'My Boyfriend Ghosting Me Led to a Life-Changing Experience'

When I was 25 years old, I experienced a pretty big burnout.

After graduating college in France in 2008, I started my career in communications and marketing. When I entered the job market, there were very few opportunities in my field, so I moved to Sweden, where there were more and the quality of life was fantastic.

From there my career took a turn and I ended up working at startups, first as a project manager for big clients and later in sales. It wasn't the career I had imagined. After six years in that industry, I was exhausted. It felt like a bad way to start a career.

Despite my high-pressure roles, my financial situation was terrible. I was not paid well and had a student debt of $30,000, and a third of my income was spent repaying it. I didn't have any money to buy plane tickets and so very rarely went home to France.

Sophie and Ryan
Sophie Darsy lives on a 40-foot yacht full-time with partner Ryan. Ryan and Sophie Sailing

I always knew that I wanted to travel. In my younger years, I imagined that my job would allow me to see the world. I thought I'd become a flight attendant but realized I'd be better off as a passenger, so I focused on finding a job to finance my traveling.

Around the same time as experiencing my career burnout, I was dumped by a boyfriend in a really difficult way. I had been with this guy for around a year and we decided I would move into his apartment and rent out mine.

But he must have had a change of heart; a month later he disappeared. He completely ghosted me, it was absolutely bonkers.

I believe he went back to his parents' house for a while, but every time I came home, someone had been inside and packed my stuff up into bags. It was just terrible, but it did make me realize losing that relationship wasn't a big loss; I felt I had dodged a bullet.

So I went off to eat ice cream and swipe through some dating apps, and that's how I met Ryan. I noticed his profile straight away. He had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume on, which I thought was really funny.

One thing I thought was lacking in the Swedish men I had met was the ability to laugh at themselves, but this guy seemed to have a sense of humor. We met and really hit it off. I joke now that he was my rebound.

Sophie and Ryan
Sophie met Ryan on an online dating app after experiencing a difficult break up. (Ryan and Sophie Sailing)

Ryan is a very adventurous and athletic person. At that time he was a climber and a week after we met, he was visiting Greenland to do some polar survival training.

And he was just a couple of months away from going to Nepal to climb Cho Oyu, which is the sixth-highest mountain in the world. He was also training for an ultramarathon—we were both big endurance athletes at the time.

But on one 30K run before the marathon, he encountered a Canadian goose and her babies. She thought he was attacking her babies, so the goose flew at Ryan, who ran away and slipped in a pool of mud, dislocating and breaking his shoulder.

He had to have massive shoulder reconstruction surgery and was feeling really down about it, until one day he was browsing the internet and found this article about a couple about our age, who had quit their job, bought a boat, and sailed the world.

Sophie and Ryan
Sophie and Ryan were inspired after seeing an article about a couple who had quit their careers to sail the world. Ryan and Sophie Sailing

Ryan sent me the link, like he would with any other article or funny video, but instantly I asked him whether he was serious. I knew that was something I wanted to do. We started talking about it more and more and eventually decided we would go for it.

At the time, we had only been dating for two months and knew nothing about sailing—my friends laughed at me so hard when I told them our plans.

Around a year after making our initial decision, we took a two-week sailing course and committed to buying a boat. We spent two years sailing around Sweden and within that time frame started creating individual freelance businesses, quitting our jobs altogether. I was working in social media marketing while Ryan was working in consultancy.

By 2018, we had built up our new careers and had enough savings to set sail around the world for six months. Ryan was really nervous initially, but I was ready. Yes, the risk was huge, but we were young and I knew we had so many adventures ahead of us.

Ryan and Sophie
In 2018, Sophie and Ryan moved onto their 40-foot yacht full-time and set sail around the world. Ryan and Sophie Sailing

Before we left, Ryan and I were living with two incomes and no kids. I was making around $5,000 per month and Ryan around $7,000. By this stage I had sold my apartment and moved in with Ryan, so we were able to save quite a bit of money.

At that point, we had around $50,000 in savings, but they disappeared very quickly in equipment and boat-related expenses. During our first year at sea we learned to live with a lot less.

Currently, the two of us spend around $3,500 a month, because that's what we can afford, but we know so many people who sail the world on different budgets. You could spend $1,000 a month if you really wanted to, or lots more. It really depends on the kind of boat that you have, your destinations, and the type of sailing that you do.

Financially, living on a boat is unstable because, depending on where you are and the state of your boat, it's difficult to plan your expenses. One break on the boat means you could be hit with a $3,000 bill, so we always need to keep some money aside for repairs.

Since setting off, we have been from Scotland down to Portugal and Spain in the Mediterranean, and then across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, back to Europe, and then back across to the United States.

Sophie and Ryan
Sophie and Ryan have visited various countries including Scotland, Portugal and Spain. Ryan and Sophie Sailing

What really makes living and traveling on the boat so special is that wherever it is that you go, you're going to be living like a local. When you travel by airplane, you normally book a ticket, arrive at an airport, take a taxi to accommodation, and stay around that one area.

But when you're on a boat, you get to explore many different sides of the same place, and you end up having the same needs as a local; you go to the supermarket, hardware store, dentist, or doctor.

That, to me, is the richest part of this experience and what keeps us going for more.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that no matter where you come from or what your social-economic background is, we're all looking for the same thing. We all want safety, we all want a job. We all want our families to be safe.

Ryan and I try to remember that always and to be as open and inclusive as we possibly can.

Sophie Darsy lives on a 40-foot yacht full-time with partner Ryan. They run the YouTube channel Ryan and Sophie Sailing.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Newsweek's My Turn associate editor, Monica Greep.

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