My things are packed away in boxes. My car is sold. Two hours ago I said goodbye to my two biggest fans (mom & dad). Now I’m sitting at a Potbelly’s on my layover in Washington D.C. listening to Lord Huron and I’m feeling pretty normal.
Normal isn’t exactly what I expected.
There was one word that popped into my head on my flight from STL to DC: serendipity. By definition, serendipity is simply “good fortune or luck” (thanks Dictionary.com), but I think it’s a bit more than that. Serendipity isn’t just a singular event, I think it’s actually a series of events that, together, lead to one really super awesome moment of “good fortune or luck.” I’m feeling serendipitous.
Let’s rewind a bit.
In December of 2012, I booked a trip on a whim with Under30Experiences. It was ironic how it happened. I got an email about a trip to Costa Rica sponsored by Under30CEO. The focus of the trip was the growth of sustainability in Costa Rica. It looked interesting, but apparently there was an application involved.
Fat chance I would be accepted. The closest thing to “sustainable” in my life was a pair of old mom jeans that I upcycled into high-waisted shorts…
That afternoon, I boarded a bus to Chicago with my college friends to attend a Collegiate Entrepreneurs conference. I was talking to a friend about the Costa Rica trip when Kelsey Meyer, cofounder of Influence & Co, mentioned she knew Matt Wilson, the owner of Under30CEO. She shot him a quick email and she must’ve said something right because my tickets were booked before I left Chicago.
A couple weeks later, I found myself in an airport in Costa Rica, looking for some strangers wearing green shirts. I was toting my cheetah print suitcase. Really Mallory?
In short – the trip was awesome. It was fascinating to learn about the growth of sustainability in Costa Rica, but the long-term value of the trip was in the relationships I built.
I met people who chose to live differently. They were well-traveled AND doing well in their careers. Travel wasn’t a break from life and work, it was chance to let their work be inspired by what they experienced. I wanted that.
Not long after the trip, I told Matt Wilson that I wanted to be location independent in one year. That was 15 months ago. I completely forgot about that conversation until a week ago, actually. But here I am at a Potbelly’s in D.C. about to embark on my first big adventure. ☺
Looking back, there were a lot of serendipitous moments that brought me to where I am. I acquired skills that would allow me to work from anywhere and the opportunities to apply those skills always seemed to pop up at the right time. I made new friends – probably the best friends I’ve ever had. The kind of friends you need in order to keep your sanity through five months of solo travel.
Even in the past month, things fell into place quite nicely. The day I started looking for a subleaser, a friend was moving back to Columbia and needed a place to live. My resignation from work was well-received. I sold my car the day before I left. Tableau, my favorite data nerd tool, is finally releasing a mac version (yup, went there). I could go on and on…
So, perhaps the reason I feel so normal today is because all of the puzzle pieces fit together so perfectly and this is exactly where I feel like I should be. Serendipity.
The weirdest thing of all? Under30Experiences is doing a trip to Macchu Picchu the same time I am in Peru. You bet your bottom dollar I’ll be tagging along.
So thanks Kelsey, for sending that email. Thanks Matt & U30X, for letting this girl on your trip to Costa Rica. Thanks VU for an awesome farewell. Thanks Mom & Dad for being “irresponsibly excited” for my trip. And thanks to my friends and coworkers who threw me way too many going away parties. I blame you all for my extra layer of fluff.