Part 1 of my emailed, reintroduction series
Happy New Year! Buckle up, you're in for a doozy :) This is about a 10 minute read.
“Your light is dim Vik, what's going on? ”
By the start of 2021, after several long months of van life travel through the rust belt and Great Lakes in the USA, I was good and depressed. The pandemic started some time earlier, but it’d been years since I had the gift of in person community. It would take me several lonely (pandemic) years to piece together how inward I’d become. I even migrated from ESFJ to INFJ!
How far I’d gone out of my way to avoid conflict, uncertainty, or be seen as imperfect. Insidiously and gradually, becoming a people pleaser, martyr, passive aggressive jawn, and performer dictated the way I showed up in the world.
And so, on a gorgeously snowy day at a wedding in Colorado, my soul sister saw me more clearly in five seconds than I’d seen myself in years.
TLDR: hopefully you’re into long form! This will be a series of emails reintroducing myself to you, so you can have more than just a face behind adventuresOFcommunity.
It’s about how I got here, why, what’s happening now and maybe, you’ll find bits of resonance woven with a smidgen of entertainment.
After graduating from the U of Maryland in 2011 to no job prospects [mainly thanks to residual recession trends, but also heartbreak], I began [my favorite flavor of avoidance] extensive travel. Truth is, I’d been traveling since 4 mos. old; at least two international trips a year with my parents [a public HS teacher and inner city cop] gave me the serious travel bug.
So after uni, I moved back home, took the NJ teaching exam for history, passed and became a long term substitute teacher, all for one purpose.
I’d sub. teach for months, save every penny and then backpack for months on end, aimlessly, blissfully. Choosing always to work exchange (work at travel places like hostels in exchange for room/board), where I was able to connect with people from all walks of life and gain the most impactful education that I believe exists. Seriously. The world is simply, the best school.
By age 27, experiences with two big girl jobs [LOL], a filled to the brim passport, one little cult 👀, working at a cultural summer camp, and applying to hundreds of jobs [all listed in a Capricornious google sheet]; I was dazed and confused for real.
What was MY PROBLEM? Why does nothing seem to stick? Why can't I be consistent with anything?
Friends all around me were moving up into junior, even senior tech roles, and I was aimlessly traveling, receiving no responses from all those job applications, feeling humiliated, dumb, and sad.
Let's face it, I grew up super privileged and fortunate, captain of nearly all my sports teams, school president, nearly straight A’s yada yada yada. As a total millennial trophy kid, I had no idea what to do with the heightening Jenga board of rejections. As a true American raised kid, I attached my worth with my output, my degrees, my job title. Since I had seemingly little of these, I felt like I was going nowhere fast.
It was easier, to just keep traveling and renewing myself everywhere I went. So, I had espresso at my favorite Sicilian cafe on Spring mornings, ate traditional pastries with local Bosnians, biked around Melbourne, and crossed a multitude of land borders by bus.
But the little voice in the back of my mind, telling me that I'd better get a move on and BE somebody was getting louder and louder.
Unbeknownst to me, the years of work exchanging and building a semblance of community wherever I lived globally, had woven a thick thread of some kind of career. By my time as a program leader with Remote Year [RY], my dream job, it became obvious.
Community was the woven thread and working at RY was my Community MBA.
**Remote Year stories are definitely for another time, so if you’re ever actually interested, let me know and I can write up a blog post.
After nearly 2 years bopping about the world, I returned to a Trump America + high level division, upset, and anger. I was shocked at how quickly society could implode on itself, so I wanted to test how true that was.
I created a whole company around the idea of civil conversation on controversial topics, a web series called Anderson Street.
Tapping into my RY community, I found an excellent producer, sound engineer, editor and myriad other teammates. We fundraised $30K and were selected for 2 web series awards! It was fun, intense, impactful, challenging, and we all learned immensely about business, boundaries, and how to communicate cross culturally. The series dissolved after 3 seasons simply because it became too much to manage, everyone decided to migrate in their own directions, and honestly, I didn't have a clear vision of where I wanted to go with it. Thus, more pivots and me feeling my age more and more.
Another big girl job followed as I considered moving back abroad to escape once again; after another [self perceived] failure that was Anderson Street.
And as life does, it threw me the monkey wrench of love and I met my boyfriend Dušan as he too, was home for a few months before planning to move abroad again. Being in a relationship for the first time in a decade, I inadvertently saw a gargantuan mirror held up to my face of how I show up [yikes].
Unable to dip into my default bandaid of escapism, my transformation journey had no choice but to begin, much to my chagrin.
I thought van life would solve my issues of feeling uncomfortable in my skin, uncertainty about which direction to take, being seen as a failure filled with mistakes [pivots], and of course, it would prove to everyone else that I was worthy because I am adventurous, fun, and a total people pleaser! What could go wrong?
Shocker, that didn’t work.
At the wedding where my friend asked about my light, I signed up for a transformational leadership program that would go on to be the start of a new, turbulent chapter, the one I am still fully enveloped in.
Healing. Self Worth. Confidence. Honesty. Accountability.
I can’t quite put into pithy words how much my life was rocked through the intensity, consistency, and integrity of this program. Which showed me, very very fkng clearly, how little I regarded myself.
It was arduous, tedious, challenging work to peel layers off myself for endless months and see what lain at the core. Then, rebuild back up. Ayahuasca, peyote, LSD, mushrooms, kambo; nothing compared to this fully sober and sobering experience.
Slowly, things shifted.
I started saying no, feeling my feelings [who knew I had those!], cried for no reason, ended friendships, strengthened others, found that confidence I’d slowly chipped away at for a decade, intentionally chose into my relationship [instead of half in/half out], engaged in hard af conversations, cultivated self worth, shelved imposter syndrome, took up more space, used my full voice.
I saw myself, as whole, as unlimited, as a gift.
Stay tuned for part dos, in a week :) I know this was wordy! Not apologizing for it!!
Leave a comment if anything resonates!
Thank you for reading this far in a world of short attention spans, I feel honored.
It’s my pleasure to share something with you that is a small culmination of some of the bigger lessons I’ve gained from the story above, authenticity. One of my signature talks & workshops is on authentic leadership and I recently partnered with someone to make it a concise and graspable course.
Find the course below, where you’ll be onboarded! Use this code for a delicious discount: CONSCIOUS50
Hey, I’m Viki and I a woman of many facets. The quick version is, I curate community through connection, collaboration, and creativity. I bring people together to create and connect as a community consultant, I bring people together to contribute to, and belong within a cohesive team with workshop design&facilitation, I empower women to course correct the north star of their compass, dust off their innate toolkit, and reposition their crown as a transformation coach, and I also offer somatic release through holotropic style breathwork. To find out more, start here.