5 lessons from the road less traveled

When I left my job, little did I realize I was actually embarking on a journey of self-discovery.

Now nearly three months in, and accepting of my chosen fate, here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

1. This road is lonely

While I have met others on this journey and have created deep, loving relationships with them, I also realize that the vast majority of people I’ve known prior to this journey see things very differently than I now do. They see things the same way that I used to. That’s what makes this journey feel so lonely. Looking out and seeing people living on the surface.

Also, only a few people will notice the transformation in you. Keep an eye out for those people, because they are of the 5% that are curious about making a similar move for themselves. One example of this is of my closest sister. We’ve been talking daily over the past couple of weeks. She realized that there’s more to life than the vicious cycle of mediocrity that she is living in now. That’s not to say that she is not wildly successful from an outsider’s perspective — she is. But she wants to be wildly successful on the inside too. And by successful, I mean happy. At the end of the day, that’s the only true measure of success.

2. Most people just accept what is, few don’t

Doing something for yourself is unusual. Most people accept what’s been given to them as fate. They don’t think they have a choice to change; they call their life, “the hand I’ve been dealt.” They become so busy merely surviving that they forget to design a life. I also realize, looking back, that I was in that position, too. But at “rock bottom,” I realized I needed to make one of two choices: medicate myself in stronger doses and keep pushing forward in my meaningless life or do that thing that most people call “a big mistake.” These doubters know all too well about this “big mistake”… having never done it themselves…. Rather, they’ve made a bigger mistake. They gave in and pushed through in mediocrity.

I can’t say that my choices have led to consistent happiness and bliss, but these feelings certainly come up more. I also feel tied down less. I feel free. I feel connected. But these states all result from consistent practice — committing myself to my inner values and refusing to partake in temptation that runs counter. It’s a daily grind. A daily commitment. To better oneself and bring more value to the world. Most people won’t get it. Don’t worry about them. Focus on the few who do.

3. Everything meaningful is within

I’ve become infatuated with virtues and principles and godliness and spirituality and equanimity. Why was I not consciously practicing these things before? It’s not that I had not been living by my principles before. I was, to an extent. However, I had not thought of measuring my progress, nor consciously practicing specific values, nor had I been studying how to become a more principled person; a more ethical person.

I recently found this saying,” The man who is willing to give up everything had everything; the man unwilling to give up anything has nothing at all.” I couldn’t feel more grateful for such wise words of wisdom. These words rang so true for me. I have also given up a lot during this time. Through that, I’ve come to realize that I never really those things after all. I have myself. I have my values. Everything else is fleeting.

4. Reading is transformative

I did not anticipate gravitating towards reading during this time. I thought I was going to start a business. But as I started working on that business proposal, I began to experience some familiar feelings from past jobs. Feelings related to purpose. Taking a deeper look at the new business plan, I asked myself: Does this feel purposeful? Is this something the world needs? The answers: no and no. So back to the drawing board for me.

In part due to desperation, I gravitated toward my bookshelf. I looked for a book that would help heal my tender soul. Something that would tell me I was on the right path and that I must not give up. But most page counts were a bit high for my longing for instant gratification. So, with less than 150 pages and photos included throughout, I chose The Hidden Messages in Water.

Oddly enough, that book did exactly what I needed it to. It filled up my cup so full and so quick, teaching me to approach all things and all beings with love and gratitude. These lessons have stayed with me and made me a better person. They also enticed me to learn more, by picking up another book.

Now 13 books in, I’ve transformed. To pick the right book, I read the description, followed by Goodreads reviews (at least one 5-star and one 1-star review), and I also just go with the titles that feel right for me (like The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin). But to be honest, some of my favorite books during this time have come from recommendations from others on a similar journey of self-discovery.

5. Writing is the product of connecting with one’s soul

Every time I write, the writing feels like it came from somewhere outside of myself. To think that any writing came from this ADHD brain is illogical. It’s not coming from there; it’s coming from somewhere deeper. These words exist in a space-time greater than the eye can see and the ear can hear. When I intentionally sit down to write, the words come into my soul and flow out of me. In a sense, words are guidance from the divine.

When I reread my writing, I often think: Where did this come from?

I have yet to find out.

One thing I do know is that my writing is some of the best advice out there for the person I once was. We’re all best suited to help our future selves and the future selves of those struggling with similar issues. If that isn’t a good enough reason for each of us to find our creative medium for guidance, I don’t know what is.

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