Leaving San Francisco
One girl’s journey to find her passion beyond Silicon Valley.
Need some inspiration before taking a jobbatical? A self-proclaimed real-life version of Shoshanna from HBO’s ¨GIRLS¨ and a San Franciscan at heart, Isabel Campanelli recently left her Silicon Valley startup job and set her sights on the rest of world. We love that her story is a work in progress, and that she’s embracing that. Stay entertained with her current European adventures and quirky humor on her blog, www.therealshosh.com.
Some people know what they want to do for the rest of their lives at age five. They love tinkering with things so they end up being an engineer, they have a knack for drawing so they become a fashion designer… but most people like a lot of things and it takes longer to find what they’re both passionate about and good at. I fall into the latter category.
As a new grad in 2011 with a B.A. in Communications living in California during an exciting time for tech–when online dating was still a bit unconventional, pre-Facebook IPO, and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel was still in college–I knew I had to jump into a career in tech…it was an exciting time with lots of possibilities! What a roller coaster that was. I am grateful for all the experiences I had and things I’ve learned. However, what I didn’t do for myself was take time to explore the world and my passions before I started working full-time in the “real world¨ at a young age. I never took the time in my early 20’s to explore what makes me tick, but what I learned is that you can always “begin again,” like I am today.
I needed a change, and that change wasn’t going to be a new job in San Francisco.
Fast-forward five years to January 2015. As a twenty-six year-old with some solid job experience, I was not as happy as I imagined myself to be at this age. At a younger age I knew what it felt like to join “the rat race;” going to my job day in and day out feeling like there’s a big hole in the middle of me, like I was missing out on what I´m meant to be doing. I felt stuck in my job, unfulfilled with my social life, and stuck in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.: San Francisco. All I wanted to do was to love what I did for work and explore what this world has to offer. I didn’t know how I was going to do it while I was paying the insane San Francisco rent and barely getting by, but luckily I had been saving ever since my first job.
As for living my passion, I knew I had to take some time off to explore what I like to do and what I’m good at. And for travel, I knew I wouldn’t get my fix if I took the ridiculously short two-weeks a year holiday that the U.S. gives employees — I needed three or six months! I needed a change, and that change wasn’t going to be a new job in San Francisco.
When I finally quit I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
So I quit my job and moved back home to Santa Barbara to live with my parents for the summer. It wasn’t easy leaving my job and friends; a steady paycheck and a routine I had become used to–but wasn’t thriving in. When I finally quit I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I could see all the possibilities in front of me. I thought: “shit, I’m twenty-six, no boyfriend, no kids, no house to pay off. This is my time to see the world, this is a perfect time!”
What I learned from a few months (maybe a year) being unfulfilled by work/life is that if you are unhappy, change it. You have the choice over your body/mind to change what is feeling stuck, and you have to take the risks and be courageous to try new things. Life is just a big experiment; we collect data from our experiences and decide what we like and don’t like, but we’ll never know if we don’t get out of our comfort zones and try something crazy! For me, the data that I’m collecting now is “how will I do traveling Europe alone? Will I meet new people, will I try new types of food, and will I meet someone who changes my life and will I get stronger from it ?”
Sometimes when I ask myself: one to five years from now, how will I feel about my choices? Will I regret not taking that chance, leaving that job, leaving that relationship, or asking for that raise? Then I write it down, I write everything down on sticky notes, Evernote, journal, or blog, so I can keep a record of emotions/thoughts/experiences to then look back on with self reflection.
I woke up the day after the wedding on top of a French mountain in a beautiful villa, and I knew I wasn’t going home.
I should probably preface this next part with: I didn’t plan on staying in Europe for more than two-weeks, and now I’m here for a few more months. I came out to France for my lovely friends’ Austin and Jean’s wedding in the South of France. I woke up the day after the wedding on top of a French mountain in a beautiful villa, and I knew I wasn’t going home. I kind of set myself up for this though, while in Santa Barbara this summer I had two part-time jobs which I gave a heads up to about my possible adventures, and all the money I saved while working in tech…well most of that was blown this summer on other trips. So really, I’m staying in Europe on a whim, figuring it out as I go.
Today I am in Paris, next week I’ll likely be in Sicily visiting more family or I might be back in Nice, France. I don’t really have a solid plan; I’m taking it day by day with a little planning and an open mind. Some may think I’m crazy, especially since I’m traveling on a tight budget, but for me it’s exhilarating trying to figure out how I’ll get by each day. To be fair, this isn’t my first time out of the country. I’ve been to Europe before, a few times, I studied abroad in Rome and Florence when I was nineteen, but that was a lot different as I was in a structured environment most of the day and with other Americans.
I can’t just work any job, I want to love what I do, in a realistic sense, and enjoy each day of it, not just live for the weekends like I used to.
So far it’s been a month (not that much time) and there have been moments that I just feel so excited about the unknown, which for me is big! I feel so alive. And there have been moments I just want to go home, eat healthy food again, get back behind the barbell in a Crossfit class, or see my friends; because let me tell you, the language barrier can be very isolating. It’s only been a short time in the grand scheme of things! Not surprising, but I’ve taken to writing a lot more these days, which feels so good. I’ve been jotting down notes all the time. For example, the cultural importance of a bullfight to Spaniards and most people in the South of France. It was my first bullfight and yikes, I had to leave early…more on that in my next post here.
I’ve gone back and forth thinking, “do I not want to worry about making money and just spend my savings on travel?” Or “can I make it work in Europe and get a job?” Both are possible, especially now with helpful sites as jobbatical.com and workaway.info. So far I’ve met some pretty great people; some are musicians, artists, art dealers, event planners, chefs, but most don’t live to work, they work to live; a philosophy I could get used to and will integrate more into my life. Knowing me I can’t just work any job, I want to love what I do, in a realistic sense, and enjoy each day of it, not just live for the weekends like I used to.
My new friend and certified Career Coach, Rebecca Castleton and I met in Barcelona where we talked about my career, travel, and my passions. She shared some tips with me about how to find what you love to do and I’d like to share with you too.
Rebecca’s Three Steps to a Fulfilling Career
1. Assessment: ask yourself, “who am I, what do I want, and what am I good at, what are my objectives in life?”
2. Do the research: if you like cooking, look into what it takes to be a chef, is there a culinary school by you, do you even need to go to school, should you just work in a restaurant, how long will it take to be a chef? Start making up recipes and posting food photos to your website or Instagram.
3. People: network and ask questions, a lot of them. Find people in the culinary industry you may know and ask them questions, shadow them in the kitchen for a few days, do as many informational interviews as possible.
My career and travel dreams for the future are to somehow integrate traveling into what I’m passionate about. I love to write so I’m looking into what it takes to be a travel writer of some kind. When I was young my dream job was to travel to hotel spas around the world and rate them. Ha, what a dream that was. I also love fashion and style, so maybe that can take me somewhere; I cannot tell the future, but I can make the best out of each day, like right now…I’m running late to meet a new French friend at the Eiffel tower!