Two thousand and fifteen has been a life-changing year for me. I traveled for months, exploring parts of the world that I’ve only dreamt about. I’m currently teaching English in a village of a developing country and I traveled rough, mountainous roads of Tajikistan to get here. And I left a secure job and career I expected to pursue the rest of my life, in order to embark on the world of academia.
It surprised some that I was so willing to leave a comfortable, 9-5 advertising job with interesting perks, but I truly felt my life had no deeper meaning. I would go to work everyday, content that I had a job, reliable cash flow, daily happy hours and great friends, but I also felt empty at the fact that I wasn’t enacting meaningful change.
I was 25 and experiencing my first life-crisis. I didn’t just want to pay my bills; I wanted to do something more noble and fulfilling with my time. So I quit my job and left everything in Texas behind to make some changes.
My first action item (after a series of mini and massive panic attacks): travel my heart out.
I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and had conversations under the Eiffel Tower. I ate éclairs and delicacies from Laduree while sitting by the Seine. I chomped on an entire loaf of bread, on my own, while roaming the hallways of the Louvre. I walked hand-in-hand with my sister down the streets of London and I traveled through Platform 9 ¾ (King’s Cross, not Universal Studios). I tried Moussaka, a delightfully, carb-loaded dish, and lost track of how many gyro wraps I consumed. I got lost in Mykonos, partially because of the strong winds, and I hiked up and down the beautiful hills of Santorini. I reflected with the salt waters off Thirassia Island and laid on a cliff in Oia with an Elif Shafak novel in hand. I blew shisha and sipped chai on a rooftop in Istanbul, a rooftop that overlooked the Suleymaniye Mosque. I marveled at the beauty and history of the Hagia Sophia, which has fascinating remnants of two different, yet similar, religions. I laughed with the ice cream man on Istiklal Street, who simply refused to hand over an ice cream cone to my sister. And I woke up to the call to prayer in a city peppered with mosques on every street. Gosh, I felt like I saw everything only to realize just how much more there was to see.
I’ll admit, however, that it wasn’t all exciting. As beautiful as some of this journey has been, parts have been absolutely terrifying.
What was I going to do next? Maybe I should freelance because I do need an income. Did I jump too soon? Should I have bided my time just a bit till I figured everything out?
I lost my balance here and there, but I learned that sometimes losing balance is part of being balanced. Don’t be fooled… I also did a whole lot of nothing, but faced and forgave realities about myself. I saw everything that I came across as a clue to my puzzle and I reflected, sometimes over-reflected to a flaw, on the meaning and purpose of my life.
Unknowingly, I checked off my second action item: I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I want to see, I want to learn, I want to share, I want to teach.
Since this piece of my puzzle fell into place, other pieces have been aligning as well. I studied for (and passed!) an excessive series of exams that educators in the states of California and Texas (come on, y’all know I love Texas) need for their license. I mentored, tutored, job-hunted (and Masters program-hunted), in search of interesting opportunities. And now I’m teaching in the beautiful Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan.
I’m finally on my journey to make a difference and find my purpose in this world. Praying that I’ll succeed. Till then, grateful for 2015.