As I sit here, ready to board my flight to South Africa, I can’t help but pinch myself. If you told me 5 years ago that I would be taking this trip, I would have laughed. I would have reminded you that post-secondary education has left me $40,000 in debt, or that the idea of travelling outside of North America was just a dream.
Tonight upon going through old blog posts, I have come to the realization that there is no way I would be here if I didn’t make some difficult, but important life decisions; and one of the important ones was learning to take risks.
I’ve always been a pretty adventurous person. Heck, I used to be a Figure Skater where I put my trust in a teenage boy to throw me in the air in hopes that I wouldn’t land on the cold, hard ice below. But that’s not the kind of risk I’m getting at here.I’m talking about the risks that truly force you to grow, the ones that are the most uncomfortable to do, often because the outcome is unknown or downright scary.
Where it All Started
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a workoholic. When I wasn’t working on a television set, I was taking classes to learn a new skill or working a side job in a tea shop. But I was in a good place. All that work ethic had led me to advance in the television industry. The more contacts I made on different sets, the more opportunities came my way.
When University was over, I landed a full-time job at MTV Canada and really loved it. But something wasn’t right. There was this feeling at the pit of my stomach that told me something was missing. I knew I had more in me, but I didn’t know yet what it was. So one day, out of the blue, I found a great deal on a flight to Australia. As cheap as it was, I still didn’t have enough money on my credit card to buy it. So I called my sister Jessica and asked her to put in on her card with the promise I would pay her back every penny over the course of the next two weeks.
Before I knew it, I had a flight itinerary sitting in my inbox.
I had no plans, no visa, and certainly no money to travel within Australia, but I still went for it. I quit my job at MTV, applied for a holiday work visa, and before I knew it was flying solo to the land down under.
That’s when life got real. I had to find a job, a place to live, a phone, etc etc and at times I sat there questioning my decision. But whenever I was stressed, I started to write. I had started my blog a couple years prior to my trip when I was in University, so decided to keep the momentum going with updates from my travels. Before I knew it, I was Travel Blogging. A term that really didn’t even exist at the time.
Starting Something New
When I returned, I felt the need to connect with other people who were part of this new ‘travel blogging’ industry, but I discovered there was no real established community (at least not in Toronto). So I started one. And I’m not going to lie, I put in a lot of hours searching people online, connecting with people offline, and organizing monthly events.
There was no monetary compensation, but I didn’t care. I was getting so much more out of it that money could never buy. Fours years later, the community is bigger, and better than I could have ever imagined and it’s now been taken to a global level which I am honoured to be part of . I now sit on the Board of Directors for the Travel Massive which has officially become incorporated.
When the Stars Aligned
While connecting with people in the travel industry, I soon discovered a job opportunity with a Travel Agency called Flight Centre. It was a new role as a Social Media Specialist and the prospect that I would be the guinea pig of a new position excited me. Over the years I was able to pitch ideas, take risks and have full support from a Marketing team and a brand that believed (and still believes) in what I do. While continuing to manage my personal blog on the side, I also got invited to a lot of events hosted by PR companies, where I met a woman named Amrita. Known as the Frugalista, Amrita was also a Producer on the Steven and Chris show. After the event, she reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in being a guest on their show to talk about travel. I jumped at the opportunity and am now a regular guest on their show talking about my love for travel and how others can experience it too.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have to sacrifice my time (both with family, relationships, and friends) to be where I am. Despite working a full-time job, I would come home at night and continue working on my blog, learning new video editing skills, or researching the latest trends in Social Media and travel. The more work I did, and the more I put myself out there, the more companies started to take notice and that became my fuel to keep going. Suddenly, my blog which I thought was just being read by family and friends, was being read by complete strangers.
I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to receive emails from people who tell me I’m an inspiration to them. In a way it forces you to stop being so self-centered, and more aware of the energy you put out to the universe. I knew that some of my best work, and best ideas came from times when I felt truly inspired. So I cut a lot of things out of my life that weren’t meeting those needs. I took the 100 Things Challenge and learned a good lesson that material possessions aren’t important. I also started spending less time with people who were toxic, and more time with people that inspired and challenged me.
I know I still have so much growth, travel, and experiences ahead of me and it’s become my motivation to be better; To objectively look at my past, and take from it the lessons to apply to my future. But the one consistent thing that stands out time and time again, is the fact that nothing good ever comes from playing it safe. Standing up, standing out, and truly taking the kind of risks that give you butterflies… well that my friends, is what life is all about.