This blog post pretty much describes why I changed my whole life just to spend more time in the water, how this addiction started in the first place and what it took me to make my biggest dream, to kitesurf around the world, come true.

// Exactly one year ago – back at my happy place

I’m standing on the beach in Sao Miguel do Gostoso, Brazil, wind on my face, salt in my hair, sandy feet, big smile. I just came out of the water after my first kite session, feeling like a different person. I am landlocked, having no proper kite spots close to my hometown Munich, Germany, and I haven’t kited for half a year. The only thing I saw for the past weeks was rain. Going to work while it was still dark and returning back home in darkness.

Now, as I’m sitting down under a palm tree with the first fresh coconut water of the vacation, I’m thinking to myself how incredible kitesurfing makes me feel. I’m alive. Even though I just kited for two hours and my body is a bit tired, I feel totally energized, happiness flowing, and an endless smile on my face. I realize that I feel most like myself when I’m on the water. It’s my happy place, it’s where I feel at home.

// How the kitesurf addiction started

I started kitesurfing 4 years ago, right after I finished my studies as a graphic designer, and was completely hooked from the moment I went body dragging for the first time. I went back to Germany, worked 3 months in 3 different jobs to make some savings and booked a one-way flight to Cabarete, Dominican Republic, just to kitesurf a bit. In the end, I stayed for a year, teaching kitesurfing and working a bit as a freelance graphic designer. It was the dream life I could have never imagined before. The lifestyle was so far from any social conventions and the people I met and the way of living I saw there were more than inspiring. Nevertheless, when all of my savings were gone, I thought it was time for me to go back home, start a proper life with a proper job and finally get serious.

Me doing a backroll over a wave in Cabarete, Dominican Republik

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// Trying to fit into a normal life

Back in Munich, I got a job right away in a really great design and advertising agency with a great boss, an amazing team and cool projects. Still, in the following 3 years, my whole free time centered around kitesurfing even though I didn’t live close to a kite spot. All my holidays would go to the windiest places and during winter time my anti-depressant would be watching kite movies or researching kite spots I would like to travel to next. I couldn’t stand being in Munich without having booked the next kitesurf holiday.

So I always booked the next holiday shortly after I returned from one, otherwise I would be a depressed little wreck – ask my family and friends, I was no fun. Still, I thought the whole time to myself I should be happy with such a great job, cool friends, and living in such a nice city. I thought that my little first-world problems were no real problems, so I tried to pull it together. The memories of my life in Cabarete were fading and it seemed more like a dream than an experience I really made.

// The moment I realized I couldn’t “pull it together” anymore

Back to the beginning of this article, one year ago: I had just arrived back from my holiday in Brazil. It was like going back to a small dark whole, not only because of the weather but the whole life around me: it was cold, nothing was happening outside, my friends were all in winter mode while I was still in the Brazilian beach life mode, I was active and wanted to do stuff. I sat down one Saturday night after having texted everyone to go out and do something and nobody had time or just wanted to chill at home. I realized it couldn’t go on like that.

// Living a life where I kept on waiting for the weekend

All I was waiting for the first week back from the kitesurf holiday was the weekend. And now it finally was there and I was sitting at home. In reality, it wasn’t just about this one night. It was the whole process that came before. I realized that in the course of one week I shrank back into a quiet, little, depressed girl. I decided to find a different kind of lifestyle, a life that made me the person I wanted to be, the person I was when I came out of the water, after a session, with a smile all over my face. The person who was happy, met new people, was communicative and felt good with herself. It was the starting signal to a quest that would take me 5 more months to figure out. I didn’t want to run away from my old life, I wanted to find a goal, a new way of life to run towards.

Panorama image of kite beach in Sal, Cape Verde

// The quest for a lifestyle change that would fit me

I was racking my brain with what to do with my life. So I booked tons of conferences, seminars, and lectures, read a lot of articles, and blog posts, watched youtube videos and talked to a lot of people. It drove me crazy. My options were ranging from studying something completely new abroad (until I found out that I was really all about me wanting to learn new stuff and travel more) up to just taking a year off (which wouldn’t have been the right solution either because I was looking for a long-term solution, I knew it would be exactly the same life when I came back).

// At the tipping point

In May 2015 I visited the DNX Berlin, a digital nomad conference with workshops around the topic. I had no clue really what it was all about but all the topics in the program sounded very interesting and it made me super excited. Being on the conference was like an emotional outburst. There she was again, the person that felt alive and excited and keen to do stuff. Talking to like-minded people, hearing about the pros and cons of the lifestyle, and seeing the variety of ways how to live that lifestyle, were so fulfilling for a change.

Finally I realized, I was the creator of my lifestyle and made my own rules, taking back full responsibility for my life. It simply clicked. Every talk I heard on the conference gave me goosebumps several times and every hour further on I was more sure I just had to go for it. And without me having decided it consciously I heard myself talking to people about my plans. It just bubbled out. Although I still had no idea how to deal with the consequences, the immense change of lifestyle and how I would acquire all the skills and money needed for it.

// The solution

The solution was so simple, it was there the whole time, and maybe you are thinking now „What took her so long to realize that??!!“ Well it took me so long because there were tons of fears, expectations, norms, and images of what defined success and what I wanted for my future. I had to fight through those first.

Read Part 2 of this article to learn how I made the decision, how I dealt with the fear and where it all ended up.