Thinking about the last 2 years, I am blown away. How did I get here? How did I make another one of my dreams a reality? That’s quite an abyss to explore, and I will attempt to do so in Wandering Souldier’s upcoming second anniversary post. For now, let’s wrap up the year with a reminder that we need to work hard and fumble in order to accentuate the best times in our lives.
This holiday season and the coming year(s), give yourself the gift of living out your dreams. Live the life you envy. Life really is too short to spend it being completely comfortable or any form of unhappy. Every day I’m reminded how precious life is. I remember losing a classmate back in high school to a drunk driver, watching my college roommate get rejected from 9 different law schools because her grades dropped from irresponsible life decisions, and feeling helpless when getting messages from friends who are afraid to let go of the steady paycheck to go after what they want. Recently, I’ve started working with a holistic energy practitioner/therapist to clear away a few demons lingering inside my head. Every time we talk, she drills a pattern into my head that says we must first create and embody what we love to do and the money, recognition, whatever we’re seeking will follow. It can’t be the other way around.
When I look at passersby, I’m filled with such love and compassion for my fellow humans. Seriously, we are all so amazing and capable of more than we realize, and we’re currently living in a very futuristic era where nothing is impossible. So channel your focus and passion into what you love to do. It won’t be easy, as I’m constantly reminded, but the journey will be worthwhile.
This year, I turned 25. On the scale to 100, 1/4 of my life is already behind me. It’s pretty amazing. Jokingly, I kept asking my mom what my quarter-life crisis should be. She always fired back at me,”Why do you want to have a crisis? How about no crisis at all?” A crisis doesn’t have to be a bad thing though. Having to choose between three dresses, destinations, or dinner restaurants can be a crisis without the consequences. I didn’t have to choose a crisis though because a storm was brewing all on its own.
This year, between sporadic trips to opposite corners of the world, something unconsciously snapped within me. I found myself standing at a crossroad with a myriad of different paths and opportunities. Should I go teach English overseas, find a temporary job back home, fully transition into freelance writing, go back to school, keep doing graphic design work, what? Feeling overwhelmed by my choices, I sort of crawled into a fetal position choosing not to pursue anything at all. At home, life became easy again, and I got lazy.
Reading through one generic job description after another, I felt uninspired. Here I have all of these stories and creativity without the right environment to appreciate them. Whenever I clicked submit on a new job application, I wondered why I was applying for jobs in the United States. Why was I researching work visas and permanent residency in Australia and Canada? When I know I am destined to be living and working in/from Japan, why am I denying my heart’s desire? The paperwork, criteria, and process of finding work abroad was so time-consuming, tedious, and at times, frustrating that it was easier to throw my hands up in surrender. All I wanted was fast cash without losing my pride working a minimum wage job so that I could go back to traveling and develop a full time, location independent career. How nit-picky, pretentious, and ambitious is that for a twenty-something beginner? I needed a dose of reality, some tough love, and to face my demons and insecurities head on. What choice did I have other than to accept and embrace that with any new venture I’d have to start at the beginning?
Though the near future is still blurry, I’ve come to realize that teaching English overseas, while it may be a stepping stone towards something great, is not the right direction for me. Recently, however, I found A starting point for my life’s trajectory. I started working part-time at a Japanese grocery store where I get to practice my language skills in a semi-professional work environment. Doing so has really rattled my nerves and started cracking the walls I’ve built around my mindset. Like I said, I’m not exactly sure which direction this job will take me, but at least, I’ve taken the first step.
Other than that, I’ve taken this down time to improve my concentration and memory retention by focusing on one task at a time, spending less time online, not watching American television, exercising the mind and body, cooking, reading more books, and of course, diligently studying Japanese. Slowly, I’m learning to be more expressive, articulate my thoughts better, worry less what others think of my decisions, reciprocate the kindness people have shown me on a daily basis, and understand deep down that the only person I’m in competition with is myself.
While I’m still lost in this twilight zone, career wise, I have a clearer vision of what I’d like to accomplish in the next 5-10 years. I know that I can get there, but the struggle has been in finding out how. The ultimate goal is a marriage of a more stable writing career and some kind of humanitarian work where I can work in the USA or remotely for 6 months out of the year, travel for 3 months, and spend 3 months in Japan. What I need now is to rediscover the drive, courage, and curiosity I had when I left for my RTW trip last year. The trail to get there will be long, winding, and bumpy, but I’m excited (and a wee tad nervous) to get beaten up along the way.
For my last 4 birthdays and Christmas, I’ve asked friends and families to donate money to a charity of their choice, a cause or a movement that they felt passionately about. This year, I’m tweaking the instructions. (1) Find a locally owned restaurant in your city and treat a loved one to a nice meal, (2) do your holiday shopping at locally owned mom-and-pop shops, (3) give at least 30 minutes of your time to someone in need (i.e. soup kitchen, veteran’s home, shoveling your neighbor’s driveway), or (4) donate money to a charity of your choice. If you choose the charity route, I highly encourage you to first research where your money goes and the impact of your dollar.
Upon the arrival of my twenties, I’ve realized it isn’t about receiving gifts but sharing your gifts with others. Of course, if you wanted to send me a GoPro Hero 3 or a plane ticket from the USA to anywhere, I won’t argue with you. As a gift to myself, I’m taking the next week off from writing to spend time with family, and make a plan for the new year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me through this whole journey. We shall talk, celebrate, dream, and begin again with a new canvas in 2014.