Many people dream of giving all up for the good life on a sunny, sandy,tropical island, but Noelle Hancock actually did it.
It all began four years ago.Although Noelle Hancock was a successful New York City journalist earning $95K-a-year, along with a comfortable Manhattan lifestyle, she realized one day that she didn’t feel satisfied.On Cosmopolitan.com, she explains “It’s ironic to feel lonely on an island of 4 million people, but it seemed I spent my life staring at screens: laptop, cell phone, iPad — hell, even the taxis and elevators had televisions in them. I felt stressed, uninspired, and disconnected”.So she gave up all her possessions, bought a one-way flight to St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands nicknamed “Love City” ,in the hopes of finding the kind of fulfillment and excitement that her life in New York had not been able to provide. Though her parents and some of friends thought she was crazy, she wasn’t surprised by their reactions, which she felt were a result of “throwing off this life that you’re expected to lead.”“People are a little confused [when you’re] doing something that they’re not doing,” she said.
Immediately, Noelle realized St. John was very different from New York. There were no traffic lights, no chain stores, limited WiFi, and plenty of wild animals like donkeys and iguanas wandering about. She would even eventually find a chicken that had wandered into her bathroom.
She soon got a a job at the local ice cream parlor, making $10 an hour. Despite her Ivy League education and her previous, far more substantial, salary expectations, Noelle liked the work; she enjoyed using her hands, talking to people face-to-face instead of via text or email, and was happy with the work-life balance.
Perhaps there was something indulgent and Peter Pan-ish about this new lifestyle. But the truth is, I was happier scooping mint chocolate chip for $10 an hour than I was making almost six figures at my previous corporate job.
Later on she became a hostess, and eventually a bartender — that’s been her favorite so far, because she gets to spend time getting to know so many people.
“When you’re down here everyone has a different story,” she said.
Noelle is now looking for her next adventure, possibly to Europe. Not having a plan gives her a sort of “wild happiness,” she wrote. “Who knows where I might end up?”
Noelle isn’t the only one who’s been inspired to create the lifestyle she dreams of. Jonathan Banks spent four years sailing the world instead of showing up for his MBA; Danika and Chris Garlotta have turned to freelance jobs to support them as they tour the globe.Noelle thinks the biggest thing holding people back from following in her footsteps is that they’re worried it’s too expensive. But that’s a misconception, she said, and you don’t need as much as you think.
For the full essay, visit Cosmopolitan.com.