From Empty Inside to Living My Best Life: The Journey of the Black Sheep Traveler
I've always been a bit of a black sheep. I never really fit in with the other kids, and I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. But that didn't stop me from dreaming big.
I saw other kids traveling with their families, and felt such a deep heartache, as I wanted to travel so bad, but I couldn't have it. Well, couldn't have much of... anything.
I dreamed of exploring the world, of traveling to far-off places and seeing all the amazing things that this planet has to offer. Somehow down the line I put my dream aside, focusing on proving myself as much as possible.
I faced my fair share of challenges along the way. I had serious health issues, I was bullied, I experienced never-ending injustice, domestic violence and more. I would like to say that I never gave up on my dreams, but I did. Many times. Despite the fact that I've spent most of my life talking about how I'm special, in reality I'm a normal person, with no extraordinary capabilities, other than being a weirdo.
Obsessed With Career & Empty Inside
I got one foot in the door starting off working in marketing when I was 15, and since the age of 18 I spent almost 10 years of nonstop work, trying to prove myself in marketing, despite not having a degree. Yes, I have only high school degree. I worked hard to become a solid Head of Marketing / CMO. And I did.
For many months I had this one nightmare. I was in a 2-story high-class apartment - it was my home. There were always some guests. I know those people, but they had different faces. And it always got to me, that theres's a 3rd floor below, that I forgot about. I would walk down, see how it's empty, and it would feel kind of disgusting that it's empty. But I'd always get excited about the things I could do with it. And I always forgot about the 3rd floor and continued to discover the emptiness again and again.
When I Quit My Job Being in Mexico
Then on March 2022 when I went on a work trip to Mexico, I ended up quitting my job at Mexico, when I understood that life's too short and I finally need to enjoy it.
And then it got to me - my nightmare. The 2 floors symbolized personal and professional life, while the 3rd floor that was empty, it was something more in life. That I always desired to discover. Fill up the emptiness. Feel fulfilled and full. But always continued to ignore, because it was so hard to deal with it.
But ever since I quit my job in Mexico, I started the journey of filling up the 3rd floor. It's been an exciting process, as you can imagine - putting a lot of mood boards on those imaginery walls, discovering myself again.
How I Got Rid of 90% of My Stuff
I used to have a huge apartment, and it was full with all kinds of things. Too many things. My friends joked that I had a whole shop in my bathroom. When I decided to change my life, we had a party where my friends helped me get rid of my stuff. Then round after a round, I would take my shoes, and divide them between friends and other people. I had like 80+ pairs of shoes. Now in total I might have less than 10. I travel with 3 shoes and 2 flip flops. For someone who used to love stuff, it was very hard to limit myself to few things. And then less and less... Till I was able to reach the amount of 2 suitcases, leaving the bigger one at my grandmas place back in Latvia. And traveling the world with a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.
How I Started Traveling the World & Getting Back Into Business
When I quit my job in Mexico, I didn't have a plan. And I didn't even start looking for a job. I started by living in Canary Islands for a month, then going to Ibiza as an 18-year birthday gift to my little sister.
I've never been good at business. For a very simple reason. Because I've always cared about quality and what's right too much. People who are successful at business, are good at it because they focus on the bottom line - making money, staying in the business and making even more money. I could turn "whatever it takes" attitude, however, I know if I'd do that, I'd feel empty again. And I don't want that.
I've had a couple of little attempts throughout my life. As a little child, I would hustle with some small things, like selling food, services and other things. Then during high school I created a business plan of making Andy Warhol factory style bar where local artists, designers etc. would show performances and more, followed by another business idea of using local artist designs and creations for mass sales. And then one, DIY party platform attempt.
Then around April 2022 someone offered me to join their project - to simplify migration process. It became more and more apparent to me how in this world people are defined by their passport, and how that limits their opportunity to explore the world. To say it felt unfair to me - would be a major understatement. I wanted to fix that. As usual, my dreams were a bit too big. Especially because there's no business in actually helping people.
