Last June, in Paje, Zanzibar, I am sitting at a hostel bar on the beach. Toes in the sand, drink in my hand. Talking to a girl from the States that I met earlier that day. After a few drinks she is telling me about how she has been traveling for a few months and planned to indefinitely. I am inspired and tell her that is exactly what I want to do. I would love to travel and focus on writing. She asks, then why don’t you? Hmmm. Good question. Because I love my job. I am happy. I make good money. But I do really want to.
We end up drinking more (and more) and later that night she records a dark video of my drunk ass sitting next to her, looking right into the camera saying, I quit my job! I am going to travel the world! Arms flailing and everything. I do hope I never see that video but also kind of want to because that moment in a way, changed my life.
While I say this on her video, I do mean it but still have a few doubts in the back of my head. How can I leave such a great job that I have worked so hard to obtain? How can I leave all of my friends? What if I travel and never meet anyone because I am always moving around from place to place? How will I make money?
The fear talking. The same fear that talks to you anytime uncertainty is present. When someone breaks up with you and you are heartbroken. What if I don’t meet anyone else? Why don’t they love me? Is something wrong with me? What if I am alone forever? Or you get fired from your job. What am I going to do now? How will I make money? How will I pay rent? Or even when you have a good relationship and you are the one who is thinking about ending it. What if I am just scared of commitment? What if they are the best person for me and I am going to mess it up? What if I hurt them? Who will I be friends with now? What will I do on the weekends? You get the point. Fear makes you question everything. It wants to keep you safe.
So on that same trip I end up meeting a guy who is an expat living in Tanzania. We will call him The Boy. I think the Universe knows that love is the quickest way to get me to make moves in my life. I am naturally a lover. So I meet The Boy. We spend 5 days together, every minute of those 5 days. Together. I meet his friends, we talk about our deepest fears. What we want in life. What makes us happiest. What we wish was different about ourselves. And we laugh. So much. More than I have laughed in a long time.
It is the first time in years that I immediately click with someone. Being with him feels natural. Like I can be myself completely. I really like him. I tell him about my conversation with the girl at the hostel and the video. The next day, he says, I have a crazy idea. If you really do want to quit your job and travel, you are welcome to come stay at my place for free and use it as a home base to save you money. You can come here when you want, write, and then travel when you feel like it. He says I know it sounds crazy but I really like spending time with you and I haven’t felt this way in a long time.
And it IS pretty crazy. We have only known each other for a little over one week but I am all about doing what feels right. I tell him I will think about it but it does sound like something I am interested in. Isn’t this just the Universe handing me a way out to get where I wanted to be?
BACK TO REALITY
A few days later, my holiday is over and I am back in Los Angeles at work. I still feel burned out even though I just got back from a three week long vacation. All I can think about is traveling. And what I said in the video. When she recorded it, my soul felt excited. I ask the Universe for guidance to help me decide if I should make a move.
A few days later at the office, we are called into a meeting. Our boss announces that our department is going to go through a major re-org and my position will be eliminated. I am not being fired but will most likely need to take a position in San Francisco or New York if I want to stay. Wow.
It has been two weeks since I left Tanzania and I am still talking to The Boy every day. Video chatting in the morning and again in the evening. We are officially dating now. He is my boyfriend. I have a boyfriend. I tell him what happened at work and how I think this is a sign that I should leave. It is the perfect time to make the move and live the life I have always wanted. He agrees.
I still decide to interview for the other positions to give myself some options. To be safe. So I do. And I somehow end up being offered an even better job, my dream job. But in San Francisco. Shit now what do I do. It is funny because on the airplane on the way home from Tanzania, I was reading the You Are a Badass book and there is a part that says when you make a major decision in the direction of your dreams, you will be tested to see how badly you want it. This is my test.
I still take some time to think about it. So many times I stare at the contract and almost hit the ‘Sign and Submit’ buttons. The job is amazing, one that many people would dream of having. I should take it. It is the responsible thing to do. I have worked so hard for it over the last three years. It is a huge pay increase, with a company I love. It is safe. But there is still part of me that feels like I am supposed to travel.
At this point, it has been three months since I met The Boy and we are still going strong. But I love California. One day I decide I want to stay. The next I decide to leave. The Boy didn’t ever ask me to turn down the job but did make it clear he really wanted us to be together. So I finally make a decision. The number one reason for my decision, which I think is really important, is that when I think about taking the job in San Francisco, it doesn’t make my soul excited. But every time I think about traveling, I get butterflies. Still a part of me must confess that the relationship is what helps put me over the edge. I am in love. So I turn down the job and leave the company. It is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Believe me, I cried for 3 days straight when I left. Just ask anyone on my team.
