After five long years of college, internships and extracurricular activities I had finally done it; I was graduating with my a Master’s Degree in Communication. If I was like anyone else I would have accepted the job offer to do marketing at the nonprofit near my house, or the Media Buyer position at one of the top advertising companies in Manhattan.
But I’m not like everyone else. Instead, I chose to follow my passions of travel and writing, verse using my degree to get a 9-5 “real job.”
Growing up, my family traveled via USA road trips and Caribbean cruises, which I’m very thankful for. When I turned 20 I went on my first big overseas trip to Australia for study abroad.
It’s hard to put the experience into words, or at least what it meant to me. Everyday was an adventure. I loved going to work at the pizza place near my apartment, and my internship writing neighborhood guides for a local magazine meant I was constantly exploring. Everything from seeing my first kangaroo on a camping trip to flushing the toilet to see the water swirl the other way was fascinating. I was in a constant state of wonder; a feeling I never wanted to stop feeling.
Needless to say, I became hooked on travel. From this study abroad semester came countless other trips: hiking my way through China, doing a homestay in Ghana, volunteering in Thailand, having a short-lived romance in Amsterdam, bussing my way through South America.
I had some truly amazing experiences, but the question was, how could I turn it into a career?
Follow Your Dreams
I started researching potential travel jobs, and stumbled upon something I’d never heard of: travel blogging. Now, this wasn’t famous guidebook writers and TV personalities documenting their experiences, but everyday people like me. Better yet, they were earning an income through their websites.
I can do this! I thought, my palms literally sweating with excitement. And there, Jessie on a Journey was born. Originally she was a tiny confused Blogger platform full of awkward journal entries, though she gradually developed into the professional blog business she is today.
While in the beginning I waitressed on the side for income, today I’m able to live full-time off my travel writing. Sounds like a dream job, literally getting paid to travel the world, right? Although it is my dream job — albeit a very demanding one — close friends and family kept hoping it was a phase I would grow out of.
To my mother it wasn’t a real career, and to my father it was dangerous, as I was constantly on the road going to foreign places. Close friends worried when it would give me time to settle down with a husband and a family. They worried I was living an immature lifestyle that wasn’t logical for a “real adult.”
I couldn’t help but feel confused. I was happy. I was earning money. I was my own #girlboss. I was having enriching life experiences. But I was immature because I wasn’t getting a traditional 9-to-5 job and buying a house by 30?
After seven years of blogging for a living, family and friends have become accepting of my lifestyle, especially as I now do have a serious boyfriend whom I live with, in the beautiful apartment we pay for in NYC. Because yes, I earn an income — something people find hard to believe. And yes, just because I travel for a living doesn’t mean I can’t also have a relationship.
Blogging has certainly become a less scoffed at career since I started in 2011. Which is great, because there are now more ways than ever to earn an income. I’m so glad I turned my head away from the criticism I received when starting out. The truth is, if I weren’t travel blogging I don’t know what I would be doing. Likely, I wouldn’t be half as happy.
You only live once. To make it worthwhile you’ve got to do what you’re passionate about, even if it means going against societal norms and doing what’s best for you.
I have many friends working corporate jobs that don’t fulfill them. They work five long days a week —sometimes weekends — and complain how unhappy they are. They tell me how they hate their bosses, how their ideas are stifled and how they don’t feel they’re contributing to society. When I tell them they should follow their real passions, they shrug and shake their heads like they have no choice in the matter.
I beg to differ. Listen, if you truly want something — so badly you can picture it as if it’s real — it will happen. You just need that drive to get yourself there.
I’m not saying it won’t take time, and I’m not saying you won’t have to keep your day job while you get the ball rolling. A positive attitude and confidence in your goals — even they go against society’s road map — are your essential foundation.
Have you ever followed your dreams and made them a reality? Can you think of a time when you went against societal norms to make something happen? Please share in the comments below.
Featured image via JenavieveMarie
How To Start A Travel Blog [Resources]
The 4-Hour Workweek [Great Reads]
Start Your Own Business: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need [Essential Guide]