Living a Life Without Regret w/ Columbia-Based Writer Sara Burdick

WHEN I READ the story What Traveling And Living Out Of A Backpack Has Taught Me About Life by Columbia-based writer Sara Burdick, a fire ignited in me.

Sara is a curious soul, a world traveler, a seeker of truth and meaning — a dreamer. What’s unique about Sara is that her dreams didn’t remain dreams.

She acted. She took a chance. She sold her things, left her job, and leaped into the unknown and is now experiencing the beautiful opportunities that have come from taking a chance on herself.

She’s still early in her Medium writing adventure, yet she has already experienced exciting growth, fulfillment, and connection with others such as myself who resonate with her words.

Reading her article felt as if she was speaking directly to me: you are on your path, nobody else’s. Cherish it — give everything you have to live your truth.

She’s been through what I’m currently experiencing: a calling of the soul to get out into the world and seek what truly matters.

Her story serves as living proof of what is possible when we ask ourselves what’s important, and don’t stop until we experience the answer.

I asked Sara if she would join me to discuss her journey on The Dare to Dream Podcast; I’m so grateful for the discussion we had.

She delivered a wealth of knowledge, passion, and inspiration, not as a teacher would to a student, but as a friend would to another whom they truly care for and want to see flourish.

A New Way of Thinking

When we met on Zoom, I was greeted by a joyful smile and the lush green hills of Columbia. Insects fluttered through the humid air; people walked through the street below whom Sara shared a few words with in Spanish, and the wagging tail of a dog entered the frame more than once.

“It’s kind of crazy,” she said with a laugh.

“Where I live it’s literally in the rural mountains of Columbia. So people walk to work. You might see a horse go by, which would not be surprising. Earlier people were picking lemons from my lemon tree!”

The setting couldn’t have been more perfect for the conversation.

We dove into Sara’s background as an ICU nurse, what inspired her worldwide travels, how she began writing, and what led her to the rural hills of Columbia.

“When I was around your age,” she said, “I started thinking, what do I want to do with my life? But I never actually made any changes. I just kept working and working. But I was never happy. I started questioning what is my life about? What do I want to do? It was always about making more money.”

Sara worked as an ICU nurse for around 16 years, but she felt she was put on this earth for other reasons.

“I didn’t hate nursing, I just hated the structure and how it made me feel,” she explained.

“I thought if I stay here, I’m going to get a disease and die. Because I’m so unhappy on the inside. But I have to admit that to myself before I can even think of getting help. As soon as I thought that, someone came into my life who was like, I will help you. I started on this path of healing from the inside out. She introduced me to a new way of thinking.”

What is that new way of thinking? I asked.

“That I don’t need to live in fear anymore. And that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, because I’m not like everybody else. I started getting obsessed with travel blogs because I knew my heart was nomadic. I wasn’t born to have the traditional life that my sister has, or my brother has.”

On Regret and Death

Her nursing career gave her an incredibly unique insight into what matters in life. Sara would speak to her patients and ask them what they would change if they had the chance.

“I’m obsessed with regret and death,” she said.

“It sounds weird, but I like the Stoic philosophy to think about death every day, and think about the end of your life. What are you going to look back and regret? When I started thinking, what am I going to regret in my life? I started asking my patients.”

“I would say to someone who was dying, what do you regret? It all had to do with things that they didn’t do. I regret not taking that trip. I regret staying at a job that I hated. They regretted being afraid to take that leap. I thought at the end of my life, I don’t want to look back and think, I was so afraid that I didn’t do anything. I would rather look back and think, oh my god I was crazy, but look at all of the adventures I had!”

Still, it took serious introspection and some divine intervention for her to take her own leap into the unknown.

“I was encouraging other nurses to pursue their dreams, but I wasn’t pursuing mine,” Sara admitted.

“And I was like, well screw that I want to start doing what I want to do with my life. And I started, I moved, I sold all my stuff and lived in my car for a few months. Once you sell all of your stuff also and have nothing left, it’s really freeing to realize you can do anything when you have nothing.”

The Journey

“I spent four months in Columbia in 2018 when I started,” Sara said.

“Then I went to Ecuador, then Peru, Chile, Argentina, then Uruguay. I found a work-away working at a ski lodge in Japan. Then I went to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia; I came home and then went to Africa — Botswana, and that’s when Covid started.”

When Covid hit, Sara was stuck in Argentina. She confessed she didn’t want to return to work in the U.S. and headed back to Columbia.

“This is the only life,” she said, “so why waste it? Our purpose in life is to figure out what we’re here for. What you want to learn. And then when you figure it out, I think you die!”

This message serves as the backbone of Sara’s writing — pursuing an answer to the question: what are we truly here for?

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

“It’s almost like there’s this bridge,” she said, “and you’re afraid to get over it. It’s like, why are you afraid? So that’s kind of what my writing is about. Are you looking down at the water? What’s the worst that can happen? If you die you die, but if you don’t die, you might end up somewhere like this. I don’t know how that happened — I just kept going forward. I just kept being curious about what could happen.”

Sara is somebody who has traveled extensively over the last few years, so I felt impelled to ask what common thread she found throughout her experiences.

“Humans really want to be good,” she said.

“I’m a firm believer in humanity. That the good in humanity will prevail. Once you get rid of all the stuff and actually touch someone’s soul, people want to be good. If you go to see the good in someone, you will see the good in someone.”

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