its woes.

Through a Future Photo Reflect project started by Justin Pauly, my RY brother, we all took a portrait in our 1st month and in the last month of our program. (Special thanks to Brooke Siem for love and energy in finishing the project with our final month portraits.) I’m able to reflect and examine these portraits, which make all sensations palpable.

Month 1 in Malaysia Sept. ’16 | Month 12 in Argentina Aug. ’17 — photos by Justin Pauly & Brooke Siem, respectively.

From them, I realize a few things. My Remote Year journey and my loving new family taught me how to take care of myself; how to be my own star player and biggest fan. They taught me to love myself; to trust myself and my talents. They helped build my self-esteem. They fortified the confidence, peace and strength within me and in others. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. Nor better people with whom to experience it. I am so blessed.

It’s no coincidence my Remote Year cohort is named Libertatem — latin for freedom. That’s what life's all about, really. We spread our wings, take a leap and truly understand what it means to be free.

Visual representation of our group’s passion, fire, and resilience — designed by moi.
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