Telling everyone I quit my job without anything lined up was one thing but following that up with i’m packing up and moving to a whole new country seemed to add an element of shock to people's faces. Suffice to say, I got two reactions from everyone. Either “That’s super brave” or “wow...you’re insane” and even with the people who gave their support, I could sense the underlying tone of “wow...you're insane….may the force be with you.” With no definite form of income, I am off to Holland.
Leaving my family and friends to pursue something new in a country that uses words like Slaaplekker isn’t an easy decision to make. But in New York, I found myself avoiding anything that didn’t feel “normal”. We all grow up trying to build an environment around ourselves that makes us feel at a consistent ease, which is why daily routines are created. I found this suffocating because when I was traveling, I was thrust into new scenarios and every time I came back to New York, that routine drove me stir crazy.
So I decided to push myself. To live somewhere where I'm constantly in new situations that make me feel uncomfortable. Whether that’s because I only know one person in the crew, or because i’m in a group filled with locals who are speaking their native tongue and I’m the asshole who says “uhhh...sorry, English”, you find that you are never at ease. Sometimes I found myself in situations thinking, “wow, yeah, I really didn’t like that”, but eventually get that one blissful experience I’ll never forget, reminding me why i’m doing this.
Whether positive or not, it then allows me to rapidly expand the bubble of things that make me feel comfortable, which is ultimately what I'm doing. Without pushing those boundaries, how are you supposed to grow?
So why did I quit?
The million dollar question I still get to this day. “So you’re telling me that you had a job where you traveled around the world producing music festivals on beaches and you wanted to leave? Now you’re really insane.” Yes, the job had it’s undeniable perks. But when you’ve been doing the same festival for upwards of four years, some tasks can become quite repetitive. My co-workers will always be my family. They introduced me to a world that I never imagined I’d be apart of in a million years. They taught me to never lose who I am through the bullshit. I couldn’t have asked for better people to travel the world with these past few years. 5 Continents, 15 Festivals, there’s no doubt it's been a wild ride.
They also taught me to stick with my gut. Being the baby of the group I felt a constant pressure to prove myself beyond my years. This made me eager to keep pushing and grabbing at every task I could get my hands on. That combined with the New York state of mind work ethic led me down a path where my job became my life but I wasn’t so sure I wanted it to become my career. My gut was telling me that I loved working with different cultures, I loved creating experiences for people but right now, it’s time to move onto something different. Whether that be a new industry or medium that I'm doing this in, I don’t know. But it had hit the point where I needed to shake things up a bit.
But without a job?
Yeah…so this wasn’t completely part of the plan. I was speaking to a few companies but those fell through for one reason or another so I decided to just do it. I have savings, I knew I could live in Amsterdam as a “Tourist with a capital T” and I needed the change. Basically, I have 2 months to figure it out. Maybe I decide it isn’t the place for me and I come back to the states, maybe I fall in love with it and never return. I’m not really sure. The plan doesn’t need to be set in stone. Have 80% of it planned and let the remaining 20% figure itself out.
Okay…But why Amsterdam?
Anyone that has been to this city understands that it’s nothing like what America stereotypes it to be.
On top of the fact that the city is just absolutely stunning, there is a type of creative and innovative energy that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. Don’t get me wrong, Dutchies are as blunt as they come but there’s a type of open-mindedness to other cultures you don’t regularly see. For instance, whenever someone asks me a question in Dutch and I respond saying “Sorry, English for me...." 100% of the time their first response is “So sorry!....” and then continue to ask the question in English. Why in hell’s name would they be sorry?! I’m in their country. I think it's safe to say that type of response doesn't happen in the States. Then, when it comes to work, there’s a type of balance where you work hard, but put your computer down at the end of the day and take a class in something you're passionate about, or, enjoy some beers with a friend. It’s the type of city where you’re career is second to you life, not your entire one. For my mental health, I needed a change from New York. I needed a city that sleeps and doesn’t penalize you for doing so. I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here, but it’s the change I needed to make for myself.
So…What’s next? Do you have a plan?
Very much so. I recommend to anyone that is deciding to quit, whether you have another job lined up or not, to have all your ducks in a row before giving your two weeks notice. For me that meant a few things -
Budget Plan: Creating an entire budget with my savings. This covered every dime I’d spend while living abroad. Food, Apartment, Taxi, Bike, Bars, Health Care, Phone etc. etc. etc. This should be nailed down to the last detail and always make sure to add an “MFU” (Major Fuck Up’s) of 15% of the entire budget. Then, you need to follow it and stick to it.
Apartment in New York/Amsterdam: I had to make sure that my current apartment was rented out, some furniture was sold and I had an apartment lined up in Amsterdam. Apartments in Amsterdam can be hard to come by but luckily I had some incredible friends that helped me out. One girlfriend put up a status for me asking of anyone who had a room available and there were more than I knew what to do with. I found a pre-furnished room with roommates for $650 a month and brought 2 suitcases with my clothes and toiletries. The rest I boxed up in New York and put into storage.
Timeline and Goals - Old Company/New Company/Freelance: This was a big one. I created a spreadsheet with all of the companies I wanted to target for both fulltime and freelance work. Some were through connections but a lot - and I mean A LOT - were cold emails to companies just asking if they wanted to get a coffee and hear more about my background. No strings attached. I perfected an email with my resume telling them I was going to be in Amsterdam and sent out at least 10-15 per day. To my surprise, I had a 50% response rate and secured coffees for the first few weeks in Amsterdam. (I would also recommend downloading the plug in “Streak” for Gmail so you can see if people have read you email :) ) Past this, I learned everything there was to know about getting a freelance license in Amsterdam. I can write about it in another post but I can confidentially say I know everything about it. Lastly, I set deadlines. Understanding I need to abide by the visa rules (90-180 Schengen Rule for US Citizens) I gave myself the last possible day to find a full time job and then I need to apply for the Freelance Visa so I can legally stay in the country.
Additionals - Healthcare, Visa etc: Before you quit, make sure you understand your company's policies. What happens with your health care? Do you have to hand a computer and/or phone in? For me, I did some research and came across Cigna. They are an incredible international health care provider for a reasonable cost per month. For my phone and my computer, I made sure to have everything saved and backed up. Remember, your company could tell you to leave on the spot so you need to have everything prepared incase they tell you to get out.
Giving your Two Weeks”: Once all of this was completed, I gave my two weeks and began my adventure. It will be an interesting next few months - we’ll just have to wait and see what happens the next.