A guest post by Anonymous
At 29 years old, I felt that I had the dream life I’ve always wanted, or so I thought. I had worked hard towards creating this life. This included education at one of the world’s finest business schools, and a good career in finance. Speaking five different languages, experiencing exciting life while living in Japan and France.
Globetrotting lifestyle, beautiful, amazing friends who served as living inspirations with their thoughts and deeds. I was also in a long-term relationship with a smart, funny and handsome man, and together we were always known as the golden couple.
I ought to be feeling on top of the world, but I wasn’t. I felt hollow and suffocated within. A little voice in me told me that this may be a dream life for some, but not for me. The free spirit in me craved to be in a profession that’s entrepreneurial and/or creative.
I find joy in penning out my thoughts and weaving them into fabrics of beautiful prose, instead of analyzing endless spreadsheets of numbers, to help multiply a dollar by two-or-three-fold.
My education was supposed to train me to becoming a thinker and a leader, but I ended up becoming just the opposite. I bear the self-imposed pressure to land a great white-collar job fitting of my academic profile, suppressing inner cries to follow my heart and delve into something artistic, which I enjoy.
So what if I love writing or photography? Does that mean I’ll be good at it? My heart is shrouded with clouds of self-doubt about making this drastic career change. A change in which I have zero track record.
I had no experience or know-how about where to begin, even if I wanted to. It didn’t help that my partner of that time didn’t believe in me either and would rather that I kept my stable and well-paying job.
I thought I would carry on this life till I grow old and grey, but over time the inner voice in me grew louder and bolder. It was as if I woke up one morning and decided that this life, as ideal as it might seem, had to end because it was not true to my heart. Making that decision was only the beginning of a long road of challenges ahead.
Well-meaning friends would tell me, why fix something that isn’t broken? Truth is, behind that facade of a young jet setting overachiever, lies a broken woman. Now the task at hand would be to fix and transform her into a new better self.
So how do we start over? Here are 3 simple steps, which I found useful for myself, after the past months of reflection:
Face the reality and do what’s needed
If only life had a reset button that we can press to start over whenever we like, with zero baggage or consequences. But usually, starting over requires dealing with things that prevent us from moving forward and fighting the temptation to go back to our old ways.
I had to let go of a relationship that was my entire world for almost 9 years, because it was not giving me room to be myself. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, and today I’m still grieving and nursing the pain of this loss.
I resisted the temptation to go after jobs just for the sake of good salary and status, unless they were in line with my new objective of pursuing something entrepreneurial and/or creative. It was not easy, especially with all the external pressure and expectations from family, friends and even myself.
Look within yourself for answers
In the beginning, I went to all of my close friends whom I deemed wise, for advice and direction. I clung on to them with all my life and wished they would tell me where to go or what to do. They gave me many good pointers but at the end of the day, the answers were already there, deep within me.
All I needed was to search for the voice that has been muffled over the years, and to listen to it. Not to fall into the trap of thinking that the answers would all come in one magical “Aha” moment, and everything would be crystal clear in that time.
The longer you repress your inner voice, the longer it takes to hear it clearly again. Sometimes the epic “Aha” moment is a culmination of mini moments when you make new discoveries of yourself, who you are and what you want and love.
Time to start over
When you finally have the answers, or enough of an inkling to get going, it’s time to start over. Today is my first day exploring the path of becoming a writer and this is my maiden post. Tomorrow, I shall try my hand at photography, my other passion!
Oddly enough, the go-getter in my previous life as a working professional would never balk at trying new things. But in this instance, insecurities of my writing ability are crippling me. As cliche as it sounds, “you never know unless you try”.
Perhaps with time I may realize that I’m not cut out to be a writer but the important thing is that I’ve taken this first step and the many baby steps after. It’s always intimidating to take the plunge into unknown grounds, so be sure to surround yourself with a few “cheerleaders” to push you forward on the jumping board. Even when all you wanted was to retreat back in your cocoon of self-doubt.
If you managed to read this post, it is thanks to my faithful cheerleaders, who rooted me on, even on days like today, when I feel small and uninspiring. Thank you for reading.