From building tree houses to building tribes
I never knew the answer to the question of who I want to be when I grow up. An anthropologist, a marine biologist, a doctor. I must have driven my parents crazy with all these ideas.
I could never tell what kind of music I like. ‘Good’ was not an acceptable answer in high school when who you were was defined by the music you were listening to. I never knew where I wanted to live, all I knew is I wanted to experience different cultures, meet new people, try different food, do all the thing that my parents could never do while living in a communist country.
I’m 35 years old now and still don’t know answers to all these questions. Spotify’s Discovery Playlists do the job of choosing the music I like. Being location independent but Bali based and working as a ‘secret weapon’ for one of the top coworking spaces on Earth does the rest.
I was born and raised in a village in Poland of less than 200 citizens. I’m the only woman from the village who is traveling the world & living abroad, which, according to my friends, makes me ‘statistically significant’. I was also the only person in this tiny community who married a foreigner (ah, and the first who got divorced, too). To this day, that has been a huge thing to carry on with.
Living in a small village teaches you one thing very well (apart from building tree houses) – to be persistent and ambitious.
Unless you want to be stuck in the village till the end of your life, you have to be good at everything you do – literally – everything. Getting the best grades at school; Reading all the books from the local library, painting, learning languages. Even winning a table tennis competition can get you somewhere – the next competition will most probably happen in a different village. Or better – a city!
So when I finally got to the best high school in the region I felt free. At the age of 16 years old I left the village to stay at the on boarding school. It felt liberating. A window of opportunities has just opened. It felt like freedom.
Finding a tribe
Fast forward 14 years and I felt it again, entering the plane to Bali on a one way ticket. I had never been to Asia before. I had only a blurry idea of what Bali was all about. But I didn’t need to know. I trusted my guts. And as always (or most of the time, anyway) my intuition didn’t fail me.
I got here in the best moment (for someone who was into entrepreneurship, learning opportunities, meeting new people). Hubud has just opened. It was the first coworking space on the island. Little did I know about what coworking is all about back then. Neither did the founders but they had (and still have) big dreams, which they turned into an amazing community.
That’s how I found my tribe. A tribe of people living and working differently. People who follow their dreams instead of complaining about the weather.
People who are not afraid of changes even though these changes require getting out of their comfort zones. People who left their small villages or big cities, 9 to 5 jobs or toxic relationships – places and situations where they felt like they were in a cage. People who value doing over just talking. Doers, makers and shakers.
Now, there is one more thing that growing up in a small village will do to you. And that is this: if you do end up getting into the best schools and universities and following your dreams instead of coming back to a place where you were raised – you will rarely be understood. Let alone if you decide to live on a tropical island 11,000 km away so you can work for a coworking space (a word that does not even exist in your native language) as a community builder, business development/marketing & sales/project manager, tech implementer (half of these words do not translate either). This is even difficult to comprehend by your own parents, not to mention other villagers.
All this was very difficult until I found the TED Talk by Emilie Wapnik “Why some people don’t have one true calling”. Turns out I’m a multipotentialite – a rapid learner, who performs best across two or more disciplines and loves to create something new at the intersection of them all, a person who adapts quickly (which also makes me feel like at home wherever I go – pretty useful skill for nomads). My true calling is my passion. And my passion can be whatever I want it to be.
Which only means that I can still become an anthropologist, a marine biologist, a doctor, Mum.
And those of you born and raised in tiny villages and small towns – you are one step ahead of the game.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things”. — Benjamin Franklin