I didn’t quit my job because I hated it!
Once upon a time, the corporate life was my dream lifestyle. Meetings, work travel, chasing sales targets, ratings, raises, weekends, everything about it gave me a high. I wanted to climb up the ladder. Management books were my friends and successful CxOs were gods. I really can't tell when I started to develop a hole inside me all while still living the corporate dream. I can't tell when I went from being excited about Mondays to waiting for weekends; the realisation was not sudden for me, I didn't wake up one day and decide to quit my job. I knew that there was more to life that I was missing out on, and I also knew that it was still not late to figure things out.
If my love for corporate life is an infatuation, then what is my true love?
What is it that I wanted to do? Most of my friends and colleagues suggested that I figure that out first, start a side hustle and then quit my job. But that somehow didn't work out- I had to take a leap in faith and focus full time to figure out what I wanted in life.
Parting ways with a full-time job wasn't easy... I was doing very well, my management had a great career path ahead of me and no matter what, a decent figure was hitting my bank account to live my life in Bombay. And as an independent woman raised by a single independent mother, I'd never want to depend/burden my partner to pay my bills and EMIs. It took over 1 year to gather my courage and accept that the more I wait, the harder it gets to give up my job, get out of my comfort zone and explore something new. I couldn't wait for a crisis to make a decision and change my life.
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What gave me the guts?
I always took breaks to travel while working. Travelling assured me that I can have all the freedom in life while travelling and making a living. I met so many people on the road while backpacking in Europe who freelanced in different sectors, earned decently and had the freedom to explore other aspects of life. Deep inside I longed for that. I followed people who were renowned bloggers- who had started everything from scratch. Women like Shivya Nath, Neelima vallangi, Alex Reynolds, Gloria Atanmo, Rachel jones are a true inspiration in shaping my thoughts about solo travel, cultivating a conscious & matured lifestyle, and breaking stereotypes. Their stories re-assured me that it's okay to live life in reverse order.
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I had announced to my management that I was going to quit my job 6 months down the line (I also did that so that I don't change my mind and stay back). I started to cut down on all my expenses to save money. I didn't buy anything new that I didn't need, stopped eating out, didn't travel fancy and started to keep my expectations low on almost everything. All of that only made me happy. I prepared my mind to be content with worse situations. I saved up money to sustain for the next 6 months. I had to make some short term plans to start with. I always wanted to travel as a volunteer, which was not possible with a full-time job. I started travel writing and journaling travel stories on a humble blog a year ago. Not many people read it at that time, apart from friends, family and a few colleagues. I knew there was a lot of scope to improve there and that it would be fun to learn more about blogging. With these two plans in mind, the last working day had come.
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Struggles and mistakes
The major struggle was to sustain the blog in 2019 with every 10th person aspiring to become a blogger/influencer. I was not a lucky early bird. Freelancers' numbers boomed with every passing day. Simply writing about my itinerary or posting what I did during my travel was not going to be enough. I had to be different and give unique travel perspectives to my readers.While putting my soul into travel writing and volunteer traveling with different organisations, I panicked because I was not getting any substantial paid assignments and was running out of my savings.
I had little knowledge and experience in the blogging space. I didn't know how much to charge or how to establish my terms before accepting a gig.I took writing and marketing projects which paid peanuts and worked 13-14 hours a day to meet deadlines. A few projects took way longer than I expected, and a few clients exploited the naive me by publishing my work and not giving credits. I almost burnt out and wondered if I made a mistake by stepping into the real world barefoot. I had nightmares of going back to the corporate job.
On the brighter side, I had this small amazing community of readers who made my day/days by sending me messages about how reading an article I published was inspiring and what I am doing is brave. I didn't know where I was getting these readers from, which meant it was reaching new people.
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Growth and Learning
When I look back, I was a different person. I left pieces of my soul along one road and picked up a few on the other... I learned to be modest and kind while never forgetting what my worth is.
I changed the way I travel. I had travel dreams and a never-ending bucket list of places to visit and things to do... Ignorant of climate change and sustainability of the planet. I realised my wishes, dreams and bucket lists are too small when compared to bigger issues like climate change. Today I do slow travel, avoid flying as much as I can, practice a vegan lifestyle, am conscious of what I buy, where they come from and embrace the wonders around me and find inspiration in little things no matter where I am.
I learned how not to sell my soul to get projects or brand tie-up's. I never write or promote something that I didn't experience personally, I decided not to work with brands or organisations who are not responsible towards the environment. I recently turned down a commercial 4-day project which meant decent money and flying to one of my dream cities- New York. However, my conscience wouldn't agree to taking a transcontinental flight just for 4 days, which also didn't have anything inspiring or new to learn. I have no regrets and am thankful and content with my growth in making decisions like this.
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What am I up to currently?
I currently am working on my blog, taking up freelance assignments with brands/online publications, and am associated with a passionate, wonderful NGO - that works on animal rights and environmental sustainability. Financially, I am making as much as I used to make while having a full-time corporate job and am immensely grateful for that. It's not easy- I don't get paid leaves, public holidays, health benefits. The struggle to sustain is a continuous process! But yes, I traded all the above for time and freedom, which no one can put a price on.
Connect with me on Instagram @bhavya.vatrapu