Storytime! Meet Rūta. She always loved traveling and exploring new places. But the feeling that something was missing from her life did not let her rest. After going through a long list of excuses, she decided to take a break from her career and figure out what she wanted from her future.
And now Her friends describe her as „living on a suitcase“ or „do you even work at all“. Want to know why? Read her story.
Tell us your story.
Hi, I’m Rūta. My friends would describe me as “living on a suitcase” or “do you even work at all?”. It is probably down to the fact that the only moments from my life I share on social media are from my trips or time with friends. Although, I think all of us like to share the fun stuff only.
Either way, let’s start from the beginning of how I got here. I moved to London straight after finishing high school in Lithuania. Graduated with my BA in Advertising and Marketing course and started building career in a corporate environment. Anyone who worked in London probably knows how competitive the job industry is and sometimes it requires you to put your personal life aside to build a career.
I was blessed to meet some amazing people during my time in London who had beautiful travel stories to share. I was always impressed by my female friends telling stories about their solo travel adventures and thought I would never be able to do it myself. Traveling further than Europe was a dream that I always had an excuse to postpone, also, shorter trips around Europe fed my need to discover new places for quite a while.
I always loved traveling and exploring new places. I would say I probably traveled more than an average person, city getaways, short weekends at the beach, etc. but the feeling that I was missing something did not stop. After going through the long list of excuses I decided that I need to just take that risk and take a break from my career; to figure out what I wanted for my future.
So on one random summer afternoon, I booked a return ticket to Thailand with my friend for a three months trip. Funny enough life had a different plan for me and just a month before the trip my friendship ended and I realized that, if I want to go, I will have to do it on my own. I was hesitant but decided to go and on January 2020 I started the biggest journey of my life leaving my job, friends, and the past eight years packed in boxes.
My trip ended up being way more than three months. Covid started and I was not done with my journey exploring Asia and also the journey of self-development. In March I booked my one-way ticket to the place that was still allowing tourists in, Indonesia, with the hope that it will only be a couple of months there whilst everything calms down and I will be able to resume my journey around Asia. Two months ended up being eighteen months.
Covid was the worst time for a lot of people but for those who were stuck in Bali, it was a blessing. We had space and time to reflect on ourselves, explore the beautiful nature, enjoy empty beaches, and get to know local people, unfortunately, we also witnessed the sad reality of poverty and struggle.
What did your life look like before? Why did you decide to change it?
I had a stable 9 to 5 job in an office. Enjoyed short trips with friends and family. In short, I lived a regular life in London but I was also burned out from my work, felt uninspired, and was dealing with a lot of anxiety. I started realizing that living like this was not good enough. Anxiety about my career not picking up fast enough and other people doing better than me took over my life and I decided that I have to take a break to figure out what my path in life will be.
The biggest lessons you learned on the trip. What did you understand about yourself?
This journey taught me more than I could’ve asked for. First of all, it helped me to overcome my fears of being alone. I have met some of the most amazing people from all over the world who made me feel at home anywhere I went. I also learned that material possessions do not bring us happiness. It only gives us short-term joy but it also fades quickly. I learned how important is to find joy in small things, people, and yourself. I realized that maybe I was too harsh on myself with the expectations placed on me by society and most importantly I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Maybe you found yourself different from when you always thought?
I changed so much during this time. I learned how to listen to my inner voice and sometimes shut down the side noise of the world. I also learned that all those things I was working so hard for in London did not mean anything to me. I found my biggest love in life – the Ocean. I was always drawn to the water but never thought that it will become my safe space. I learned that I can love people deeply and it is ok when they do not need that love, because it does not depend on me. I accepted that life brings us joy and tough times just to make us stronger and teach us valuable lessons.
If you would do everything from the beginning, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would change anything about it. It was a blessing in disguise that I went on this journey alone. In a lot of situations, I had to get out of my comfort zone and that helped me grow as a person and work through my anxiety.
If someone is secretly dreaming about the lifestyle you are living now, what would you tell them?
My only advice would be to just do it. Do not let fear stop you from living your dreams. If it is a short trip in Europe, backpacking through Asia, or just a career change, just do it. Life is too short to miss opportunities so live your dreams.
Was it scary to go on the adventure of a lifetime?
It was one of the scariest things I have done in my life. Firstly, traveling alone and then deciding to stay in Asia during the pandemic. Uncertainty was always there but I chose to believe that what is meant to happen will happen and I will be ok. At first, I was scared and unsure but with every day it became more clear that I was there for a reason
Living the way you live. What was the hardest thing in this whole experience?
One of the biggest breaking points that came to me somewhere halfway through my time in Bali was that life there was not enough. I missed my family, friends, career, and having a team to work with face to face. This was one of the reasons that made me leave Bali. I could not come back to my London life so I moved back to Lithuania and luckily found a team that currently brings me joy. After eighteen months in Asia, it was hard to adapt to European office life. I was constantly torn between going back to Bali or staying in my new 9 to 5 job. And then the miracle happened. I realized that I do not have to choose one or the other. I could have them both. I am blessed with a team and management that appreciates me and my needs, so after the first eight months in the company, I went back to Bali to work remotely from there. Now I am back in Europe with my team working on some exciting projects. I realized that I do not need to sacrifice my dream of surfing waves for a few months a year to ensure that I achieve something in my career. And choosing one thing over the other would have never brought me real happiness. It is the balance I am trying to find today.
What would you suggest for people dreaming about this lifestyle? What are the first steps in preparation?
First of all, figure out if it is really for you. No one tells you but once you start traveling long-term your perspective of home shifts. Everywhere and nowhere could feel like home at the same time. But if you feel like you are ready to become that citizen of the world, first find what that balance is for you. Maybe it is only a couple of months a year working remotely, or maybe it is six months, and then speak with your employer about the possibilities they have for that. If not, find an employer who will appreciate how important your goals and dreams are and prove to them that you could do your best work from anywhere in the world. Discipline, planning, and respect are the key aspects that allowed me to build that trust with my team and to be able to work remotely for extended periods.
What are your next steps Is there any adventure you are planning?
Now I am in an office most of the days working with my team, enjoying European summer, time with my family, and of course traveling around. I have had a chance to visit some new places this summer and learn new things about myself too. My next adventure will probably start next year when I pack my bags to go back to Bali for some waves, amazing food, people, and more self-learning.
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