A few months ago I sat down for some tea and talking with the brains behind the blog and brand Salt Gypsy. The following is a part of an interview series, all from our meetup, about landing the job, living your dream, and following your passion.
So Danielle, you are a New Zealand native, a former Maldives surf guide and now a Bali resident. What is the attitude in New Zealand towards those living abroad?
“We come from a cultural history of Europeans coming over to New Zealand to start fresh, with a bit of a pioneering spirit. I’m a child of the 80’s and grew up with the self-esteem movement. The world is my oyster! Go forth little child and see the world. We have an OE, or Overseas Experience, it is a much-anticipated trip after attending university. Many go and never return. It is very much ingrained in us Kiwis to go on and travel.
I believe massive cultural differences help you grow, learn and figure out how to take care of yourself. There is a shift happening, you can work and live anywhere you’d like.”
You are living proof that you can work and live anywhere. How did you end up in the Maldives?
“I was living in Auckland, NZ in March of 2010. After a heartbreak by my former boyfriend and nearing the end of my job with Billabong, I went on a girls surf trip to clear my head. I had an amazing weekend with some really cool women. In a real funky head space, I met this couple on their honeymoon, Californian Amy, and British Rich. They met in the Maldives six months earlier as surf guides, a real whirlwind romance and fairytale story. We got along really well, as they told me about their lives as surf guides in the Maldives and I knew they were living my dream: being paid to surf in the tropics.
They told me there was a possible job on their island to the Maldives so I said YES! What’s holding me back? Why would I say no to an opportunity to live out my dream in the tropics? So there it was… a one way ticket to the Maldives in my hand, thinking ‘Oh god what am I doing?’.”
What came next?
“I left for the Maldives with an eye on a job at a different company than Rich and Amy, but as soon as I arrived an opportunity opened up to become Amy’s grasshopper. So I took it. I followed her, shadowed her everyday, taking people to amazing surf spots. They opened my eyes; you can actually do this kind of thing for a living. To be fair, it isn’t much money, but you get paid in waves and happiness.
No one tells you that you can, until you meet someone who already is.
I just took a leap of faith in to the unknown. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I just looked at it as an opportunity. It all worked out. A few months into the Maldives, I met my current partner in the water. A fellow Kiwi and surf guide, it all just fell into place.”
So your dream job and your dream partner, all wrapped up in the Maldives?
“Exactly. It is all about having faith in your gut instinct and maximizing opportunities when they arise. Visualization is huge. I used to go to sleep every night for 2-3 years dreaming of being on a safari boat in the tropics with the love of my life. All of a sudden it was my reality.
It takes courage to live differently; we are quite brave. There is heaps of pressure, heaps of negativity thrown towards people who are living alternative lifestyles and doing what we’re doing. We have to keep going.”
Was there anything that really struck you as an “AHA” moment?
“I originally moved to Bali to work at a surf and yoga retreat, but got very sick with Dengue and Typhoid fever. With the sickness came a falling-out with my employer. I had a massive realization that I had undervalued myself.
I don’t want to build someone elses dream. I’ve always been a believer of following your dream, so why would I be pursuing someone elses? Something needed to change and I needed to grow some balls. I took the confidence I had gained from surfing and brought it into my daily life. Life is short.
Now, I wake up very happy. I am still living hand-to-mouth but I am pursuing something that I wholeheartedly believe in and am passionate about. I want to see a change in female surf. I want to see real style in the lineup. It is time to see women looking really beautiful in the water. I’m stoked to support other women in business as well as encouraging everyday female surfers to chase their dreams.”
Any wise words for those of us who are looking to land a dream job… or dream life?
“Keep doing what you love. It all works out. Follow your passion, do the things that make you really excited and happy and follow that. It will always work out. There will be challenging times but it is never rewarding if it’s too easy.
If it is too easy, you will always be waiting for more.. then everyone will be doing it.
I didn’t want to slave away at a ‘meh’ job and know I didn’t enjoy the best and most active years of my life. I think we have the power to choose our reality.
There is a shift happening. Don’t get caught up in your own zone and life bubble, catering to what is ‘normal’ and following ‘what you are supposed to do’. What is normal is carrying over from the past. We aren’t in the past. Make a massive leap of faith into the unknown.
Life is too short to put up with anything that isn’t working.”
So there you have it. What if your dream job is out there, waiting for you, wondering if you’ll ever arrive? You may not know it yet, but it’s there. It’s tangible. It just needs a bit of faith and a lot of bravery. You don’t need to work for someone else’s dream, you have your own. Forget normalcy, forget what you are “supposed” to do. Normal is relative, your life is up to you, not others.
Whether you’ve figured this out like Danielle, or you’re struggling to figure it out, it’s time. It is time to accept that your life is your greatest achievement. Why not take some risks, a leap of faith, and create it according to your liking?
You have the power to choose your own reality.