"This can't be all there is." I thought to myself. "This can't be it."

It all began one sunny day at work. I was staring outside the window of my big city office, files in hand, daydreaming of an eventful life outside those walls. My whole university life was focused on landing exactly in that industry, in that job, in that city. I was living my dream. But why wasn't I happy?

I went through a terrible depression. I was so miserable, on some days I thought I would just forget how to breathe. "You're too young to be so unhappy," I remember my best friend telling me. And so eventually, in an attempt to find what would make me feel alive again, I quit.

A few months after, I found myself on my first trip abroad. I was so mesmerized by all the street signs I did not understand, the sights I only used to see in magazines, and the people from all walks of life I met along the way. Pulling my luggage around with me, I got lost on my very first day. I was alone. And it was the best feeling ever.

I had fallen in love with the iridescent life that is traveling.

One day, in a little beach island in the Philippines, I met some free-spirited travelers. Their perspective on life and travel swept me away, and my eyes were opened to a magnificent world I had no idea existed. A world of happy, wild spirits. They were grounded, open minded, and above all, free. I saw traveling as not only something that you do when you go away—I saw it as a way of life. They made me see that being happy and free was not a privilege, but a choice available to us all. I wanted to become like them.

"It’s hard to do anything when you’re afraid," my traveling friend told me. "Don’t tell me you can’t travel."

That was the start of everything. I ditched the fear (and the luggage), picked up a backpack, and went on my first Asian backpacking trip. And thus my life began.

Hey there, I’m Nicole. And I’m a wayfaring soul.

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Nicole is a writer and photographer currently based in the Philippines. She is the Associate Editor for travel and lifestyle website WhenInManila.com, and Ambassador for Dutch travel start-up Withlocals. Get in touchsay hi.