I don’t know what’s provoked me to write this post. But here I am, writing down my learning, reflections and everything in between from the year that has been.
In many ways 2016 was a different kind of laboratory experiment – it has been Year 2 since I quit my ‘job’ and every semblance of certainty that had come along with it. So if Year 1 was about braving the big bad world on the outside, Year 2 has been about braving my equally (if not more) scary inner world.
And without further ado, here are 6 quotes summing up Year 2 after I quit my job –
“Assume nothing. Question everything” – James Patterson
This time last year I was in the throes of confusion.
It had been a year with no job and a first with no steady income; a year of silently bearing witness as every plan I had conjured got derailed. Demoralisation came easier than expected. A year of uncertainty had put a lot of strain on my otherwise positive disposition towards life.
But in the aftermath of letting go of the 9 to 6, it was my ‘illusion of control’ – that came from holding on to some version certainty – that had been chucked out of the window and I had had nothing to hold on to.
I began 2016 with a nerve-wracking and excruciatingly painful process of locating my inner compass – also known as the voice of reason.
Like many others, I had muted mine out. But locating it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t do that on my own. So I sought professional help and along with my therapist began to puncture every belief – personal, professional and otherwise – that wasn’t serving me well anymore.
I began being my own devil’s advocate.
I stopped assuming and starting questioning, almost incessantly. Needless to say, old habits die hard. But they do die. Especially when you are relentless.
The trick however is to know when to stop questioning and when to let go and move on.
This was the beginning of some BIG letting gos for me.
“Stirring sugar crystals lying at the bottom of my cup of tea, in the stillness of those moments up in the mountains I was forced to contemplate on a friendly reminder to myself — the “wisdom to know the difference”
The difference between ‘carpe-ing the diem’ and ‘delayed gratification’
The difference between ‘ignorance is bliss’ and ‘knowledge is power’
The difference between ‘act then think’ and ‘think then act’
The difference between ‘letting go’ and ‘holding on’
The difference between ‘being the change’ and ‘changing your being’
The difference between ‘the person you once were’ and ‘the person you have the potential of becoming'”
“Be impeccable with your word” – Don Miguel Ruiz
In the process of finding my voice of reason, it struck me strange how misaligned my thoughts and actions were.
I wanted to travel more and travel deeply, with a purpose and bring to life those experiences through words. I still do. And yet either fear or inertia (which is fear wearing a mask) would sap the energy out of me. Instead, I found myself seeking and sometimes even saying yes to opportunities that were not aligned with my intentions. Why? Because I was letting ‘money’ be the decider!
I had to acknowledge that nothing was going to change if I was not going to change my approach. For that, I had to stop measuring my story against everybody else out there who had quit their job. Or not. Because in my pea-sized cranium, I was inflating their success at the cost of my own journey. And this was not healthy.
Slowly, my travels have become what they once were – more personal and less public.
‘Delayed gratification’ when posting online became the oars I used to steer my way through the waters.
An even more significant shift happened when I began breathing life into #BeYouForYou. I was scared about putting myself out there and running these expressive writing workshops. But having had the privilege of doing four of them in 5 months, I know that nothing makes me come more alive.
This has been my beginning of honouring what I want for myself by putting ideas in motion.
‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch’
…The most challenging part of my story so far!
I have mentioned that I have a rather positive disposition towards life; in that, I like to believe that things will come through – eventually, if not immediately. This, as I would come to learn, takes on a very different avatar for a hungry-and-starving-for-work-and-food kind of person like yours truly!
Which is to say that for a fairly long period of time I would prematurely celebrate every positive outcome in the guise of a conversation or an email about a probable collaboration or work opportunity.
Sadly, premature celebrations are mood-killers.
And in spite of knowing this, I have struggled to not lead myself on. Talk about being your own cheerleader.
But having uncertainty flirting with me rather intensely for the past two years has finally taught me a thing or two about not switching into celebratory mode until I have received my dues for the projects I have worked on.
A part of me was and still wishes everybody else around me was also impeccable with their word. And I can hear my inner realist sighing ‘wishful thinking’.
A beginning about another kind of delayed gratification.
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight” – Japanese proverb
There is so much during this past year that hasn’t worked out the way it was supposed to and much of this has fallen apart at the eleventh hour – when I was least expecting it. Travel plans, potential projects, workshops – you name it, everyone of them has taken turns in making me feel like I’ve accidentally stood on a Lego block!
In addition, I have had my inner demons (on that note, have you met Mr. Boa?) take over and make me doubt my every intention of choosing this path – whatever this path is. On a real bad day, I have doubted my very existence and purpose.
Disclaimer: I cannot and do not intend on fool-proofing my life.
When I decided to quit my job, I knew it stemmed from a place of wanting to know the answer to my many ‘what ifs’. I knew I was taking a risk. I also knew that if things did not work out, I would return to the workforce. At least, I’d be wiser because of my decisions and experiences. Wisdom – something my two Master’s degrees had failed to provide me with until then.
In standing up every time things have fallen through and I have fallen apart, I have learnt that it is never too late to course correct and start afresh.
Easier said than done? Yes, and absolutely worth it!
Because when things didn’t work out, I learned that it did not mean I was a failure; it simply meant that the method or the approach deployed didn’t work. And I’ve said this to myself when my bank statements have plummeted to four and three digit figures.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do” – Brené Brown
Everything about the person I am in the here and the now has its ties in me wholeheartedly being accepting of myself; my quirks and peeves included.
It’s taken me this entire year to tell myself that…
I am not a somebody only if I cross X number of places off my travel bucket list*.
I am not a somebody only if I see X number of articles written and published under my byline.
I am not a somebody only if the work I do allows me to earn X amount.
I am not a somebody only if another somebody approves of the choices I make.
Because over the course of the year, I have cultivated enough self-compassion to absorb the brickbats and stand not just by my decisions but also the consequences of my decisions. Even when I earn in 7 months what I once earned in a single month!
I have travelled a lot less than I would have liked to this year partially because I couldn’t afford all of it and partially because I do not see myself travelling merely for the sake of travelling (also known as social media posts).
#HaveFeetWillTravel is about travelling with a purpose. I want to be able to engage with the world around me in a way that allows me to contribute one way or the other. And I want to take #BeYouForYou to many more people around me in 2017!
*P.S.: I do not have a travel bucket list.
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” – Zen Buddhist proverb
If you’re expecting me to say that I have found the key to the crypt of Life and unlocked it, then I am afraid I am going to disappoint you.
I am no less confused about what lies ahead than I was in 2014 when I quit my job. It’s not like my travels have armed me with a crystal ball. But two years later, instead of the anxiety, I am training myself to retain my wide-eyed wonder of looking forward to another year and its own kind of roller-coaster ride.
2016 saw me launch my own venture – Be You For You
2016 saw me become a bigger fan of long term slow travel
2016 saw me continuing to write to challenge myself and my readers
2016 saw me struggle and conquer my inner demons – professionally and personally
2016 saw me weigh in on self-compassion to tide over both professional and personal hurdles
2016 saw me learning to say NO to things that don’t serve me well – professionally and personally
I’ll still continue scavenging for work and looking forward to collaborations with kindred souls with a little less self-doubt and little more self-assuredness. I’d like to believe Rumi when he said, “What you seek, is seeking you”.
Let’s work together
I’m open to both, workshop as well as content collabs. Let’s explore