When I started writing and teaching yoga, I believed that my Admin job in Newark, Delaware didn’t fall in line with this new lifestyle, because how would I ever have enough courage and freedom to travel the world, teach, and write underneath bodhi trees and temple ruins? I was barely getting a week of vacation, and my bucket list destinations violently exceeded my financial give-and-take. So, without a second thought, I quit, because why not burn a bridge to an income in one fell swoop…? I also severed ties with managers and colleagues who were none the worse for decent company. With a perception that I was now free as a bird to fly the world over, I took a step outside and was instantaneously hit with the reality: I have no idea what I want to do, and I certainly have no means of getting there. Much sooner than later, I was broke, stuck, and depressed. What I failed to realize, upon reading article after article, was that every author who decided to cut ties with their typical 9-5 had an inspiring dream that was solid and workable in the background. That was their Holy Grail, what they chipped at day after day. The only thing I had after I quit my job was a blurry memory that tasted something like their inspiration. What I didn’t have, however, was enough money or time to plan a dream that I actually cared about.
I never asked the question: what is my own dream? What is my deepest heart’s desire?
When we know this, when we can see it play out in our mind’s eye like a movie, we can go. We can go chase after it, be overcome by it, and pave our journey in accordance with it. To those of us, I say God speed.
But for the rest of us who are in the dark, we need to keep reading.
There is a fine line, often blurred in the sand, between being inspired by someone else’s dream and following one of our own to manifest. There is an even finer line in building the blocks to our dream, and it’s all a delicate process that asks for time, patience, and trust.
My story is common. It’s even more common for us millennials who seek that thrill and adventure, and honestly? Who doesn’t? All of us, at one point or another, have read articles that inspired us to quit everything and pack up a suitcase and hope our passports were current. I love that inspiration! I love the goosebumps I get when I read stories of people who’ve done that, who’ve stepped out into that unknown and explored it with all of their shaky might. But those moments equaled their dreams, not my own.
I realized, and I’m inviting all of us to realize this, as well, is that what inspires us doesn’t have to be a part of our big plan. Someone’s take-off writing career doesn’t have to force us to uproot our own life so that we’ll maybe start to live “the dream” in a faraway country, just because it satisfies our lust for adventure. Leaving the life that we’ve created now is only beautiful when we leave to go towards something bigger, not when we leave to escape from something that makes us smaller.
The hardest part is building the dream, but it’s also incredibly simple when we stop making it so rigid. Dreams are fluid; they are limitless. So, in order to have one, we have to abandon control and manipulation over it. What lights us up? What gives us goosebumps when we do it? What would we continue to do if we never got paid a single dime for it? And then here’s the work behind the scenes: we go and do that, both with passion and reality. When we allow our dream to uplift our spirit and soul, but also let it tether us to the ground so that we never lose our footing, we begin to honor the balance that only works in the middle on equal scales. This is on what we stand when we finally proclaim our own ridiculous happiness.
We should never quit. Take it from my story. Our dreams can never be tarnished by what we do for survival. Having a job and earning money, especially when done in areas that are far from what we’d like to do, are still vital. We sure as hell are not defined by our job, but it does allow us to keep our dream reachable. And honestly? Let’s be real. Money is money. We need it, we’re worthy of making it, and it’s OK to want it. Dreams are beautiful, but they also cost. Don’t let the rosy-colored daydream of manifesting this beauty cloud the basics.
A job is, after all, just a job. We go to work. We put in the hours, even if it sometimes feels like a slow death. But then we go home and we’re, once again, with our dream. We give it attention and time and effort. We do it because we absolutely couldn’t wait for the workday to be over to do it. I’m a strong believer that, eventually, through this dedication, our dream grows and strengthens and our vision for it similarly aligns. And eventually, space begins to open up in our life where we can finally take that step that inspired us so long ago in others, but this time, it’s our step. And it will feel right, never scary. And it won’t feel like a risk. On the contrary, it will feel more right than anything ever has.