So you’ve finished four years of university and logically the next step is to land that 9–5 job your degree enables you to have, right?

But what if you don’t want to fall prey to the path society has created for us all? Or what if you did and you loved it but now you’re ready to stick it to the man work for yourself?

That was my dilemma too.

From the beginning, I had a different approach to education. In high school, I excelled without difficulty in addition to playing volleyball and basketball, and being a wildly passionate thespian, all while maintaining a part-time job. Most importantly, I never missed a party. 😉

After high school, I coasted my way into a university industrial design program and ended up switching my degree to urban Planning within the first year.

For me, schooling was just one part of who I was. I didn’t let myself be defined by my education and I didn’t let it take over my life, but I knew it was important to continually invest in myself. After my first year, I had the opportunity to study abroad in France—did someone say wine & cheese??

I met two of my best friends who, to this day, still challenge and inspire me, as we all continue to passionately explore new parts of the world together and apart.

You see, I used the rest of my college experience as a vessel to expand as far and wide as I could. I worked full-time through my degree at lululemon, shaping my mindset to achieve the things I wanted—notably traveling.

I worked as often as possible to save money to get back on the next plane. I backpacked southeast Asia, studied in Vancouver and Brazil, and spent time enjoying those around me, continuing to fuel my passion.

I met people from all over the world and all stages in life and connected with them indescribably. I knew I was a connector and that building an international community was the right path for me.

Finally, after finishing my last semester of school, it was over. For the first time in my life, I had no direction to follow and as society dictates, it was about that time to get a job. But I didn’t.

Instead, I took to backpacking South and Central America, falling in love with a small surf town in Nicaragua.

When my six months of fun was over, I came back home to settle into “real life.” I applied for adult jobs with 14 days vacation and benefits and even worked at them, but wasn’t satisfied knowing there were ways out there to live the life I wanted, where I wanted, learning more than I ever could at a desk.

I thought, maybe I wasn’t destined to fit into the mold I’m supposed to? Maybe finishing high school, university, working a 9–5 with weekends at the lake until I’m ready to settle down wasn’t my path?

So I changed it.

I booked a huge mistake, red flags, no plan, one way ticket straight back to Nicaragua and I said I would make it work. I spent my days by the beach in the sun surrounded by people I love, eating the freshest of tropical fruits and learning something new everyday thinking, “I want this forever. How will I get it? How will I set myself up?”

I did it all folks, every possible way to make money online, I tried it. I taught English (for those of you who know, you know), I transcribed, I wrote university papers for Australian students, I summarized articles for old professors, I even briefly thought pyramid schemes were the answer.

I did alright. I made money, the same I did working full-time in Canada—but I wasn’t connecting, and my passion wasn’t being fulfilled.

This is when I decided to take what I was good at and go freelance and let me tell you, zero regrets. I wanted to connect. I reached out to every single company online I could find in the history of ever, sending my resume while maintaining my writing business on the side ensuring that students around the world were getting A+’s in their uni courses.

Finally, after almost a year of ups and downs on planes and trains, waves and wild horses, I was steadily working as a freelancer!

It hit me one day when the paycheck came and I thought to myself, I wanted this life and I fought hard to get it. I developed myself and I developed my skills and I’ve been able to connect with more people than ever before. My life is my own, I can go for coffee with friends at 9:30 am, I can make it to great grandma’s 90th birthday and I don’t have to check my work schedule before committing to wine night.

Every project I work on I am passionate about, and I am continuously learning something new. My business has grown into something I could have never imagined and my connections are stronger and deeper than ever.

It wasn’t easy, it was HARD, there was lots of crying and lots of falling down, but most importantly there was lots of getting up.

There was lots of crying and lots of falling down, but most importantly there was lots of getting up. 🚀

The moral of this story

It’s okay not to know what’s next and to feel lost even when you know what your next step is “supposed” to be. It’s okay to try new things and fail. It’s okay to fall in love with the wrong person and to go on six-month vacations twice a year.

Every small thing happens in order to lead you to something else. I am a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get there, even if you have to knock down a maze of red flags to find the green one.

I wish there had been a school like GigLoft around when I was breaking into freelance and suffering from post-grad blues.

Having a supportive network of people in the same situation as me who were also learning the skills they needed to be successful, profitable freelancers. That’s what GigLoft does—we find those people who are afraid to make the leap to freelance on their own, and we ease them into the freelance world with the support, community, learnings, and motivation needed to push harder, find more clients and keep going.

One day, you too can be laying in a hammock at arm’s length from the Pacific, while getting paid to be passionate.

One day, this can be just another Thursday morning for you.

Play hard. Work harder. Balance hardest.