A year ago today, I have made a bold decision to leave the corporate world and dive into the unknown. If you didn’t already know, I used to work as a Human Resource practitioner for two years. I left the nine-to-five career schedule when I realized I was trying to fit in a world I don’t belong.
Before, the way I saw how life should be lived was to follow a pattern that’s already programmed for us humans. All I ever wanted was to finish college, get a decent job, save up, get married by 30, have three kids, send them to school, watch them grow up and have kids of their own, tell stories to my grandkids, grow old with my then-partner, retire from work, enjoy the remaining years, and then… die. But everything changed when I started traveling.
It was my dream to build a successful career out of my college degree. For a certain period of time, I loved and enjoyed my office job, but I reached a point where the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. The work was burning me out and I was no longer happy. The workload seemed to constantly pile up with no end in sight. It was physically and emotionally draining.
One day, I was too busy in the office and I could only wish to for an extra pair of arms to finish the tasks at hand. I paused and looked around at my colleagues who worked for 30 or 40 years in the company and soon enough will be retiring. And I thought to myself, “Do I really want to live life this way?” I couldn’t bear the image of me working behind an office desk for the next 40 years, writing memorandums, handling employee complaints, computing salaries, relying on vacation and sick leaves to travel, the list could go on. There’s surely more to life than this mundane human existence.
I was terrified to change careers. It took me months before I had the courage to pen my resignation letter. What would happen to me once I leave this job? What if this decision is wrong? What if I’ll regret it? What if I fail? What if… Then I took the risk to jump off the ‘corporate world’ cliff and dive into the waters of the unknown. The longer I stayed on the ‘platform of doubts’, the more the fear built up. And I’m glad I did because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I left the corporate world to work as a freelance. It did not offer the same security and stability of an office job for a couple of months, but it allowed me to do the things that make me happy. I don’t know what my life would be like had I not taken the risk. If I had always taken the safe and certain paths, I wouldn’t have traveled to places I had been, I wouldn’t be spared from the heavy traffic that commuters have to deal with every day, or I wouldn’t have the freedom to work wherever and whenever I want.
Making bold decisions require patience and sacrifice. Taking risks is not an easy feat. It can be terrifying and uncertain. It is not for everyone, and because of that, I’ve seen so many dreams die. I cannot guarantee you convenience or the absence of failure, but for as long as you know ‘why’ you are doing it, you will find what you’ve been looking for, and sometimes even the things you never thought you needed. There is no space to grow in the known, in our safe zones. It is in the uncomfortable and unknown places where we often find growth.
I am not saying that you should leave your job. You don’t have to do the things I did. We take different paths. But if you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel depressed and burned out, give yourself some self-respect, and do what you love and what makes you happy because you deserve it. As with many things, taking the first step is always the hardest. But if you keep one foot forward every single day, you’ll be surprised where those steps will take you.
Whatever it is that your heart desires, whether it is working in your dream company, or changing your college course because your parents chose it for you, or developing an app, or telling a person that you like him or her, or traveling to other countries, do it. A dream only starts to become real when you turn your “I want to be” to “I must be”. As cliche as it may sound but we only got one shot at life. Let’s make the most of our time while we are still alive.
I don’t know where life is going to take me but I certainly know one thing: whatever is waiting for me in the unknown is my next greatest adventure. To end this post, let me share the wisdom of one of my favorite photographers, Chris Burkard:
Uncertainty over everything else is probably the most critical thing in our lives for growth. This is what allows us to live rather than just exist.