When Intuition Takes Over, The “Impossible” Happens

Gabriela working as an underwater photographer at The Great Barrier Reef (Cairns, Australia) / Photograph courtesy of Gabriela Echeverry

Gabriela working as an underwater photographer at The Great Barrier Reef (Cairns, Australia) / Photograph courtesy of Gabriela Echeverry

Too many times we close ourselves off to life’s possibilities and settle. We settle because being “realistic” is safer than dreaming about the impossible. This is a story about saying goodbye to all of that and following your gut instead.

Gabriela Echeverry is an entertainment lawyer/scuba diving instructor at Islas del Rosario, a small island of her home-country Colombia. She shared with Mindful Feminism a powerful tale of how following her intuition led to a life her mind would have never thought possible.

Four years ago, Gabriela was fresh out of law school and had been working at a law firm full time for over a year. Although she adored her profession, she wasn’t exactly the happiest person alive. “You know how law firms are; they’re based on a system of giving a lot and receiving very little. It’s an abusive environment, and I started feeling very depressed, to the point where I decided to quit and look for something else”.

Her job hunt began as the well-known case for many, frantically sending résumés everywhere with no apparent luck. “A few months in, nothing was coming up, and I realized I was sabotaging myself at interviews because I knew what I really wanted, and it wasn’t a job, it was to travel.” A while back she’d began planning a dream trip to South East Asia, “but it just never felt like the right time.”

“I knew I needed around 6500 dollars to go there for a year, but my savings weren’t adding up”. Plans had to change to make things work. Gabriela decided to listen to her heart and travel with the savings she did have. “I had 2000 dollars that would keep me on the road for three months. I planned a day by day trip where I would visit seven countries over that time: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

But those plans couldn’t have been further from what ended up happening. “The trip began in Thailand, where I took my first open water scuba course. It was one of the main things on my bucket list, and I was so excited to cross it out”. She fell in love with it right then, "I immediately knew I was made for the ocean, but the possibility of actually working on something like that was surreal, I didn't dare to contemplate it.”

Cairns, Australia - Photograph courtesy of Gabriela Echeverry

Cairns, Australia - Photograph courtesy of Gabriela Echeverry

As time passed, Gabriela began staying longer than planned in each city, going only where her heart led her. “Half-way through the three months, I still had five countries to go, but not nearly enough money. And going back before seeing them wasn't an option.”

A community of backpackers she’d met suggested she head to Australia for a while to earn more money to keep going, something she did without much hesitation, although for a lot longer than expected.

I began to listen to the voice inside me, I never did anything that didn’t feel right, I trusted my intuition, and everything flowed.

The Australia stop ended up becoming a year of improbable and fantastic jobs ranging from working at cafés to strawberry picking at farms. She was even a cook on a cruise and an underwater photographer -a role she remembers with pure bliss. “I began to listen to the voice inside me, I never did anything that didn’t feel right, I trusted my intuition, and everything flowed. I stopped worrying about time and accepted that at that moment, that was my life. When you’re away from your hometown, the people you’ve always know, and the pressure of ‘being somebody,’ something changes deep inside, you allow yourself to define and accept what you truly want”.

Once she had enough money to continue her trip, Gabriela went back to Asia for another six months and finished her journey. She nostalgically remembered the moment she decided to head back home: “At some point, my family started questioning me, they didn’t understand what was going on in my head, and they missed me. I mean, being away was easy for me, I saw something new every day, but for the people who stay, it’s hard. I let my intuition guide me again, I knew I didn’t want to travel forever, I did want to practice law eventually, and the money I’d made in Australia would run out, so when it did, I went back home”.

When the plane was landing in Bogotá, tears rolled down Gabriela’s face. “It was a very emotional moment. It was sad to feel those two years of my life becoming just memories. And at the same time, I missed my beautiful family and country so much”.

Returning was tougher than expected, “I didn’t know what was next, I felt like I was losing touch with the person I had become, although at the same time I knew I wasn’t coming back to the same thing because I wasn’t the same person.”

She gave herself time, to feel centered and at home again, and to truly understand what she wanted. Law was undoubtedly one of those things, and albeit improbable, so was scuba-diving, a passion that had lingered in her heat since her days in Thailand.

As before, things had a way of working themselves out. “Through an old friend who was filming a movie in Colombia, I met an entertainment lawyer who offered me a freelance opportunity. Four years ago I would have thought it wasn’t enough, I would have wanted something more permanent, but taking that chance was the best thing I could have done”. As it turned out, a few weeks later she got a job offer from a scuba academy at Islas del Rosario. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she says with a smile on her face. “I dive during the day and work remotely on legal briefs in the afternoon. If I had planned it, it wouldn’t have worked out. Looking back, I realize I had to let go and follow my gut for it to play out how it did”.

When thinking about the future, Gabriela is dreaming big. “I want to live my life fulfilling all my passions, perhaps in something that doesn’t even exist yet. After everything I’ve learned, I refuse to fit into a box”.