As I flip through one of the four airplane magazines from the seat pocket in front of me, I catch myself staring at a tropical beach photo -- you know, the one's you see in travel magazines that have a dozen or so straw umbrellas hovering over lounge chairs, nestled on a beautiful sandy beach overlooking a blue-green ocean.
Suddenly, I realize that I now have the freedom to go to those places. I no longer have to dream about them like everybody else.
It was an exhilarating feeling of absolute adventure -- sort of like what you feel on day one of a two-week vacation, only amplified to encompass an entire lifetime.
I'm writing this post from a WiFi lounge in London's Heathrow airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Bangalore, India. A few short months ago, I never could have imagined myself being here in London.
Now here I am, sitting among dozens of fellow travelers -- some traveling for work, some for pleasure, and perhaps even some nomadic travelers like myself, headed to an unfamiliar place on a mission to rediscover themselves.
The twenty-three hour journey to India is giving me plenty of time to think about the impact this lifestyle change is going to have on my life. Every time I look around the airport and realize that I'm not traveling for work or vacation like most of the people around me, I get this twisted feeling in my stomach when I realize that this freedom is my life now.
The entire world is knocking at my door and nothing can stop me from greeting it.
I'm living the dream I've had since I was thirteen.
I'm a world traveling, nomadic explorer!
When you've got a calling -- when every ounce of your existence is telling you to do something -- there comes a point where you can no longer ignore it. I reached that point where I simply couldn't put this off any longer. Holding it back -- holding it all inside -- was beginning to destroy me. It felt as though my entire life was being slowly extinguished.
But the transition up to this point wasn't easy.
I left a secure job with great coworkers, got rid of my only means of transportation, and reduced my physical possessions further than I thought possible. With no travel experience outside the United States, I'm now on my way to the opposite side of the planet toting just a single backpack and the clothes on my back.
The most difficult part of this transition, however, has been the emotional impact its had on those I love. Nobody likes to intentionally inflict pain on others -- even if it's indirect and will result in your own eventual happiness. It still feels wrong.
When I have tough decisions to make -- when I'm feeling certain conflicts inside -- I don't resort to emotional decisions. I rely on what my morals and my instincts tell me is right and wrong. Sometimes things work out for the better. Sometimes they don't. But whatever happens, I always know that my actions were based on decisions that were made by being true to myself; by being honest with myself.
Being honest and true to myself is very important to me.
What good are we as human beings if we cannot even be honest and true to ourselves? If we cannot even trust our own instinct or listen to our inner calling, what right do we have to exist?
There's only one person who's going to change your life for the better. There's only one person who is really going to make you happy. There's only one person who will make you free.
That person is you.
You cannot rely or depend on anyone but yourself. You have to trust yourself to handle any situation that gets thrown at you. You will handle it. You might make the wrong choices and you might fail miserably, but you'll handle it. And when you come out the other side, you will have learned something. You will have grown. You will have improved.
You have to be ready to accept failure. You have to accept that you don't know a damn thing.
The only way you're going to learn is by failing. Over and over and over. Accept that and suddenly you have no limits. Suddenly there is nothing stopping you from doing what you love. Suddenly the impossible seems doable. Suddenly life has more meaning. Suddenly you are the owner of your happiness.
Travel Update: Be sure to check out The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
This post brought tears to my eyes. Don’t ask me why, it just did. You inspire me, Raam. I’m utterly happy for you and I know you will enjoy this adventure. I have fail at many things in life and I’m okay with it. Like you said, we grow when we fail because we learn to not make the same mistakes again. At least sometimes we learn but not always.
As long as we recognize when we’ve learned from our mistakes and when we haven’t, we can make course corrections along the way. And that’s what life is all about. Making little adjustments to our life (or big adjustments, like the one I’m making) and continuously checking and correcting our course.
Thank you for the kind comment, Pholla.
“Suddenly you are the owner of your happiness.”
With great power comes great responsibility 😉
So true, Sid. That’s why I feel it’s so important to take charge of our happiness. Why would anyone want to make their happiness someone else’s responsibility?
