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Member Spotlight – Andreia

I’ve started writing this article a few times and I always stopped, and put it aside. Because every time I wanted to share my story, my impostor syndrome was kicking in.

“Who do you think you are, Andreia, to tell your story?” Since I changed my life, this is the constant question that is popping out of my head, a sense of guilt, of not deserving everything I’ve achieved in life. (As if everything I have accomplished and done in my life just fell from the sky.)

female travel
Swimming in my happy spot just outside the building where I live.

Writing this helps me acknowledge my journey and my story.

My first version of this text was dark. I focused a lot on trying to describe the moment when I hit refresh, to isolate an event in a place and time which made me say stop and start over.

I wrote about moving to a big city (London) and leaving behind a perfect life in the coziest town on earth, Gothenburg, Sweden. I described my first months in London, I wrote about depression, about the struggle to fit in, in a place I never belonged where I wasted my energy to find a job I would dislike.

Writing about all this made me realize that my refresh started a long, long time ago. It wasn’t when I moved to London, that moment only triggered the process of change.

It all started when I went to university, when I got my first job, when I started to travel more. Since then, I basically prepared myself for these times, but I had no idea. In my previous life, I only remember how overwhelmed I was feeling trying to follow the crowd and fit in the social norms.

To understand my background, this is the mindset I was raised with, which maybe familiar to many of you:

– go to school

– get good grades

– get a good job

– have a nice home

– go on vacation as often as you can

– and only then dare to follow your dreams when you retire, or in any case much later than now

And this is precisely what I did, step by step (except the retirement). I followed the framework and implemented it to the last detail.

female travel
Jumping on a sea of clouds on Mount Teide

It’s not all bad, and thanks to this “framework” I learned what hard work means. At the same time, this mindset is exactly what held me back from being who I really want to be and how I want to live my life.

Instead of changing schools, jobs, cities, or friends I didn’t enjoy, I kept on going because that was what everyone around me was doing. And because it shouldn’t be simple and everyone struggles anyway, so why should it be easier for me? In the end I managed to break the pattern, and because it was a bit later down the road, I was paying a bigger price of course.

Autumn 2015 my partner and I moved to London for his job. The job offer came out of nowhere, and it was good, at least in theory. We thought that everything happens for a reason, so why not take the opportunity. And indeed, everything happens for a reason!

What we thought to be an exciting move and great career opportunities for both of us, ended up being the hardest times of our adult lives. We got help with everything during the transition, we didn’t miss anything, we had money, benefits, and yet we didn’t feel any pleasure of living this life. He never enjoyed the work for which we moved there. I was not feeling well, and during the first six months, I was struggling with the darkest times of my life.

During these times, my support system was mainly my partner, who was beside me all along. I sought help when I needed and I surrounded myself with people like me. I dedicated my time to nurture my creativity and bring to light skills I thought I didn’t have. I took my time to learn new things, to live new experiences, to create new habits.

female travel
Getting lost in the forests of La Gomera, Canary Islands.

I’ve learned that our lives and especially our careers are not ladders or mountains to be climbed. Upwards is not the only way to progress! We can take a step back, we can go sideways and try out new things, we can even stop for a while and reflect.

Looking back, I know that as hard as this change was in my life, it was the best decision ever. Because otherwise, I probably would have been stuck in a good job, doing the same things every day and living for my 30 days of vacation.

Autumn 2016 we were all packed and leaving on a one-way ticket to the island of Tenerife, Spain. It was a place we had never been to and where we didn’t know anyone. We needed time to heal, to reconnect with each other and with ourselves.

The six months that followed were the most intense and beautiful months we can remember. We went back to simplicity and the basics – waking up without an alarm in the mornings, eating fresh food (a lot of food!), swimming in the ocean and hiking the mountains. We slowed down and enjoyed life as it is, simple.

female travel
The sunset from my balcony.

If you reached this point in my story, you might think that my refresh is somewhere in these lines – she moved to London, she didn’t like it, she moved to an island, life is good. It’s not. Moving to a paradise island was just a circumstance, but not the refresh.

The refresh came in the form of

– creating a whole new set of values and life priorities

– defining what success means to me

– setting new goals

– living a whole new lifestyle

I made more money before, I traveled, I went shopping, I went out more often, I owned more things!  However, it is now that I feel abundance and wealth. It is now when I consider myself the richest I’ve ever been. I also feel more alive than I’ve ever been! I’m 34 now, and I feel younger than I was feeling at 27.

Wealth and abundance doesn’t come in the material things, a job title or a status, they come with freedom. The freedom to create my day exactly as I wish, to put my time and energy in work that truly matters to me, to wake up when my body is feeling rested. No worries, I wake up quite early, and I work more than ever, although often it doesn’t feel like work.

I still have a long road ahead, I still need to deal with fears, resistance (they will never go away, they only change), I need to grow a business, I need to get myself more often out of my comfort zone, and I still need to learn how to stop paying attention to judgemental people. Yes, there’s so much more to this adventure, as you can see! But it’s so worth it!

I know that now I am equipped to walk this long road because the hardest steps have already been taken.

female travel
Exploring the Anaga Mountains on Tenerife, Canary Islands

For my generation, retirement might never come, and that’s okay. But then we should be creating work we are willing to do for the rest of our lives and start living our dreams now. I wake up every day with only two things on my mind: to build a beautiful business and to lead a beautiful life. Well, these two things generate huge daily to-do lists, so I’m quite busy!

Get in touch with Andreia on her website and follow her on Facebook at Andreia Olaru Digital or on Instagram at Andreia Olaru  

Member Spotlight highlights stories of inspiring women from our She Hit Refresh community. We hope that by sharing their stories of change and travel we can expose the unconventional paths that thousands of women 30 years and older have chosen.  There is no one way to live a life, just your way.

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  1. Pingback: Start simple, scale later » Andreia Olaru - Digital Strategist

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