When to Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy
In the process I had an epic euro trip, traveling around different cities of Europe and going to startup funding and networking events. On my 6am train from Venice to Milano I memorized the faces, names and backgrounds of the event investors. I was scared it wouldn't work. But when I got there, I noticed that I do recognize all of them. However, there was one problem. I wanted to be polite and wait till each of the investors would finish talking with the person they were talking to, however, others would just get in the middle and I would always miss my chance. I felt like I lost before it even started. But I also had watched a few Cobra Kai episodes during that morning. So I told myself and repeated, repeated again: "Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy". And with that attitude, I would get in there, and get a connection after a connection.
How Borderline Crazy Guts Helps You Reach the Sky
During my career, I had many lessons like this. Lessons that showed me that because of my guts I can win. Many years ago when I was like 23 and went to my first networking events San Francisco, I wore flip flops to the first one, and my boss was mad. But tons of people would come up to me and tell me I have guts, and I ended up getting the most connections. So I did the same by wearing conversion starting shirts and more. I had a networking event in Las Vegas, where I set my mind to find all the useful leads. So I would do the unthinkable - skip the chitchat in a crazy way. Would just come up to people and say "Hello, are you buying or selling leads?", and based on what they would answer, I would either wish them good luck or continue the conversation. People appreciated the straightforward approach and the night was a productive success.
Somehow down the line I kept losing this energy of mine, as continuing to work for companies, I would more and more notice how they wouldn't appreciate the energy and dedication that I give to them. And how other people wouldn't give the energy to companies, because it's simply not worth it. I should put this kind of energy and love in my own thing, my own business. Yet, no matter how many times I tried, I failed.
How I Gave Up, Got a Remote Job & Became a Travel Creator
Eventually I gave up, but there was a little parting gift that I got. Initially I started playing around with TikTok to prove to potential investors that I could get organic reach and signups with $0. Which is a pretty big deal for super early stage startups. I never considered that Instagram might be my channel, but then someone stole my video from TikTok and posted on Instagram and got tons of views. So I started posting some of my content on Instagram as well. 2 months in, I got from 200 to around 50K followers. With $0 investment.
At the same time, I started a remote job. I had to create an email marketing service from scratch for an ecommerce agency. My main motivator was the fact that this job was fully remote.
Because for like 9 months, I had been obsessing with Asia. My feeds were full of videos from Thailand. And every time I would imagine getting of the plane in Thailand, I would smile like an idiot and almost cry.
At the same time, I was insanely scared. Traveling solo around Europe felt comfortable to me, it was familiar. Packing my things to travel around Asia without any idea how long would it take (so far 5 months in), was scary, to say the least. And all the concerns that you all write in the comments - saying it's scary, dangerous, boring and so on - I was very scared of that as well. But the need to see the world outweighed the fear. And so I celebrated Valetine's solo in Bangkok. And soon discovered it was the best decision I've ever made.
Figuring Out Who I Want to Be
As I continued traveling around Asia solo, visiting places around Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan, I got to know myself better, and got to become more and more the person I wanted to become.
If 2022 started off with me quitting my job, then middle of 2023 surprised me by losing my job, when I got to Japan. It should have been one of the scariest things in my life, but honestly, despite it being an overwhelming challenge, it also became a blessing. It hurt so deep in my heart that I hadn't been able to figure out my own thing. No matter how many odds were against me, I had to make it happen. And now, without any safety net, I'm doing all my best to make it happen.
Sharing My Experience With My Community
I've been sharing different travel destinations, hacks and solo travel tips with my audience, but after a poll I created in my WhatsApp community (join here), I understood that people want to learn how to earn money remotely as well. Because of that, I'm sharing all the ways how I try, fail and win to earn money remotely. Having you all with me in this journey helps me stay strong and show how you can explore the world too. I strongly believe that travel should be a human right, and that no human should be defined by their passport. I'm going to do my best to help people travel the world, make travel easier, more accessible, warn about different scams or travel problems, show how you can travel solo and on a budget, how normal people can earn money remotely too, and a lot more. Check out my resources to learn more about travel and making money remotely. Stay tuned for more, and have a lovely day.
Best regards, Agatha Catchrain