Since last year I've been travelling to untouched places and trekking across the Himalayas. Upon starting this year, I decided to quit my job to travel, starting from Spiti Valley for a month in Jan'17 followed by a couple of treks. To tell you, it wasn't easy to actually take that decision. I was excited and a lot more nervous, as I might not have enough money after my one-month long trip to live all the different fantasy versions of a traveller's life and to fulfil my basic necessities. But I took a leap of faith and there is no going back, that is for sure.
Past few weeks I have been really busy with travelling, managing cash crunch because of no source of income and struggling with a job offer to Canada for which I couldn't say Yes.
So just yesterday, my Dad asked me what exactly I want to do in future. I had no shortage of response for him. I told him how I want to explore India on a Bike, visit the North Pole to see Northern Lights and explore Khamchatka for unexplored volcanoes and ice caves. Further telling him how I wish to do Mountaineering course from NIM which will help me achieve my goal of 24 treks in 2018 and to climb Mount Everest someday and how I would love to settle in the least populated village of Spiti Valley.
I guess all of my plans and dreams could be confusing for someone but instead, I was left confused. Upon which my Dad added, 'but what work do you want to do which will give you money to achieve all these plans?'
And I just stared at him and everything was still for a moment until it became awkward and I repeated, 'I would love to move to Spiti Valley'.
Let's rewind 7 Years.
Teenage me had to focus. She had a plan and she aimed to be a successful Fashion Designer. She was always of Art and Design since 6th standard. Though she was not a really good scorer because of her no interest in Maths and Science all of her teachers said that she is a brilliant and sharp student, all she needs is to draw a lil more attention towards studies. Despite her mind telling her that a lot of things in books are probably senseless and never going to help in achieving her dreams, she obediently studied them more than her interest. She completed all the homework with the utmost quality that she always got a "good" "neat" "excellent" and what not. She swotted for exams last minute that she'd forget everything the day after but also knowing that it wouldn't matter, as long as she continued to get good enough grades to get into one of the best colleges in the country for Fashion Designing.
Yes, she got into the college she wanted. She worked hard each day to make the best of her college life. She scored the highest in her batch and completed her graduation with Grade A. Her career goal was to establish an apparel brand and her inspiration was the renowned designer of our country - Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
Well, she was always updated with the fashion trends and was a fashionista during her college days. She started working towards her fashion blog from 4th semester and planned to launch it only after her final semester as she wanted to keep her focus on studies first. After her last exams were over, she started putting up content on her blog which turned out really well (You can check them here) until she was told by her friends that 'She need job experience to achieve the goal of establishing a brand'. She was easily convinced and joined a startup which meant less time for oneself, leading to no time for blogging.
I think my Teenage me had a scary amount of passion that was growing inside her, but she didn't let herself embrace it fully.
She was only trapped with the idea of "a successful life came from a successful career" because, in India where work hours are long and vacations are non-existent, your career is your life, right?
No, not right. I now know Teenage me was wrong. Well, she was only 16. Though every once and a while I do wonder if it's 22 years old me who has it wrong. Because teenage me made a lot of sound decisions as well.
Apart from being a fashionista, she went on a couple of treks solo when she was just 17. She convinced mom and dad for all the college tours which actually made her explore that she has a thing for travelling.
At 19+, she joined a startup where she worked happily for only a month after that it was old usual drama, politics and what not. While she was struggling with her first job, she planned a trip to Spiti Valley with a couple of friends. Spiti Valley was a dream destination since she was 15 something. She saw a picture of Spiti on Facebook and from that moment it was the only place she wanted to go before she dies (Limited vision problems).
With all the planning, cancellation, people opting in and out and blah blah, she went on this trip. Annnnd it was sheer heaven. A trip made of 5 people, 2 tents, 3 sleeping bags, 5 mattress and 2 Jugadu blankets (because 2 more sleeping bags were not available for rent). Really? Who does that for the first trip that to an unexplored place? I can never Thank my teenage me enough for being so courageous and confident for all that she did. Because in this world of spoon feeding, she would have opted for an organized tour than planning it on her own. Well, she did a wonderful job as the trip went amazingly crazy. It was actually a dream come true.
After that trip to Spiti Valley, the love for travelling was something I couldn't ignore. I kept on travelling to places and trekking in Himachal Pradesh while I was working but it was really painful to afford a week's off or convincing the boss for leaves every month. Well, a week's off was hard to get, that I sent an email to my senior telling him that I will be taking a month off in Jan 2017! Yes, you guessed it right. *drum rolls* It was instantly rejected. And that's where the story began!
Watch : Spiti Valley | Winter Ride 2017
I was sure that I was going to Spiti Valley in Jan 2017. There were no ifs and buts. It has to happen. I made the decision of quitting my job and went for this crazily adventurous trip for a month in harsh winters. Well, I can't tell you how the trip was! You should definitely check out my Instagram for a lot of enthralling photos and exciting stories. After coming back to home, everybody asked me to apply for another job or plan out something for future but I wasn't interested. I wanted to go with the flow. I wanted to follow my heart.
Earlier I used to think that life would be scary without a plan, but now it's the thought of sticking to one that scares me.
After a month of being away from home, living every moment to the core and just following my heart wherever it takes without bothering about society, money and what so ever.
Because you know the world feels too big, too complex and too alluring to settle down in one corner. What I have understood is that pursuing a passion is about narrowing your focus and making your passion your everything. And I have just spent the past one year doing the exact opposite, traveling and widening my horizon.
And now I just can't imagine having that sort of focus, especially not for a job. The promise of monthly pay cheques or social reputation simply won't motivate me anymore.
I am surrounded by people who have found happiness and success in their careers and yet I'm still not quite interested to follow their footsteps. And this is maybe where travel has made me selfish. Because if money isn't going to motivate me to pursue a career, then surely making a positive contribution to my family should? Yet I find myself not quite ready, or frankly, willing.
Trust me, on the list of things that are important to me right now, my career doesn't even make the first page. I am mostly planning about which corner or which peak should I be choosing next. And while teenage me would definitely be shocked to see the life I'm living now, I'm hopeful that middle aged me won't mind it too much or rather be proud of my decisions.
I guess I should tell you guys that Travel didn't kill my passion, it just changed it.
There aren't many people in the world who are in a position to opt for such decisions. I am pulling it off because I only have to support myself, I have a citizenship in a country where I don't have to work for crazy hours to earn living, I am healthy, have a home which will always welcome me no matter what and the list of things to be grateful for goes on and on. And I appreciate those things and take full advantage of all.
Well, I am yet to explore the world but all I can say is the world is beautiful and awe-inspiring. People who have travelled the world says, 'the world is still a better place to live' and there's no better way to restore my faith in the world than witnessing how endlessly diverse, yet equally beautiful it is.
A piece of advice to all the teenage readers - do not worry about college and social reputation, just be who you want to be.
And with that advice, along with publishing this post, probably makes me officially the world's worst role model. ????
But then that's one more thing travelling has taught me. The world is big with an endless number of ways to live in it. You can be what you want to be, there aren't any rules. Follow your heart is what it takes!
How often do you feel alive?
This post was originally published on It Is In The Name.