One year ago, I was unprepared for this trip. At twenty-five, I had never been out of Texas for more than a week at a time. That changed when I traveled to South East Asia in August 2016 for twenty-six days. What was initially a begrudging, feet-dragging twenty-two days abroad, turned into a life-changing experience. I didn’t want to stop traveling. Indeed, I extended my trip by four days. When I reminisce on what was holding me back, it was not fear, but more of an inertia that kept me in a comfortable space. And, the trip was so much more than a vacation during law school. It was a schooling of its own. One that gave me a deeper appreciation for how fortunate I’ve been in my life.
I remember being in Hanoi, Vietnam and seeing the street vendors – sixty-year-old, five-feet tall, one-hundred-pound women – walking up and down the dusty streets selling donuts and fruits out of baskets resting on their slumped shoulders. The women wore cone shaped hats, long pants and sleeves, and cloth pulled over their mouths to protect themselves from the relentless sun and the exhaust from the constant stream of motorbikes. They worked tirelessly from early morning until late at night to support their families, earning only a few dollars each day. Not yet employed myself, the trip provided me perspective and made me appreciate the opportunity to work the office job I knew I would eventually find. No matter how late I worked in an office, I would not have to toil like these brave, strong women. The experience made me feel blessed.
It turned out, I would be more blessed than I knew then. After law school, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to work at Vela Wood. And, Vela Wood has proven to be a great place to begin my career because of the people who are genuinely interested in helping me grow as a lawyer and as a person. I tackle new challenges daily, I’m granted the autonomy to handle an exorbitant amount of client interaction (a rarity for young attorneys), and I’m pushed to research ground breaking areas of law that I’m interested in, such as the effects of the legalization of Medical Marijuana on employers’ drug policies. My fortune doesn’t end there, however.
One of the partners at Vela Wood, Rad Wood, co-founded GlobeKick, a facilitator of remote-work experiences in which professionals are provided the ability to travel the world with a community from around the world, while they participate in personal and professional development programs. Understanding the many benefits of travel and work-life balance, Vela Wood decided to team up with GlobeKick to allow Vela Wood employees to participate in GlobeKick’s offerings. When Rad offered me the opportunity to attend a GlobeKick experience in Lisbon, Portugal, I couldn’t refuse.
And with travel again on the horizon, it reminds me of my first trip abroad to Asia. I know this trip will push me to expand my perspective. I’ve never moved anywhere without knowing a single person in the entire country or even city. Yet, I feel incredibly humbled by this opportunity. I’ll be trading in the ancient temples of South East Asia for the beautiful street murals in Lisbon, Portugal, but I know my life will change again in some way. And I will carry the lesson of understanding and appreciation I learned in Vietnam with me as I go.
This doesn’t mean I’m on vacation, however. Instead, when you talk to me next, I will be helping you form your Texas entity and drafting your formation documents while enjoying the Iberian Peninsula. I will draft your option plan while feeling the breeze rolling off the ocean, carrying with it the smell of fresh seafood being prepared nearby. Finally, I’ll be smiling knowing that I’m indeed fortunate to work for Vela Wood and that I’m prepared to experience Portugal for all it has to offer.
Nic O’Brien – Attorney at Vela | Wood