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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Someone Drew Timelines All Over Your Life — And It Wasn’t You

Posted on February 16th, 2017

timelines
 
I’ve been living outside the United States for four years, but I still can’t help it. Yesterday at the supermarket in a small Mexican town, I found myself shifting from side to side, sighing, and crossing and uncrossing my arms as I waited for the woman in front of me to exchange a litany of pleasantries with the cashier before searching for exact change and finally meandering off with her carton of milk. 
 
For most of us, there’s no difference between waiting in line at the supermarket and planning out the rest of our lives. There’s this ingrained understanding in American culture that time is money, so we’ve been raised not to waste a minute or a dollar in getting there, somewhere, anywhere. We live our lives in the express lane, timelines and milestones carefully measured out according to society’s instructions. 
 
Especially for members of my generation, we want to have it all: multiple degrees, a star-studded career, a well-worn passport, and a loving family of our own creation. And so at the intersection of biology and culture, we’ve compromised on a fair ration of time for allowing ourselves some freedom and self-enrichment: the roughly ten years between college graduation and a reasonably delayed walk down the aisle at age 30.
 
While I tend to think, hey, at least my generation is giving ourselves ten years to live a little, the other part of me goes, but it’s only ten years
 
Up until very recently, I was cramming in all the experiences I wanted to have before I thought I had to settle down. I was living in a state of panic, trying to plan out how I’d fit in that cross-continental Africa trip or hitchhike across China or develop my non-profit in Ethiopia. I wanted to know how I’d spend more summers in Berlin while still staying on track to get a PhD, write a book, and live in Tokyo at some point. It suddenly dawned on me: there’s so much life I want to live, and squeezing it all in before the socially-sanctioned deadline for “settling down” is simply not feasible. 
 
So what am I doing about it? 
 
For one, I’m turning down the volume on what I’m told by music, art, television, parents, grandparents, friends, and employers that I should want. As a woman, I’m thinking critically about my relationship to motherhood in the future. Do I actually want to get married? Do I need to do it by a certain age? Do I actually want to have kids? Or could I decide for myself whether child-rearing is my calling or something I’ve been lured into accepting as fate by way of social custom? Do I want a single-pronged, work-my-way-up kind of career, or do I want to experiment with many different ways to make money throughout my lifetime? 
 
It’s not the answers to these questions that are important, but the fact that I’m finally stopping to ask them in the first place. It’s the fact that I’ve stopped measuring myself against some preconceived notion of where I’m supposed to be headed, at what speed, and when I’m due to arrive. 
 
I woke up and realized: someone drew timelines all over my life — and it wasn’t me. 
 
I’ve now warmed up to the brilliant idea that I don’t have to have my career cemented by 30. I don’t have to buy a house if I don’t want to. I don’t have to declare myself the marital property of one man and I don’t have to raise children (thank you, birth control). Or I can do all of these things, but in vastly different ways and at vastly different times in my life. 
 
Of course, this kind of thinking is not only possible when we stop living as if there’s only one way to set up a good life, but when we realize that no matter what life we choose to lead and when we choose to lead it, we will miss out. We will sacrifice something. We will feel regret. That’s something my generation has not gotten very good at understanding.
 
I know that by questioning marriage, delaying or denying motherhood, and jumping around in my income-earning strategies, I’m taking risks and making sacrifices. That’s just the way life goes. Having a permanent address, fixed income, ring on my finger, and children to care for me in my old age is also not an insurance policy against regret or uncertainty.
 
As I’m fond of saying, life is long, so why do we impose so many artificial barriers on our freedom, imagination, and breadth of human experience? We’ve finally given ourselves our twenties, but what about our thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties? Are we resigning ourselves to “getting it out of our system” and then saddling up to all that good old fashioned responsibility we’ve been told we need to take on to feel fulfilled and be accepted by society? 
 
By all means, I encourage you to rock your way up the corporate ladder, get married, and have kids by 35, but do it because you really thought about it. Do it because you looked at all the possibilities for life and liked those options best. Or do those things whenever you feel like doing them. Or not at all. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the lucky ones who gets to make these kinds of choices…so choose wisely.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Previously in: Berlin

 

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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Elaina on Instagram