On a cloudless Sunday morning in late 2015, I dropped the bomb I had been carelessly trying to hide and told my parents and my siblings that I would quit my job in 2017 to travel the world. I spoke not from the position of seeking approval but, rather, with a tone that sounded more like FYI. I am immensely blessed to have a family who encourages independent thinking and who trusts that our passions and potentials are guided by a deep sense of purpose.
Two months ago, when I informed my senior manager about my intention to leave the company, this was what she said to me:
“You know, Rye, the first time you joined the team, I knew you wouldn’t last. You are special – too special, to be precise. You are so in touch with yourself. You’re much bigger than the four walls of this institution, and I can only wish that you grow your wings.”
I seldom explain myself because very few people understand me; however, when I left my previous job, I felt that I probably owed some people some explanation. I wanted to convince people that there were excellent reasons for why some individuals had chosen to walk the road less traveled and to plunge into the waters of uncertainty.
The road called me, so I must set sail. Travel is one of my life’s pillars. I have a recurring vision in my head of mountaintops, quiet East Asian villages, and midnight cafés in New York. I have lived in the US as an exchange student, represented the Philippines as a cultural delegate to India and Japan, and have traveled alone and with friends/family since 2013. However, my trips were limited to short-term stints, and I quickly burned out from wishing I could stay longer in one place and sit with my thoughts more mindfully.
I wish to explore the world of possibilities. For many people, they love their jobs not because they are genuinely passionate about them, but because they have limited experiences to simply dreaming of the endless stream of possibilities that awaits them. My job was great. It offered me the chance to speak Japanese and Spanish at work. But that’s what is sometimes ironically dangerous with a great job. Just because it is great does not mean it is great for me. Sometimes, a great job can keep us from living a big life.
Conventional, office-based jobs stunted my creativity. This time around I wish to own my life, to take more risks, and to gift myself the opportunity to work more independently. I want my life to be a metaphor of ruthless self-expression and self-discovery. For the longest time, I had been afraid of myself because I cared too much about what the world expected from me. When I handed in my resignation letter, I told myself I would build my life around travel and learning, walk to my own tune, and write stories that will inspire people to put their best foot forward.
The status quo is overrated. People waste their time doing the things that do not add value to their lives. Instead of taking the time to explore and discover their genuine passions, they jump from one company to another, forever cross-pollinating the world with their unsure selves. Some stay in one place because their religion is that of fear and risk aversion. Responsibilities, such as family and finances, have become a scapegoat to justify inaction and the inability to identify the parts of their lives they have control over. In place of taking small concrete steps to breathe life into their dreams, they invest their money on a daily cup of overpriced coffee and restaurant dinners they may very well create at home. Then they blame the world for the mistakes they themselves have freely chosen. My decision to travel long-term shall be a reflection of my nonconformist values.
Most people’s lives have been detrimentally made linear. In this day and age, people finish high school, go to college/university, get a job, work overtime, marry, buy a house and a car, render more overtime work, save up, retire, and spend the rest of their lives wishing they could turn back the clock so they could do the things they have always wanted to do with the people they cared about the most. Some people have linear lives that work out amazingly well. But for most people, life has become a series of choosing fear over courage, blind conformity over informed conscience, and comfort over the possibility of having a beautiful life. Most of us have ordered our lives to march like overly disciplined little soldiers. Creative detours are discouraged. We choose to dwell in the comfort of certainty even if it means regretting our choices later in life. Don’t take my word for it. Ask any retiree about his/her regrets and I am certain these are something you would hear:
“I wish I had written a book.”
“I wish I had spent more time with my family.”
“I wish I had learned Spanish.”
“I wish I had built a business.”
“I wish I had volunteered in a camp in Kenya.”
Time will come and all we will ever remember are our regrets – the gifts we had never used, the time we had wasted, the life that we failed to hold on to. Today is the day that I choose to create more margin in my life for things that truly matter.
I want to bless the world with generosity. Everyone has a gift, but such gift is only worthwhile if we develop it and use it as a force for positive change. I care deeply about the world that I feel so much pain at the mere sight of an individual wasting his talents and gifts for a cup of shallow gratification and hedonistic pursuits. I want to fight for this world, because it deserves a lot of love and because it’s the same world that nourishes my life. To be a vessel of inspiration is what I desire to become.
But most of all, I quit my job because I am on a quest to expand beyond my limits. Life, for me, is about pushing the envelope of love, creativity, freedom, and autonomy. There is a big life awaiting us only if we are willing to take the smallest step toward the direction of our dreams. In this culture drunk with materialistic consumerism, I shall strive to BE more instead of having more – to build my life around genuine human connections through travel, to learn more foreign languages, to tread the earth more intentionally, and to approach life with more enthusiasm.
See you in Thailand! 🙂
Did you quit your job to travel, or are you thinking of quitting to make room for what you truly value? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