Why travel is crucial to my personal and career growth

Abby Tegnelia

I owe my path, my career development to travel. Photo © ericitaphoto.com

Last year, I was introduced to the field of travel nursing, an admirable field combining a sense of adventure with helping people. How inspiring is that! So when they asked me to speak about travel and career development at their Gypsy Nurse conference in Vegas, how could I say no? All I had to do was will away my intense fear of public speaking and squeeze in time during my move to San Francisco to write a speech — and then make it to Vegas four days after my move and one day before grabbing a flight to Hong Kong. The conference’s founder, Candy, is an energetic, encouraging, sincere woman, and I can’t thank her enough for inviting me to be a part of her world for a day. I had been so nervous, but once I got into the room of kindred spirits, I was fine.

It was strange to write a speech during this transition time, as I gear up for my next chapter, when I am determined to go after everything I want–personal time, success, freedom. But as always, I remain flexible to what my future actually holds…

All I know is that for now, I am right where I belong: on the move.

Here is a condensed version of my speech, about how each of these big moves/travels have been a defining moment in my life and shaped my career:

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Sacrifices in moving: Leaving Las Vegas

Abby Tegnelia Leaving

Photo by foggodyssey.com

Yes, it’s true — I am hanging up my stilettos and deserting the desert. It was a long, hard decision, one I had been mulling over for about six months. I did some Hail Mary-type plays in the end to see if maybe I could save my comfortable, happy life here. Alas, I did not get the humongous raise I gunned for (I said it was a Hail Mary), and Prince Charming did not ring my doorbell (ok, maybe becoming a homebody while I tried to figure out where I could move to doesn’t count)… But the universe was stubborn. In fact, the ol’ uni was sick and tired of whispering that my time here was done, irritated as I proved to be just as headstrong. So it threw bricks — the weekend getaways that usually rejuvenate me to return home? This time, on an innocent girls’ trip to Napa and San Francisco, I learned that I wasn’t going home, not really. My life as I knew it had come to an end.

“Why don’t you just move here?” an old friend asked me during happy hour in the Castro.

And I answered, “Why don’t I?” as breezily as if he’d asked me if I wanted another drink.

So here we are. I am at last… Leaving Las Vegas.

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Dreaming of returning to paradise…

living in Costa RicaI had a dream last night, in more vivid colors than I could ever imagine in my brown desert town. Yes, there are the glitzy lights of the Las Vegas Strip, but this was different: in my pre-dawn adventure, I was looking skyward at five layers of magnificent, magic-kissed tropics of the brightest greens and the bluest blues. The weirdest part of the whole thing was that I ended up there, I don’t know how, and met some sort of tour guide to this wonderful place through my mother. And to my surprise: Wow! I had had this woman’s name and phone number on my vanity mirror for a year but had never got around to calling. I didn’t feel relief in my dream, oh my, I almost missed finding paradise. Instead, it was more like, look at that: two paths, same ending.

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My Life of Extremes: Humor and Workaholism

Abby Tegnelia workaholism

Random funny pic unrelated to my blog rant on workaholism. (My friend isn’t crazy, just Canadian.)

Workaholism is a funny thing, and all of my female friends handle it the same way: by completely shutting down on the weekends. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing, but sometimes it is funny. And today, for better or worse, I thought I’d share. All of my friends with jobs like mine, that entail a full workload plus evenings of events and business dinners, power through the workweek running on empty. Then when it’s time to make plans with our free time on the weekends, it’s like pulling teeth to get us off the couch. But that doesn’t stop us from texting! (In fact, it may be the only time we’ve had all week to “catch up.”) How we manage to text all day long about absolutely nothing really is a gift, one I fear is shared only with bored teenagers. But why keep these talents to ourselves?

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Committing to Beating My Fear of Commitment

commitment phobias

©iStockphoto.com/robynmac

Time is a funny thing, and my fear of commitment and I obsess over it. 

I once thought that the eight months I spent stuck in LA, unemployed, waiting for my expensive lease to finish so I could flee that city that was never, ever good to me, were the longest of my life. I spent whole days watching the clock, waiting. In time, a solution would come.

It eventually did, the second I threw everything into storage and boarded a flight to Costa Rica, for what Ithought would be a month or three.

There, time seemed to pass even more slowly than it did during my awful year in Los Angeles – but it was different. In the sleepy heat of the tropics, I was always busy, but time didn’t seem to fly by like it always did when I was in NYC or Las Vegas working the hours of a CEO yet barely scraping by. Yoga, running with the dogs, working four hours a day (not 12!), studying, watching the sunset with friends…

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Proud to be the anti-Eat, Pray, Love girl

Borneo

When I first ran away to Central America, my friends pushed me to start a blog called “Eat, Pray, Abby.” Thank goodness I didn’t listen! While legions of female fans of the best-selling phenomenon are, as we speak, traipsing the globe trying to be the next Elizabeth Gilbert, I was most certainly not one of them. And my story illustrates what came to be my favorite aspect of travel and career breaks.

No, I did not find my one true love while on the road. Instead? I ended up right back at the office. Forget romance, I fell back in love with my career. I’ve suffered much “what kind of ‘live free’ example are you?” ribbing, and I laugh about landing back behind the desk.

Yes, in the end, I became the anti-Eat, Pray, Love traveler. The point?

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