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Why I Left a "Stable" Job for an Unpaid One Abroad

Roberta Fregolent

Stability is not a synonym for happiness.

At 28, I was paying the bills, having fun during the weekend and I was settling down. Like a ball rolling down a hill, my life was moved by inertia. And it was so easy. Work, sleep, work. Be grateful for the deserved weekend and start again on Monday.

But that condition was not giving me thrills like the first time that I was holding the Venice-London ticket. I was not learning anything new and I was not growing personally and professionally. I felt like I was not able to change the direction of that ball.

In the past, I managed to stop that ball rolling down by studying and working abroad in four different countries. Those were the moments when I could open my eyes and stop playing a passive role in my own life. I faced challenges and made discoveries and international friends that helped me grow in a way that I could never experience in my comfort zone. I was sharing more than just food culture and landscapes views with locals and travel companions. I was getting a life experience from it.

So here I am, after resigning from my permanent job. I am packing a few items because in about two weeks I will be a member of the organization Helping Overcome Obstacles in Peru, in the city of Arequipa.

Some people wonder why I left a paid job to make my life "harder and unstable." They don't ask if my life was satisfying.

Some people wonder why I left a paid job to make my life "harder and unstable." They do not ask me if my life was satisfying. A few friends, relatives and even acquaintances questioned why I decided to not get money in exchange of my job. They think that I must have gone mad because I am renouncing a career that was preventing me from doing what I could really enjoy.

And some others ask me if I am ready and what I expect to find there. Sure, I got vaccinated and I put all what I need in my luggage. I read all about it. Speaking Spanish will be an advantage, as I will be able to avoid the language barrier. However you can never be ready about the unknown that you will experience. I will likely have a difficult time during the first weeks of adaptation to a new culture and environment. I will probably cry and I will miss how easy it is to wake up in your bed at home and get ready for another tedious day at work. Perhaps I will get ill and sometimes I will feel lonely. There will be times when I will think why on earth I put myself into that.

However, I believe that those moments will be immediately replaced by more powerful feelings. I hope that my job will contribute to make other people happy. But also that it will be worth my satisfaction through personal and professional growth. I intend to overcome the challenges with a positive attitude. I dream about living in a multicultural context and meeting new friends whom I will learn from and that will help me to deal with nostalgia.

This is because I believe that happiness is not a synonym of stability or a well paid job. To me it means being an actor of their own life rather than a spectator and to experience what makes you grow up and feel alive. And I am confident that this is what I will be feeling soon.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Roberta Fregolent

Roberta Fregolent is volunteering with the NGO Helping Overcome Obstacles in Peru, in the city of Arequipa. As a Programme Assistant she helps develop their Educational, Health and Social Development projects for disadvantaged children and women.

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