I buy a one way plane ticket to fly back to Tanzania. To live with The Boy. I am super excited. I will finally be in a happy relationship. It has been a few years since I have been in one and I am so ready for it. And even more importantly, I get to travel and write. Everything I have been wanting. Life is fabulous.
The week before my flight to move to Tanzania, The Boy starts acting weird. He is telling me strange stories and seems stressed when he is telling them. I never really understood anything he was saying but long story short, I find out he has had a serious girlfriend for the past 4 years. As in he still has this girlfriend and doesn’t plan on leaving her. Then why was he encouraging me to come live with him? Why would he even want to? What was the point? How did he even have time to talk to anyone else? We talked all of the time. He was so sweet to me.
My heart is broken. I am pretty angry he sat there and watched me turn down my dream job when he knew our whole relationship was a lie. I cancel my flight. Now here I am with no job, no income, no plan, no boyfriend. For a little while, this is pretty hard for me to deal with. A few days before, my life was “perfect”. Now, everything has changed.
A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE
I am sad for about a week. Thankfully, I quickly realize I am now free to do anything I want. Anything. And it also occurs to me that if I hadn’t met him, I would have most likely taken the job offer and moved to San Francisco. And that isn’t what my heart really wanted. But I couldn’t see it then. It was like he was sent in my life just to give me a reason to not take the job. And then when I turned it down and was on the right path, his job was over and he was gone. And we haven’t spoken since. Now here I am, traveling the world. Living the life I said I would that night on the video.
The reason I am telling this story is because of all of the times in my life when I wasn’t able to see things this way. Especially when my heart was broken. I didn’t realize I had the ability to change my perspective at any given moment. When life came crashing down, I didn’t think I could handle it. I have stayed in dark places for way too long. And someone reading this may be there now. I want to help you. Others may see my life from the outside and think there are no obstacles. Think I am always happy. Wish they could have the balls to chase after their dreams like I am. I want to show you that I am the same as anyone else. I have doubts. The fear makes me question things. There are obstacles. There is heartbreak. The difference is that in any situation, I am now able to see the bigger picture and be thankful that this is leading me in a new direction even if I don’t know yet where that direction is heading to. I don’t stay stuck questioning them. Or try to hold on to the life that was taken from me. It is okay to be unhappy, it is part of life. But while you are unhappy, you can still train your mind to see that this will all change. And this situation may even be the biggest blessing of your life.
Okay, okay. When something hurts us, it is not always easy to see this. One thing I do want to mention is that this does not make it okay for others to treat us badly. Or for us to justify their behavior. But after someone does hurt us, we shouldn’t let them keep hurting us, long after they are gone, by staying stuck in it. It also doesn’t mean to live your life always faking it. Thinking positively does now mean you have to always try to be happy and not feel anything. Feeling the emotions is part of the process. The point is to learn how to feel them without letting them consume you. Not letting your fear keep you stuck in the pain. Keep in mind that you are being guided to something greater. Feel the emotions. And once you are ready, let the situation go and be thankful you are heading in a new direction. With endless possibilities. You can now do anything you want.
THE OBSTACLES ARE GUIDING YOU
What if all obstacles are lessons, detours in the right direction? If you genuinely knew this, would you be able to embrace them more lovingly?
Think about a time in your past when something happened that shifted your life in a new direction. It wasn’t what you had planned. You were comfortable. You were happy. You felt like you were unwillingly forced to start over. Your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you. You got fired from your job. You didn’t get the job you knew was meant for you. Something happened that messed up “your plan.” A time when you were so hurt that you didn’t think things would ever get better.
Now think about where you are now. Something you love about your life. Somewhere in your life where you wouldn’t be if that situation had never happened. You see, sometimes the most painful obstacles or “setbacks” arise because it is the only way to get you to move on a different path. We can all feel when something isn’t right. When we aren’t quite where we always dreamed we would be. When we are craving more. But we are comfortable. We are stuck. Something major needs to happen in order to set us free. It is the only possible thing that can happen where we will finally leave the situation we are stuck in.
EMBRACE THE UNCERTAINTY
While obstacles can be extremely painful, I challenge you to embrace them. Blindly. Without judgement. Without needing to know why you are in this situation or what is in store for you in the future. Try to have faith in yourself that everything will be okay. When you let go of the life you planned, you never know where you will end up. All you have to do is train your mind to see the opportunity. And be thankful. Always.