The following is a guest post from Kaiya Waddell, Industry Manager for Democratic Politics at Facebook & Instagram:
Right before I got married I spent ten days with my future in-laws in Bogota, Colombia. I’d been down to visit many times before with my husband, but never gone solo and certainly never been there in a pre-wedding mindset. My schedule was jam packed with wedding related appointments and I’d arranged to work out of my company’s small Bogota office. A few months prior, I started taking Spanish lessons in NY (btw - it’s brutal learning as an adult) and so I was determined to really live and work for that week in South America.
I got up in the morning and went the gym with my mother-in-law. I struggled through rapid fire Spanish-only spin classes and hilarious mime-like personal training sessions. I entered into a daily debate with my in-laws about my transport to work – I wanted to take a cab to the office in order to practice my Spanish with strangers and they were determined to drive me (lets be honest, they wouldn’t be Latin family if they didn’t fight me on that stuff). After my promises of Spanish fluency and many grandchildren one day, I prevailed and was able to grab an uber every morning.
It was on my long ride to work that things got real.
On the one hand, it was 8:40am and I was somehow already exhausted from all things foreign. The complete panic of not being able to communicate or function independently sat right below my surface smile and attempts to be a level headed professional. Every little activity or interaction took focus and work.
On the other hand, I was like, ”WHAAAAAAA?! Is this my amazing jet-setting life now?” I’d always wanted to live abroad and I felt chic, kinda rich (for the first time ever), and as if I was living my best life.
I was tapping into a part of myself that couldn’t be reached through my familiar routine or community. That tension, between the exhilarating unknown and being stripped of your comforts, has been a game changer in my work.
I now understand that when I’m uncomfortable and challenged I’m forced to prioritize and work through it. I try to push myself through nervousness or anxiety for the sake of growth (and try to maintain the perspective that anxiety is normal, but not a particularly productive reaction). Applying some structure to my Colombia trip allowed me to reimagine my work and the possibilities for my life. Normally, I travel to unplug and detach. I want to sit on a beach with no schedule, with an easy read drinking mojitos. While those trips are 100% necessary, taking your “normal life” abroad requires something different.
I still live happily in New York City with my husband, where much of my life is comfortable and familiar (and my Spanish is still pretty terrible).
But those ten days, along with other trips I’ve taken over the years has made me more intentional about my career planning and much better at silencing my inner voice of doubt when presented with bold and ambitious opportunities.
Ready for your own adventure? Excited to stretch your comfort zone? Check out Pivot Journeys upcoming trips for opportunities that will help you take the next step in your career while having an awesome adventure!