If I had to give you an elevator pitch type of description of myself, it would go something like this:
“I’m a cultural omnivore who left home at age 16 and tries to make sense of the world through travel, cuisine and cultural immersion. I don’t have any family money, so everything I’ve done so far, I’ve made happen on my own.”
Here’s the longer story.
Born back in ’92, I was the only child in an average, post-communist household in Bulgaria. My family got screwed over by the Communists big time, when they came in literally out of nowhere one day and privatized all of our land and money.
I used to be an extremely shy and introverted kid until I lost my dad in 2009 and was forced to break out of my shell. I realized that nothing in this life lasts forever and that if you want to make something of yourself, you have to work really hard. (I still tend to be reclusive sometimes, but I just write it off as “creative solitude” now.)
When I was in high school, I won a scholarship to study abroad in the US, so without thinking much, I left. Instead of coming back to Bulgaria after that year, I stayed for a second, since I had adapted very well and the school and my host family invited me to come back. (I went to a private school on an ashram in New Hampshire called Sant Bani where we had to follow a vegan diet and meditate every morning, by the way. Totally random, but a transformative experience.)
By the time high school graduation rolled around, I applied to only one college which I knew gave generous scholarships and after a brief interview with a rep, I got in. That moment pretty much changed the trajectory of my life, which I will be forever grateful for. I liberal arts enthusiast with 0 math skill, I ended up graduating with a double major in Political Science and Spanish and a minor in Classical Studies.
Finding a job after college was an absolute struggle, because if you are a Bulgarian citizen, you need to find a solid job that is willing to pay a ton of money on lawyers and the government in order to sponsor you to stay in the country. I had 12 months free period of stay as a foreign graduate, so I accepted the only offer I got – a door-to-door salesman for a MLM company in Massachusetts.
This was one crazy experience which I still laugh about and add to my collection of super random things I’ve done. The whole company was a scam and since I was far from what it takes to be a successful salesman (mainly because I was running around Instagramming gorgeous spots in MA), I got fired after a few months. I did learn lots about how easily people can be manipulated though, so not a total loss.
In late 2015, as I was broke and about to pack up and go back to Bulgaria, a friend hooked me up with a job at Bank of America in the heart of Boston. This was the first time I truly tasted corporate life and it felt like straight up poison. I lasted there just about 4 months and quit, taking a part-time receptionist job at a gym and moving in with my best friend to save money on rent until I figured life out.
Tantalized by beautiful images of South East Asia and the promise of cheap rent, I signed up for a TEFL course and left for Bali on a one-way ticket. My best friend joined and we traveled around the island for 2 weeks, after which I realized it wasn’t my cup of tea and left for Thailand. After a series of unfortunate events and a couple lessons learned in Bangkok, I booked a one-way ticket to Barcelona, the city I had lusted after ever since I spent a summer working there in college.
In Barcelona, I spend 2 months partying my life away and flirting with depression. A few random gigs later (juice-maker, pub crawl seller, boutique salesgirl), I finally got a job at a tech startup which pays my bills as I continue to write and travel. I finally landed another office job and stayed there for six months. Fear held me back from pursuing my passion for travel writing and photography, so I hid behind the comfort of robotically sending e-mails all day and blogging on the side.
In November of 2016, I realized that I had nothing to fear, so I began looking for more travel opportunities. I landed my first press trip that December and flew to Granada. Then I got another one in February to Malta. And another one in March to the UK. I began attracting opportunities the minute I started pursuing what I felt most passionately about. I got fired from my office job at the end of March, which was the ultimate motivation to find ways to travel and help others do the same. In the next few weeks, I will be speaking at TEDxAC in Bulgaria and traveling to the Dominican Republic to live in a treehouse community for a month, where I will help out with photography and social media.
Honestly, my life has been a series of ups and downs, but I don’t regret a single move I’ve made. I’ve had it pretty rough at times, like having a total existential meltdown in the jungle, but I’ve bounced right back and learned valuable lessons. I’ve never been rich, but I’ve always found my way out of a bankruptcy. In college, I worked 4 jobs at once to pay my bills.
I’ve dabbled with sales, marketing, baking, been in music videos and a movie, absolutely enjoyed working as a tour guide, spent many hours standing behind a receptionist desk, hosted a radio show with a grand total of 1 listener and interviewed people for the news. I’ve learned over and over again that I can’t deal with corporate life which is why I am very passionate about entrepreneurship and building your own career. As some say, when you can’t find a job you like, make yourself one. I attribute the successful course of my life to 3 things: serendipity, the persistence of a savage and saying “yes” to things.
I’ve been on lavish European trips and been broke almost to the point of homelessness. I’ve drank calimocho out of a plastic bottle with my broke Spanish boyfriend and been taken on elegant dinners in a ’84 Porsche by a British-Columbian lord, all because I approach life with curiosity and openness. Life is short. Take risks and don’t ever let yourself wonder “what if.”
I love connecting with like-minded people, so if you’re a traveler at heart who’s curious about the nomadic lifestyle, drop me a line.