Hi! Just found your blog thanks to your tweet (@ruth_gs)… It’s very interesting! I’ll keep reading till I fall asleep! 🙂
First of all, I’m really happy to see that those airline magazine’s pictures of beautiful beaches and peaceful chairs overlooking the blue sea have inspired such a nice feeling! I’m only saying that because I work in Marketing for a hotel company and had to produce lots stuff like that in the past!
Learning that some people can see beyond the “BUY/SPEND” message and find a world of possibilities was the first thing that made my day when reading your post.
As I kept reading, I loved every word of it, because it reminded me of every time I felt that freedom, when y0u know that the world is all yours for you to explore.
And yes, in that journey, a lot of people will not understand you, or think you are crazy… but they are just dreamers, not accomplishers.
About failures, the best memories from my trips are failures and problems, they spice up the adventure! It’s a great part of the experiece when you realize that you are alone fighting an unknown wold…. and what a way to learn!! I have to admit that I’m becoming addicted to that…….
Great post! Looking forward to learning what will be the next step in the journey!
Hey Ruth! Thanks for reading!
I’ve never heard of anyone talk about marketing by seeing beyond the buy/spend message. I think you should really pursue that idea — I think you can make a serious name for yourself.
Marketing should be fun, not fake! If you want more info on how you could build your personal brand around such an idea, I recommend checking out the book Crush It!. I read it twice on my way to India and it changed my perspective a lot!
Failures definitely add spice to any adventure — including the adventure of life! I look forward to sharing my lessons.
Thanks again for the comment!
You are right… I prefer to believe that I’m selling experiences and not a fake product. Every time I run a campaing I secretly wish that the customes dare to leave the premises of those beautiful Caribbean resorts that we sell (leaving their narrow minds in the pool chairs) and go out for a real adventure.
I try to encourage them through our social media efforts, even though sometimes it’s fighting against the current…. That’s my stubborn conscience! 🙂
So are you staying in India for a while or going wherever life takes you from now on?
I’ll carry on selling my soul to the system, till I can get holidays again! :p
I’m staying in India for a while… I don’t really have a plan. I’m going wherever life takes me from now on. 🙂
My rough plan is to stay in India for another two months or so and then head to Nepal and possibly Vietnam, before going back to the states to visit.
As I sit here and read this post from a few months ago, I get a feeling of excitement as I prepare for my journey ahead. Looking back is the feeling of adventure and excitement just as strong for you now as it was when you wrote this? The words here ooze excitement as I can picture you giddily typing away on your laptop at Heathrow. Great read!
Yes, four months in the feeling of adventure and excitement are just as strong as they were on that first day. Every single day when I wake up and realize the type of life I’m living (even if it is sometimes uncomfortable and on a tight budget), I feel so lucky and so fortunate. The sense of freedom, the sense of exploration, of possibility, they’re all still there.
Being able to work from my laptop from wherever I want, take a one day or one week vacation at a moments notice, and experience life in new and unusual country every few months is absolutely incredible. The inner changes have been significant too. Here’s something I wrote on Facebook on the 4 month anniversary of my new lifestyle:
I hope your journey is equally as rewarding! I look forward to hearing all about it! 🙂
Hi Raam, your this post had inspired me a lot. I am about to embark on my first ever solo trip to India and Nepal. I am excited and scared at the same time. Excited because this is my first ever solo trip. I am going to be on my own. This very thought of being on my own and having complete freedom to do what i want to do creates a tinge of excitement. At the same time, it is scaring me to hell. Since i am very shy and introvert kind of person, I’m scared that I’d feel lonely. People would laugh at me. My family would think i am crazy going solo. I haven’t told my family yet. Don’t know how’d they react when i told them. I hope everything turned out to be well. Am hoping this solo trip would help me get rid of my extreme shyness and self-consciousness.
Sorry for bad english 🙂
Congratulations on your decision to go! I have no doubt it will be a life-changing and rich learning experience! Being scared is good sometimes: It pushes us to grow past our self-imposed limitations.
I am a new person because of the six month trip that I took… the experiences it gave me were priceless.
I wish you all the best on your journey and I would love to hear more about it when you go! 🙂