I worked endless hours; I single-handedly maintained the marketing, photography and management of the accounts of more than 200 clients. Running a new business and mentoring upwards of twenty interns a year took a violent toll on my happiness, as well as my art. A couple years into this despair, I finally began to feel some semblance of direction - following plenty of soul-searching. Fueled by my frantic urge to run away and inspired by my lifelong fascination with traveling the world, I decisively closed up shop and eventually took the necessary steps to lead my life into a more positive direction.
A myriad of “rebels” like me have cashed in their chips; they’ve thrown in the towel and run as far and as fast as they could from the ravenous soul-sucking machine of the every day grind. They’ve abruptly stuck it to the Man, left their jobs and pawned every possession in hopes of pursuing real happiness. They’ve begun to make the imperative changes needed to live again; to improve their quality of life. If you’ve ever felt purposeless, bleak and stagnant and you want more out of life, you don't need self-help “bibles” or “life coach” gurus to show you the way. The resolution is ultimately right in front of you, and with concise exploration and meditation, you’re the only source of help that you’ll ever need.
This may sound proverbial - the first step to solving your problem is admitting you have one. The good news, however, is the solution can be quite simple from there. Personally, my only objective was simply a driving need to reconquer my feelings of self-worth and appreciation. My path had me puzzled until I identified my needs and understood my longing was to simply escape from the clutches of the predictable boxed-in world around me. While I knew travel wasn't the only way to reclaim my life, I had a premonition that, deep down, it would single-handedly restore my happiness and perspective.
Traveling abroad to faraway lands where nobody speaks your language and everything seems to be twisted upside down can tremendously alter your ego. It forces your eyes and heart open to a new understanding. Change can be painful and uncomfortable at times, and although travel isn't always a walk in the park, it can become an enjoyable and life-changing journey, instead of an unknown adventure to fear.
I'm a travel essayist and visualist, rather than a motivational speaker. Nevertheless, I’ve found that when discussing such topics with dreamers and wannabe life-livers, I seem to rant on my imaginary soap box. My thoughts and speeches seem to immediately qualify me for admittance directly into the nearest insane asylum. It blows my mind when I see so many individuals that accept unhappiness for years - sometimes even decades - by letting themselves go; by settling or choking down the lazy pill (or so it seems). Please don't settle for soulless jobs, or let unplanned children and destructive relationships defeat the remaining vestiges of your life. Wherever something's amiss, don't just accept and tolerate it by letting it bring you down; learn the solution and strive to move forward. Happiness is impossible without appreciation, so count your blessings.
The primary reason to quest for change through traveling the world is to experience the beauty that comes with expanding your mind, ditching stereotypes and judgmental behaviors and pursuing your own form of perfect imperfection. As the French say, aller au fil de l'eau, meaning 'to drift with the stream,' so just go with the flow. True traveling tears away the precomposed psyche, intrusively humbles the core and instills wisdom. And if you’re lucky, you gain new perspectives and gain worth by virtue of vital experiences in different cultures as well (if you let it happen). When I say 'travel' I don't mean a cruise through the Bahamas or a penthouse vacation on the French riviera - I'm talking about nearly-stranded on a shoestring budget, living and learning the authentic culture while meeting the locals and immersing yourself in their realities, even if just for a moment.
Like what I have to say? Great. Hate what I have to say? Even better! Because either way, it made you think. Life isn’t about predictable, expected realities. It’s about how you grow; how you change in those moments of true discomfort. Who you are is nurtured by your experiences and the choices you make, from each and every situation of your life; both substantial and seemingly inconsequential. Next time, I’ll be rehashing my life-altering experience of traveling abroad for the first time. Until then, I want you to ask yourself, “How do I feel about MY life?” Are you stuck in a standstill, spinning your tires? Are you willing to embark on the next adventure that comes your way? Whether you’re experiencing a full-on nervous breakdown, teetering on the verge of a mid-life crisis or having those first twinges of discomfort, let me assure you of something: it’ll all be okay! It may take some mediation, realization and planning, but I promise, you can begin living your life, your own way.