Losing your job can be scary, but it can also be the kick in the ass you need to start living your truth. It certainly offered me a newfound perspective.
By the end of a nearly decade-long tenure at AOL, I had amassed almost 20 years of work experience in media and technology. Mind you I wasn’t entirely surprised by the pink slip, it was AOL, after all. But when I think about all the time I spent in those hallowed halls, it’s accompanied by the sad realization that although I can remember the color of the Ploum couch in our marketing huddle, whole chunks of my life are a complete blur.
- Truth: The last few years leading up to losing my job had been a personal nightmare.
- Truth: I had no idea what I wanted to do next.
- Truth: I desperately needed a reset.
Conscientiously taking a break from your career has the potential to reveal the possibilities and unexpected pathways life has to offer. It takes a moment to decide if you can carve out the time without suffering too much financial hardship, and once you do, the only thing you need is enough bravery for a leap of faith.
The faith I had in myself revealed a courageous heart, one strong enough to book a 2-month solo adventure through Southeast Asia. The plan was to discover new and unfamiliar places, specifically Siem Reap, Cambodia; Vietnam; Bali & Java, Indonesia, while reacquainting myself, well, with myself.
It takes a boatload of chutzpah to travel on your own, and, even more, to willingly spend time alone with your thoughts and feelings, absent of everyday distractions and social obligations. My time abroad helped to uncover my childhood dreams and aspirations, to remember who I wanted to be, and to recognize the person I had become.
Every day was a journey and some days were harder than others but it was all possible once I learned these valuable lessons:
- Look for the beauty in every day. Every Balinese day begins with offerings for the gods in exchange for protection or prosperity. It’s hard to miss the colorful trays on the sidewalks outside storefronts and hotels, temples and waterfalls filled with saffron and jasmine petals, coconut and banana leaves, incense, rice, and sweets.
- Take things in stride. On every trip, like every project or job, something is bound to go awry. Enchanted by the idea of overnight train travel, I booked a tour in Vietnam on The Reunification Line. Most cars felt like a prison cell block with metal cots, frigid temperatures, and an occasional roach sighting — a far cry from the superliner. Unpleasantries are temporary, an inevitable part of the travel experience that ought not to affect the overall journey.
- Practice gratitude. Be positive; be thankful. Cambodians are years behind their contemporaries, after suffering unrest and genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime well into the 20th century. Every person I met exhibited poise and respect, warmly welcoming me to their homeland, sharing their stories and circle of friends. Some of my most precious memories were from consciously receiving their kindness with grace.
- Take the time to listen. Every morning during my yoga retreat I woke to monks chanting in the distance, the wind rustling through bamboo trees. There is a lesson in every moment if you are brave enough to listen carefully: to yourself, to the people around you, to the sounds of nature, even to the silence.
- Be present in every moment. I spent countless hours exploring the ancient temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, marveling at its architectural magnificence. That first sunrise, I could feel the souls of every being that had come before me as I walked through its passages. When traveling, or working for yourself, as I would find out later, you can experience life at your own pace.
Everything everyone says about time is true, it waits for no one — something we lose sight of in the busy-ness of our lives. Between school, career, and family we acclimate to the life we’re living and sometimes forget to nurture our dreams. Don’t you think it’s about time you rediscover yours?
Photo Credit: Pixabay