I don’t just want to tell my story. I want to give people the space to tell their own stories. Stories in which people followed their own inner voice. Went in new directions. Broke rules. Grew. Because there are so many unbelievable stories that need to be told!
The Story of Michaela Gruber
Who are you?
My name is Michaela, I’m 31, and by profession, I am a nurse and globetrotter. I would describe myself as very adventurous and connected to nature. I also really like to try out and discover new things. Whether that’s unknown food, unknown cultures or other crazy things.
What do you see as your calling?
I haven’t really found a “calling” in life yet. I wonder whether everyone needs to have that sort of great calling. But I don’t think I’m destined for a normal life. I’ve always felt the desire to be “different”. Not to swim along with the masses, but to go against the current. Not to always do what society was expecting of me. Since I started listening to my intuition – or you could call it my inner voice – my life, as well as my attitude towards certain things, has changed fundamentally.
When did you start to follow your own inner voice?
I worked as a nurse in my home country of Austria for seven years. Day in and day out, doing the same thing. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my work, but the thought that it would continue that way for the rest of my life frightened me. At some point the majority of my friends who were around the same age as me started to get married and have children. I noticed right away that I wanted more from life than following the path society expects of you: marriage, building a house, having children and doing the same job your whole life. And so I applied for a year of unpaid leave and wanted to travel the world – alone. I headed off in the direction of Uganda with a one-way ticket and a good amount of optimism. It was my first backpacking trip, my first time going to Africa and my first trip alone. Perfect conditions for the biggest adventure of my life.
After just two months in eastern Africa, I realized that I wanted to travel for more than one year – I wanted to travel as long as I had the money and the desire to. I began to love this adventurous lifestyle. Without further ado, I wrote a resignation email. From then on, I felt free, for the first time in my life. There was nothing waiting for me back home. For the first time in my life, I was really listening to my inner voice, and to this day, there has never been a moment I regretted that. This trip changed so much about me. It ended up being 2.5 years of traveling.
Now I work in Switzerland. I have a great employer, who lets me work for half the year and travel for the other half. That’s the perfect lifestyle for me at the moment. I don’t know what the future has in store, but I will continue to follow my inner voice. And I’m sure that life still has some surprises and adventures waiting for me.
What stumbling blocks did you encounter on your journey?
It was hard in the beginning, of course. First and foremost, everyone I knew told me how reckless and how dangerous it is to travel to Africa alone as a young woman, and how it’s bad that I’ve now lost out on a few years of pension insurance and so on. Fortunately, I didn’t allow all that to have too much of an impact on me. Luckily, I have very open-minded parents, who always support me in all my decisions. While I was traveling, I was then suddenly confronted with loneliness. That also wasn’t easy in the beginning. But in retrospect, that certainly had a very positive impact on me. I became more courageous and self-confident, and because of it, I had a lot of time to think about the meaning of life and life itself.
Are there parallels between your path and the Stranger’s project?
Yes, quite a lot. Because I traveled alone, as I said, I had a lot of time to myself. So I could learn a bit more about myself. And I really began to understand freedom and living.
How would you encourage other people to follow their inner voice?
The best thing to do is just to listen to yourself. What do I actually want in life? It’s good to spend time alone. Because if you’re always around other people and are caught up in the stress of everyday life, it’s very hard to hear your inner voice. It’s best to just go traveling for a few days alone, or even better, to go out into nature. You should stop allowing your surroundings to have such an impact on you, and instead just do what you actually want to do. You should dare to try out something new, something crazy, or maybe something everyone is telling you not to do. Get out of your comfort zone! I’m sure no one will regret doing so. Life is full of adventures, if we dare to think outside the box.
More about Michaela:
Book: Einmal um die Welt – Allein als junge Frau durch Afrika