Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Like I’m Alice in Wonderland and growing giant way too fast for my self to catch up. Like these growing pains are leaps and bounds and I don’t know what to do with myself. Like my soul is stretching and my body feels awkward housing it.
Down the Rabbit Hole
It’s all down the rabbit hole from here. I don’t know which way is up or down anymore. Nothing makes sense except for the will to keep going, learning, and discovering. Discovering that I have a strong personality, and fierce independence that makes me proud of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Discovering that I am happy, despite the overwhelming confusion. Discovering that who I am is enough.
Traveling to Asia and seeing what life has in store for me has been a whirlwind. For a self-proclaimed homebody (and I’ve been keeping to my word here), I have found that I have an adventurous side that loves to travel and discover. I am full of paradoxes, and a traveling homebody is just one of many. I’m off the deep end now. About to leave for a Zen/Buddhist monastery in less than 24 hours. My thirst for travel getting stronger.
I guess what I mean to say is goodbye. I don’t know. I don’t know how else to write without sounding like fluttering butterflies and hearts and wings. I can’t help that I’m a romantic. And that I’m a dreamer with my head in the clouds, and my foot reluctantly planted on the ground. I can’t help that I wish for things like epiphanies and true presence. I have no idea what I’ll get out of my experience in the next four months of asceticism, or what exactly it is that I’m “searching” for, but I come with no expectations.
Recently, I realized that I’m essentially going on a Pilgrimage of sorts this year.
At least, that’s where life seems to be taking me.
Pilgrimage: In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance.
What started out as a year of personal freedom, growth and opportunity has lead me to thinking about things bigger than myself.
It Started in India
In January, I worked at a “slum school” teaching kids English. The funding was so poor for the school that they did not even have walls. This makeshift school was conducted completely outside, within the cooler morning air, and the elements. Half of the kids didn’t even have shoes to wear, or lunch to eat. A typical house looked like it was made of mud and dirt, with tattered tarp roofs made of plastic and rubber tires. Despite the poor conditions, I was told this was the “nicer” slums. Families had TVs, or a communal TV that villagers would share.
I wish I could say this was some sort of transformative experience that gave my life new meaning. But it wasn’t. It was just four hours a day of teaching kids their ABCs, assigning them letters to write in repetition, pointing out random letters to see if they knew what they were, going through the alphabet together. It was just four hours of putting my work in and then exploring the Indian streets every night to ride rickshaws, look at the street shops, and refrain from buying anything because I didn’t want to haggle and I didn’t want to get scammed.
Sometimes, transformation happens slowly. In gradual steps, rather than a rush or sudden epiphany. I’ve got this idea in my head that I’m supposed to help young girls inspire and empower them to do great things, despite being dealt bad cards. I don’t know where this idea came from and I’m not even sure how to do it, or how to start something so huge. I’m not even sure I’m the one to do it. I mean, who IS this humanitarian chick anyway!? Where did she come from? Is that even…me?
(Oh, and she hates to admit it but she’s getting a little God-y too.)
Ideas need time to bubble. Maybe this is a calling, because the idea won’t shut up. It’s simmering, for now, just waiting until the day when it’s ready to come out. Not all ideas make it that far, of course. Most don’t see the light of day, but I’ve got a feeling about this idea, and it’s worth holding on to. I’m not sure how it will turn out, or if it’ll see the light of day, but I have to try. I have to let it sizzle.
I don’t know where this year will take me, or what I’ll learn at the monastery, but I’m betting this is part of the process. Am I crazy or delusional? I mean, really? I don’t know know what the heck is going ON with me lately.
Suddenly, I’m thinking of my life like the book Eat, Pray, Love. One divorced woman’s journey to find herself, and achieve balance through prayer (spiritual), love (sexual) and good food while traversing the world. So I don’t have a Brazilian lover, like she did, but I don’t want to be fucking Mother Theresa really either (um, I didn’t mean that literally). As much as I hate having a plan, I’d like to think I could envision myself with someone in five years. And still with [whomever that] someone [is] in ten. I don’t want to be Mother Theresa. I know right now I can’t dedicate my whole life to a cause. I want balance. I want to be able to fuck when I want to. But I also want to be part of something bigger than myself, whether that means starting a family, or starting a revolution. I want to [help] change the world.
