After a year of traveling around the Philippines and Southeast Asia, the day of going back to work has come. A part of me feels that I failed in becoming a full-time freelancer. When I quit my job last September, my main goal was to leave the corporate world. Though I didn’t burn bridges, I really hoped that I would never go back.
It was January 22, 2017. I was about to leave Hanoi when I faced a dilemma. A big part of me was convincing me to stay and not go back to the Philippines yet. There were teaching opportunities in Vietnam, but I didn’t know where to start. I was planning to ditch my flight and see how my life would go on in Vietnam.
I wasn’t afraid to live alone in the place where I stayed for weeks. I was afraid that I couldn’t find a job right away and that my savings wouldn’t be enough to cover another month’s worth of expenses. Traveling for the past 5 months without a stable income was scary.
I was traveling without insurance, or salary every 15th and 30th of the month, or a client to work for. It was scary. That was how I lived my life. And I didn’t want to continue living my life like that. So, with a heavy heart, I rode a bus to the airport and left Hanoi.
I was determined to look for a job as soon as I got back to the Philippines. It was time to set aside traveling for a while. I updated my JobStreet profile, sent copies of my resume to my friends for referrals, took exams and attended interviews. I failed some interviews. I passed others, but I declined the offers.
When February came, I started feeling bad because I was living on my savings. There was not a single client, no extra income, and my budget was nearly zero. Why couldn’t I find a job that I wanted? I was getting frustrated and decided that maybe, the corporate world wasn’t ready for me, so I booked a ticket back to Thailand and thought I was destined to be out of the country.
Everything was set until one day, I received a call from a company that I had been waiting for a month to call me. It was Ernst and Young. I knew how big the company, and the compensation and benefits were. It’s hard to find that kind of opportunity nowadays.
They invited for an interview and I can remember the words I told to the recruiter over the phone. “Why did it take you so long to call me? I’ve been waiting for your call for the past month. I really would love to work for E.Y. However, I already booked my flight out of the country and will probably be gone for 2 months.”
The recruiter said, “Maybe you still want to give it a try, and if you pass let’s try to negotiate your start date.” I said okay. I went to their office, attended interviews, and I passed.
I was set to leave Manila on the first week of March, and I only had a few days to decide. Should I go back to Thailand, or grab the offer in Manila? If I went back to traveling, I would have my last shot to continue my dream of working while traveling, but I would lose my opportunity to work for E.Y. I asked the recruitment team if it was possible to start on the second week of May once I came back to Manila. I would report to the office right away. Unfortunately, the training date would start on the first week of May. With heaviness in my heart, I flew back to Thailand to continue my dream and pursue my main goal.
Everything went well in Thailand, and I started processing my visa before going back to Manila. I decided that when I go back to Thailand in July, I would stay for a year to study the language and culture, focus on my blog, and look for sources of income. That was the plan, and I was thankful to my Thai friends for helping me plan everything.
Then in mid-May, for no reason at all, I decided to open my personal email–the one I used for my job hunt. I saw an email from EY which was sent 2 weeks before, asking me to call or email them if I were still interested in working with them. They needed someone to fill a vacancy and could start on June 5. That was around 2 more weeks. I was shaking and I didn’t know what to reply. The idea of working with the company was no longer in my mind, because I already let it go before.
I replied and told the recruitment team to update me if the position was still available. I would grab the offer. I was no longer hopeful though. Two weeks had passed before I replied to their email. I was sure they already found someone. After 5 minutes, I received a call from them telling me that the same position that I applied for was still open. I told them, “I can’t believe that I will still have this job, I can’t believe that I will still work with you.” They said, “You’re really meant for this job. You see, after a few months, they still opened this post and we haven’t found someone to fill it. This is destined for you.”
When I met Jannica, the girl from the recruitment team who assisted me last February, we couldn’t help being amazed that that day would come. Who would have thought that after I let go of the job 3 months ago, I would still be signing the job offer? As expected, the package was reasonable for me to stay in the country and go back to the corporate world.
In an instant, I had a change of plan. I was melancholic to inform my Thai friends that I would no longer go back to Thailand as was initially planned. Although it was heartbreaking, I’m glad that they have been supportive.
A few days before I started working, I was worried. Gone are the days that I could sleep for as long as I wanted. I would no longer be the boss of my own time. There were many things running on my mind. How would it feel to work for 8 hours a day again? Build a relationship with a new set of people? Would it be hard to hit my matrix? Would I make it this time? Was I ready to go back to the world I wish I would never live in again?
It was not an easy decision to turn my life 180 degrees. It was as hard as when I decided to quit my job to travel. But there were many realizations for the past year of traveling. Technically, I failed to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time freelancer and accepted it was not easy. But I believe that regardless of how badly we want something and thought that it’s the best for us, if the universe says no, we can’t have it. Start believing and trusting that you’re meant for something bigger instead of questioning why you didn’t make it.
Here’s an article on what I learned from my long term traveling.