Welcome to the next in a series of traveler spotlights on Katie Going Global, profiling some of my fellow thirty-something travelers who are getting ready to take a break from their everyday lives to travel – not just for a week or two, but for 4 months, 8 months, or even longer. If you missed them, check out previous interviews with Megan Shaw, Scott Hartbeck, Amanda Baker and Ali Garland.
This week’s interview is with Kat Selvocki of Pierced Hearts and True Love (seriously, what a cool name for a blog, right?!). Unlike some people who dream of breaking free from the evil corporate world, Kat is leaving a job in the not-so-evil nonprofit sector to move to Australia to teach yoga! You can follow her journey on Twitter at @shinyredtype, on Facebook or on her web site, Pierced Hearts and True Love.
Starting with the basics, who are you and where are you from?
I’m a photograph-taking, pie-baking, knitting yoga teacher and volunteer manager based in Brooklyn. I’ll be a thirty-something in a few short weeks – my birthday is on August 5!
What has your career path been like up to this point?
I’d say that my career path has been somewhat straight-forward until now. I started interning for an amazing think tank while I was in college in Washington, DC, and that really sparked my interest in non-profit work. I stuck with the 9-5 world post-college, with one exception: in 2005, I quit a steady job with a decent paycheck to move to New York City and do my AmeriCorps year with Habitat for Humanity. It was an amazing year, though I went back to the world of desk jobs after that.
The name of your blog is “Pierced Hearts and True Love” – where did that come from?
While I was browsing in The Strand (a large bookstore in NYC that claims to have 18 miles of books), I passed through the tattoo section and came across a book from the 1950s about a history of tattooing. The title was Pierced Hearts and True Love. When I think about travel, I think about the places and the people that have captured my heart – and that clicked when I was thinking about blog names.
You’re going to be teaching yoga in Australia – what motivated you to leave your current career to do something like this?
A series of very fortunate events! In February of this year, two things happened: I completed management training for work, and I started my yoga teacher training. In the management training, I learned that I didn’t want my boss’s job, and in yoga teacher training, I re-discovered my passion for teaching and also had the opportunity to do a lot of soul-searching. I’d already decided that I would quit my job to travel when one of my teachers arrived from Sydney and we talked about my desire to move there and the market for yoga teachers there – I was sold. I gave notice at work a few weeks later.
Had you ever thought of taking time off to travel or go abroad before? If so, what held you back?
I’d thought about taking time off to travel for YEARS. There was always something: mostly money, and the feeling that I would ruin my chances of having a career if I went. Most recently, it was my last relationship. I’m glad I’ve stopped making excuses now.
How have your family and friends reacted? Have they been supportive?
Overall, my friends and family have been incredibly supportive! A lot of people are really excited to come visit, and friends that I’ve known for a long time are happy that I’m realizing a dream that they’ve heard me discuss for at least six or seven years. I was surprised and pleased by how well my parents took it; when I panicked a bit after giving notice, my mom reminded me that the worst that happens is that I’ve quit one job and have to find another. I am so thankful for such an incredible support system.
What kind of response did you get from your boss and/or colleagues when you quit your job?
My boss and colleagues were mostly surprised. I’ve been at my job a long time for the non-profit world (nearly five years), and I got promoted last summer. They knew that I love to travel, but didn’t realize that I’ve wanted to live abroad and that I have family in Australia and feel connected to that country. I’ve gotten a lot of “you’re so lucky” and “I could never do that” combined with sadness and maybe a bit of resentment that I’m leaving. It’s strange to quit four months before you’re leaving, that’s for sure.
What is your biggest fear with respect to your move to Australia?
My biggest fear is definitely that I won’t be able to find enough work and thus will run out of money. Realistically, I don’t think that will happen – I’ll always be able to find some sort of work, and I’m definitely not afraid of manual labor – and yet it’s still hard not to worry about it sometimes.
Looking ahead to a year from now, how do you hope you will have grown or changed?
I hope I’ll have deepened my connections with my Australian family and friends, as well as built some amazing new friendships. I hope I’ll be more willing than ever to dive into new adventures. Mostly, I hope I’ll feel much more confident in my knowledge that a less traditional career path is the best fit for me.
What one question would you love to ask someone who has left their career to travel or move overseas?
I’ll be moving with two carry-on bags and shipping a small package to myself – and that’s it. What one unexpected thing have you found invaluable to have with you when moving abroad?