Like sand on a desert, waves in the ocean, 2018 has been a year of going with the flow.

If you had asked me where I was going with my life at the start of this year, I would have shrugged and said, “I don’t know.” My dad never failed to remind me that my time is limited, and the realities of growing up.

Like raindrops to the ground, or opposing poles that attracted, one thing was certain – I was moving in the direction of happiness. Blinded as I was about where exactly I’m going, I’d always been itchy for some kind of adventure. A life that I would never imagine myself having.

Quarter-life crisis

girl wood balance tree nuuksio national park, finland

Because of where this flow has led me, I’d trusted my gut enough to quit my full-time job exactly one year ago and pursue a working holiday in New Zealand from Dec 2017 to April 2018, a decision that would turn out to be one of my pivotal moments in life.

I thought I was bold enough to leave everything – my responsibilities, adulting, my family and friends. Because of that first step into the foray of uncertainty, of the unknown, of unpredictability, of adaptability, of a different climate, a different culture, I realised I didn’t want life to ever be the same… and it never has since.

At 24, that choice was everything I needed and wanted – working and living in another environment, starting afresh, leaving an office job, having the chance to be who I never was. Quarter-life crisis, some might say.

Striking out on my own

Surviving that working holiday experience gave me the courage to take the second most important decision of the year – to go full-time and make a living on my own terms.

If you know me, you’d know that I’ve always been prudent with money, working part-time in school and saving up for my 6-month student exchange trip in Europe.

After calculating my projected earnings, I knew I was able to live on my own outside of Singapore. Given the circumstances then, I started to work remotely in Japan between my travels (June to August 2018, November to January 2019).

sunflower field japan girl

Chasing sunflowers in Japan

I diligently kept to my expenses and earnings, vowing to put in at least 8 hours of work each day. You have no idea how much work that goes into maintaining and growing the blog that sometimes even 8 hours a day isn’t enough.

Victory moment

What came as a surprise was how I would be earning even more than what my full-time job got me in my first month. It was a victory moment!

If you’d ask me what my greatest accomplishment is this year, it’ll be achieving this dream of being able to live off a blog, knowing that your income stream is stable – not waiting for brand after brand to endorse you. Knowing that what you’re earning comes from the very seed you planted gives a complete sense of fulfilment – the kind I would never get had I been working for someone else.

6 months in, and I’ve already had months when I was earning almost double of a full-time salaried fresh graduate. (Has it been 6 months already?!)

girl walk woods helsinki nuuksio national park, finland

The freedom to work for yourself anywhere, watching the little seed you planted germinate and bloom, the opportunities to work with international brands, travelling opportunities, being in control of your time, knowing that you reap exactly what you sow… how can I be ready to work full-time for someone else?

I’ve now been able to devote more time to do the things I enjoy doing, such as…

Discovering old, cute streets.

pastel colour cobbled streets tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Yoga.

yoga girl allas sea pool helsinki, finland

Allas Sea Pool, Helsinki, Finland

Taking photo walks.

Chase sunsets.

girl hut nuuksio national park, finland

Nuuksio National Park, Finland

sunset nuuksio national park, finland

Sunset at Nuuksio National Park, Finland

Pick leaves at autumn.

autumn leaves girl, Seurasaari open air museum helsinki, finland

Seurasaari Open Air Museum, Helsinki, Finland

While money is a huge motivator to keep me and the blog going, it ultimately isn’t what I have this blog for.

Come 2019, with the recent assignments that I just signed on, there will come changes in my work base and tweaks in the blog’s direction. For one, I hope to breathe more life into my articles, be more personable, and also expand the BATW team.

More on that on the next post I write: 2018 In Review; Being my own boss, living abroad, personal growth

You should enjoy the little detours in life to the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want. – Ging Freecss

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Isabel Leong

Isabel Leong

An explorer at heart, the world is Isabel's playground. She enjoys seizing every moment exploring every hideout and doing the unimaginable, like bungee jumping in Phuket and couchsurfing in Europe. If she had wings, she’d definitely be soaring right now. Also a fitness trainer, if she’s not at the gym, you can find her doing yoga or rock climbing! Read more about her on belaroundtheworld.com/about.

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