I’ve started this post a hundred times in my mind, but when it comes down to putting it on paper, I always seem to lose the words. Like in every story, the natural place to start would be the beginning, but what if there isn’t a clear place to start – nor end, for that matter?
On one of our family vacations, many years ago, I remember standing at the edge of a cliff in the Caribbean, staring down at the ocean below. The beauty in standing at the edge of anything, is the mystery of what comes next. Quite literally, what came next was warm blue waters… but in the few moments before my feet left the ground, I felt alive. My heart pounded, my body was weightless, and I was entirely free.
Over the years, I’ve chased moments like these. Many of those experiences I’ve shared with you in previous posts, whether the moments were induced by traveling the world, exploring an old shipwreck, listening to a perfectly worded song, or spending time with a good friend. I’m determined to live a life I’ll remember, and to embrace the idea of living every day like its my last.
So, if I died tomorrow, would I be happy with the life I lived today?
I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. It’s strange to think that someone actually has to ask themselves, “am I happy”? The truth of the matter is that I’ve spent a significant portion of my life making decisions based on what other people wanted or expected, whether it be a family member, a friend, or a colleague. While it’s easy to place the blame on them, I alone chose the life. If I’m not where I want to be, it is no ones fault but my own.
Alas, here I stand at the edge of another cliff.
Before I go on, I’d like to point out that I am aware of my selfishness. I’ve been blessed with a large, loving family, and am lucky enough to see them regularly. My family’s drive and intelligence has provided me with a life of comfort, which has given me privileges many others lack. I’ve made many friends throughout the years, including a best friend that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to deserve. I am healthy, and I have evaded serious tragedy, while thousands, at this very moment, have not.
Up until last week, I had a full time job, was on track to make 100k by 30 years old, and was working in the heart of New York City. And then, I quit. I stood at the edge of the cliff, and I jumped.
For those of you who do not know, I’m a social media research analyst, and have been one for over 6 years. I have worked with more than 35 major companies, spanning nearly every industry, from technology giant IBM to CPG expert P&G. I help companies understand how consumers feel, by analyzing social media behavior, and identifying areas for improvement and potential opportunities.
While I often dislike reading the average person’s Twitter post, I do love data. It may seem strange to say, but I genuinely get excited over the influx of information, and having the privilege to decipher that data to find meaning. The problem is, in the end, I encourage over-consumption – of mindless television, of expensive jewelry, and of many items the average consumer can’t afford, but will purchase, because I’ve now helped convince them.
Job role aside, I work in a brutal industry. To succeed in business, you need to play the game. You need to throw on the big girl heels, speak in lingo, associate with specific people, and “act as if” you own the world. I won’t lie to you – it can be very exciting. When I play the game, I play it well. But somehow the game was required more often, and I increasingly felt that I somehow entered politics instead of business. I no longer belonged to a team, all striving to make a company succeed, but instead a foot race, where everyone was on their own. Lead or be led, take or be taken. A world where loyalty was non-existent, and manipulation became one of my top skills.
Is this my purpose? Do I belong here? Am I living the life I was meant to live? Is leaving this path selfish and ignorant?
Perhaps. I’ve been struggling with this for years. To be honest, my opinion will change drastically day to day. If you ask me right now, I made the best decision of my life. I refuse to have regrets when I am on my death bed, and making a purposeful decision to find “my happy” is a wonderful way to start. If you asked me last night, I would have told you that deep down I’m absolutely terrified. When jumping off a cliff, you have an idea of what comes next. In this case, I don’t.
Will I return to this industry? Will I change industries entirely? I’ll tell you what I do know.
- I do know that I want to travel. Traveling lifts my spirits to unimaginable heights.
- I do know that I want to get back in shape. While many of you didn’t know me before I came to New York, I can tell you that I looked much different, in a good way.
- I do know that I want to give my childhood dream a shot. If I don’t try, I will never forgive myself.
- I do know that, whatever I end up doing, I want to make the world a better place. Cliche and overly idealistic, but not entirely unrealistic.
The truth of the matter is that time waits for no man. And so I shall go to war. I refuse to look back, and I refuse to give up. I will not lose any more of myself, because I’m stuck standing still. I want to jump and embrace the unknown, rather than fear the fall. I want to live.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Every once in a while, someone achieves true happiness, in each and every moment of their day. Why can’t that be me? So, while I do not know where I will end, I do know that I will enjoy the journey, until I arrive exactly where I am meant to be.