After almost one year of traveling India, Indonesia and Central America, I’ve become a yoga teacher, a certified open water diver, started offering massage services after watching a YouTube video, secured a stable Mon-Fri freelance gig I enjoy, taught intro to Reiki workshops, led Buddhist loving-kindness meditations, laughed and cried an absurd amount with friends, soulmates, exotic animals and new tropical fruits. I’ve lived exceedingly well-fed, happy and surrounded by good energy in eco-lodges, community living spaces, moldy dorm rooms, a beat-up tent perched on a hill in rainy season, a shack with sandy floors and roommates including three rowdy boys and more than a few friendly crabs.
In November of last year, after quitting my “cushy corporate job,” I jumped on the plane to India with a one-way ticket and a confirmation for a yoga teacher training in Goa. I spent a majority of the 14-hour trip completely absorbed in conversation with Rashem and Ashwin, headed to a country that now feels as close to my heart as New York.
Ten months later, I acted on an intuition to return home, reconnect with family and friends (squeeze in a few film-worthy surprises!), and spend time integrating my experiences. To appreciate what is and breathe.
Over the year, I’ve had the honor to speak with friends, family and strangers about my decision to drastically change the course of my life by quitting my 9-5 for an indefinite travel, freelancing and taking up work trade opportunities to sustain myself. (Disclaimer: No disrespect to all 9-5’s, some rock, mine wasn’t for me!)
On a solo journey, I re-found purpose, more self-love and in turn, grew a deeper compassion and genuine desire for the happiness and wellbeing of all living things. In my last month, I was able to save about $4,500, work 20-25 hours a week, yoga 1-2 times a day, meditate frequently, learn new skills, embrace hobbies, live in the forest and pick my salad greens directly from the permaculture garden.
By contrast, just over a year ago, I was “working” (required to be in the office) 60+ hours per week, 6 days a week, financially breaking even, addicted to ADD medication, eating poorly, neglecting my emotions, feeling lost in a city I once loved and seeking an alternative.
In light of the transformation, it’s baffling how afraid and unsure of myself I was when I quit KPMG. I easily got rid of my lease (and the $1,500+ that came with it). My former company and team accepted my leave and swiftly hired a qualified replacement.
So what keeps us trapped in the mundane complacency that plagues the modern Millennial, disenchants our concept of a purposeful life and leaves us with drugs and alcohol as an outlet for both disappointment and amusement? False notions and lack of trust in our ability to create, thrive and impress ourselves.
I needed to strengthen my self-confidence so that it outweighed the heaviness of concepts ingrained and reinforced subconsciously every day – of course this is the only way to live, why else would everyone I know seem to be doing it?
This personal revelation, centered around the rejection of the status quo and the embrace of a new conscious paradigm shift was inspired by others. As I grew a strong interest in startup culture, social entrepreneurship, motivators like Tim Ferriss, and others offering the tools to try it out for myself, the itch for change grew. A combination of courage, discomfort, inspiration, passion, frustration, and rejection from myself and back from the stale and rigid culture of the corporate world pushed me out the door.
Why not embrace the cliché when it works? Just as travelers tend to return from Rome, Paris, Bali and the Taj Mahal enthralled, quitting a despised corporate job to regain passion in life fails to disappoint. I’m just one of many Millennials who snapped out of it, decided to take a chance and attempt to live more freely. And just like many on the corporate grind, there are times I almost settled. There are particular circumstances that both supported my leap and pushed me off the ledge. I now send immense gratitude and compassion to those who put me down, shook their heads, and pitied me for not having “the right” internships in University.
While I acknowledge the luck and privilege that went into my “success,” I’m eager to share any insights to help others act on their dreams.
The most incredible discovery is that of the power within each and every one of us to not only take, but to create opportunities. To follow our hearts and watch as the love within us grows, strengthens and pours over into the boundless embrace of the universe. To float while staying grounded in our truth, to embrace the shakes and the wobbles and everything that comes with choosing to deeply feel life’s ups and downs. To sit with discomfort and observe the intricate nature of ourselves. To love without expecting anything in return, to the best of our ability while respecting ourselves.
It doesn’t take a one-way ticket across the world to realize these truths, and it doesn’t mean quitting our jobs.
That being said, if you’re feeling the itch – I recommend going for it.