I returned home three months later and within 12 hours of my plane landing on U.S. soil, I received what felt like 1,000 messages asking me if I had started job hunting. I hadn’t and I didn’t plan to. I decided that I would get a temporary job over the holidays and save up more money to go back to Europe. Three months wasn’t enough, I was JUST getting to the point where I was getting comfortable with self-exploration and discovery.
I saved up enough money to spend another six weeks in Europe. Again, I allowed myself to embark on an intellectual and spiritual journey of self-reflection and creativity. This time, I was accompanied by my friend Sam (now, Director of Strategic Planning for co-mads). We shared our vulnerabilities surrounding our thoughts of what it meant to live a fulfilled and happy life, we listened and challenged one another’s ideas and viewpoints surrounding social justice issues, entrepreneurship, etc. I tended to ramble on about my thoughts on millennials and the imperative role we play in solving social problems. I reflected on my volunteer and professional experiences with various nonprofits, and in which areas I saw these organizations lacking. I harped on how nonprofits and social enterprises are missing out on opportunities to engage young people (outside of college age) in meaningful and impactful ways. I expressed my frustrations on the lack of organized groups, events, campaigns, etc. to target the skills and passion of the millennial demographic to assist in solving serious issues that were facing the U.S. and the world at whole.
Throughout my time in Europe, I met many Americans. Our discussions revolved around our travel aspirations, concerns about social justice issues back in the states, and professional ventures and goals. A theme became evident…I was right in that millennials want to immerse themselves in the various cultures of our country and use their skillsets to assist communities in need, but they felt there weren’t many interesting, well-rounded opportunities to do so once they graduated college. At a bar in Brussels, Belgium, the idea of co-mads was born. In a single moment, the idea hit me and it made complete sense. I had been on this mission to find what my idea of a fulfilled life looked like, to learn more about myself as a woman and a professional; all of the ideas from the last months and my boiling passions came together and formed the business and mission of ‘co-mads’. I decided that when I returned to the states, I would take the risk of not finding a steady or stable job, but rather put all of my resources, time, money, and energy into starting a business…a business I knew could change the lives of everyone who became involved. I am so glad I took the leap. I have met incredible people, have made extremely valuable connections, I have inspired others to give back to the communities they are a part of, and have taken strides I never thought would have been possible a few years ago. 99% of those I met told me that quitting my job was a mistake, that traveling solo in Europe was dangerous, that I should play it safe and just stick to focusing on getting into grad school.
But here I am…living this life I dreamt of when I was chained to that desk, when I was limiting my abilities and talents to perform whatever tasks and assignments my company had assigned to me…doing things I couldn’t have cared less about, for a purpose I couldn’t have cared less about. This is what being fulfilled is about…it’s about finding what fuels the fire inside of you and what brings out the best in you. A lot of risk is associated with living the life you truly want to live. You have to be willing to accept that risk and realize that if you do things for the right reasons, do the right thing for people around you, and stay true to who you are, the risk is going to reap a reward.