A Year Of Facing My Fears: Quitting My Job, Becoming A Digital Nomad & Scuba Diving

Whether it’s handing in your resignation letter, bungy jumping off Bloukrans Bridge or public speaking, facing your fears can hold you back from some of the most amazing experiences. My dad always tells me to face my fears and do it anyway, and during 2014, I did just that in a very big way.

Quitting My Job

In 2012 I started what I thought was my dream job. After the initial awesomeness of it all faded away, the late nights at the office turned into missed holidays, and even being sick on deadline was not an option. As time went on I became very unhappy in the stressful, unpleasant environment that was my job, and I started thinking about travelling and becoming a digital nomad. But I feared the lack of security that my monthly paycheque and employment benefits provided me with. This fear left me miserable at my desk for another six months.

At the end of 2013 that all changed, and I was forced to look my fear straight in the face when the branch of the company I worked for closed. Even though I had the option of staying with the bigger company, I knew I needed to do the bravest thing I’ve ever done and leave to become my own boss. I was so scared when I walked into the office that day and had to tell everyone my plan. It felt like my entire world was turned upside down, but I was happy, relieved, and saw so much opportunity ahead.

For more on how I successfully made it through this transition, read ‘My 6 Step Game Plan After Quitting My 9 to 5 Job‘.

Becoming A Digital Nomad

After a few months of trying to find my freelancing feet, I knew that what I was doing from home could be done from anywhere in the world. On paper the idea of being a digital nomad seemed amazing, but on the inside I was freaking out. Having spent no more than a month away from home, knowing I often get homesick, and leaving my support system behind was extremely scary. What I was planning  wasn’t a short two week vacation, this was going to be a six month adventure.

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Once I faced the fears that were playing over and over in my mind, I was able to rationalise my plan and move forward. Here are some of my digital nomadic fears and how I overcame them:

  • Loosing clients and running out of money – No matter where I am in the world I always have the risk of loosing clients, and running out of money.
  • Having to rediscover my work comfort zone in new country – As a digital nomad my focus and work comfort zone needs to be flexible. Having never been a digital nomad before, I surprisingly thrived in my new environments.
  • Not being able to speak the native language  – I grew up in South Africa, which has 11 official languages, and when I come across someone that speaks a language that I don’t understand, I always figure it out, so why can’t I do the same abroad.

Even though I got onto that plane with all my fears still weighing me down, I learnt that like leaving my job, I needed to face my fears head on to get what I wanted.

Scuba Diving

Not being the strongest swimmer, having a real fear of everything underwater (especially sharks), and getting panic attacks from seeing deep, open ocean, I surprised myself  while on Koh Samui in Thailand, and ended up facing one of my biggest fears – scuba diving.

I have to admit that the staff at Discovery Dive Centre in Koh Samui acknowledged my fears and put my mind at ease by giving me the option of going into the pool, trying the equipment, and then deciding if I was comfortable enough to carry on and go into the ocean. During the pool training, I really struggled (especially having to take my mask off underwater and sit there for a minute) and just wasn’t getting it which only made me more fearful. Our instructor, Nicola, had so much faith in me and truly pushed me to what she thought I was capable of. Before I knew it, my training was over, and even though I’d downgraded my certification from Open Water to Scuba Diver, I was comfortable enough to head out to sea the next day.

Heading to the boat the day after training my fears escalated to a point that when Nicola asked how I was feeling, I started crying – full on ugly cry. My fears were becoming all too real, but both Sean and Nicola calmed me down and reassured me that everything was going to be ok. I needed to remind myself that I did the training and I knew what I was doing.

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My moment had arrived. Nicola gave me the thumbs up and I headed from the beach into the ocean – and before I knew it Nicola signalled that we were 12 metres underwater. I was scuba diving by myself, in the open ocean that I feared so much, and was surprisingly calm and at ease. The serenity of being with my thoughts, experiencing a new underwater world, and using my acquired skills gave me so much confidence on my first dive. By the time we surfaced, my adrenaline was pumping and I realised that I had faced my fears – and couldn’t wait for my second dive. I’d gone from crying to confidence in less than a few hours and today, I can’t wait to go diving again.

My mind was blown by the stunning coral and sea life of Koh Tao. To see more of our diving experience watch our video.

In January 2014 my ‘dream job’ ended, and my dream life began. It took me facing my fears to get me where I am today – a self employed, scuba diving digital nomad chasing my own dreams. If these things didn’t  bring out this amount of fear in me, I wouldn’t be as proud of where I am today!

If you found this post interesting, please share it with someone that may need help overcoming their fears.

About the Author

Travel Writer & Blogger. Copy Editor. Co-Founder of Freemadic.com.