This year, I am on a Pilgrimage. Wondering where my transformation will take me, and what lays around the bend.
I am part of Matt Chevy’s Life Without Pants project, The Epiphany Moment! Check out the other videos on his website.
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I recorded this video 5 months ago and it’s funny what can happen in nearly half a year:
I got fired from a job that I hated. I was planning to quit anyway, due to my travel plans, but they fired me a month before I had planned to throw in the towel. I have never gone into detail of this moment in my life because I didn’t want to write about my work life in a negative manner. The situation is far enough removed from my life now that I feel I can elaborate more. As a graphic designer, my career path has been shaky. I felt that I wasn’t utilizing my degree and wasting away in a dead-end job worst than Kinkos. It’s a bit like designing the Yellow Pages, except I was “designing” hospital forms. In addition, I was managing a one-woman print shop for a good portion of a year before the company hired on an assistant. I learned administrative duties, bookkeeping and customer service; I did it all, but as a graphic designer, I felt I was severely lacking on portfolio building work. In retrospect, I am glad to have had the experience because as often is the case in the corporate world, it helped set me up for my next stage in life as I attempt self-employment.
I made a (more or less) career switch. I am now self-employed, and loving it! I am a social media writer/blogger updating Twitter and Facebook accounts and blogging for company accounts. I don’t consider myself “successful”, in the traditional sense of the word. I make enough to sustain myself in Asia but less than half the amount I made at my previous job. I see myself less as an “entrepreneur” and more as a “hustler” at this stage of my career but as soon as I can get more clients things may change. I’d love to tie this all back with my design skills somehow, but right now, I’m enjoying my time as a writer.
I moved to Asia. I didn’t end up volunteering in the Himalayas of India like I had mentioned on the video. Last minute organization changes with my volunteer program had me placed in and around New Delhi, India, but I have loved every second of it. I currently live with my family in Cebu, Philippines. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to get out of this whole experience, specifically, but that’s the fun in the journey. I hope to travel to other Asian countries during this year, but have no formalized plans. I hope to live a sustainable, location independent freelance career by the end of the year, and have enough money/income by the time I return to the states to move to San Francisco (ish), California!
If you can follow your heart, you can do anything, and I am proof of that. Dream big, and live the life you want, right now!
Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. – Anais Nin
Anais Nin helped me in my process of becoming. My epiphany moment happened at a time after reading a simple quote. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Just like that, I knew I had to change my life and live it the way I wanted to, needed to. For myself this time, and not some lover.
I’m proud to be collaborating with Matt from Life Without Pants. Since the recording of my video, before going to India and then moving to the Philippines, I have had a few more epiphanies, so to say.
While working with the slum school kids in India, I had a rush of feeling and emotion come over me. It’s been over a week since I last graced that land and I still haven’t found the words to describe it. How do I even begin to approach such a topic and do it justice? Even as a writer, it’s hard to find the words.
India was the first time I experienced a moment of clarity while teaching. I felt like I could truly be a mother someday, and that I want to be. It was an indescribable feeling of awe in myself and my faith, and I just knew. The same way I knew I would see Metallica and that I would travel the Philippines alone. With that quiet determinism that I have once I make up my mind on something, I just knew.
While the topic of being a mother has always spinned my mind, especially as I get older, I’ve always been either/or on it up until now. I never felt so strongly about it until I worked with the slum kids. Yet, the thought of settling still makes me anxious. When my friends in the Philippines get envious of my lifestyle of “travel and adventure”, but then ask me where I’d like to live, and they mean where I’d like to settle down in, I have absolutely no clue. Even other fellow travelers I’ve met in India have told me they want to settle down and all I can think of is that that’s the death of me. Yet, somewhere in my being, I must want the same if I want to raise kids? The concept is backwards to me.
Before going out in complete panic, I remind myself that I’m here, now, in the present and I should stay here because the future does not exist. It is merely a concept to fill our heads with worry and anxiety. With quiet determinism, I know I will raise a kid and I know that it might not be the most traditional way (because lets face it, I am far from traditional), but it will work.
These moments of clarity are worth living for, and I hope to have more throughout my year, and my life.