Paying it forward is somewhat of a trendy thing to do these days, and I’m not complaining.
It beats a Kardashian butt breaking the internet and selfies, and any behaviour that connects us to a collective mindset to be kind can’t be bad. But, it’s not why I started living my life by the rule of simply giving, and getting nothing in return.
7 years ago I joined a far too large community of people who suffer from depression. I ticked all the typical characteristics: life of the party, big drinker, buried deep in a long-dying relationship, replaced real emotion and connection with self-deprecating humour. I had an enviable amount of friends and a close-knit family, but was entirely alone. Then, my world cracked open.
I took the very uncharacteristic step of moving to Cambodia to live with my sister, indefinitely.
I landed in Phnom Penh feeling disconnected from life and from myself, but I knew I was there with the purpose of doing the very Gen Y move of ‘finding myself’. A number of small things happened while I was there, I met incredible people and witnessed poverty I’d only ever heard of in theory, or as how the ‘other’ lived.
Then, I saw two little boys asleep on the side of the road and something clicked. I bought them toys and a hot meal for them to wake up to. I won’t lie, I felt like I was their little saviour. While I would never get direct kudos for my good deed, the pay off was knowing I’d done something so kind, and posted it on social media, for good measure. But, as I started to make the gesture a habit, for the next year heading out late at night on my scooter leaving meals by Cambodians on the street, I became less interested in telling anyone. It was about them, not me.
When this part of ‘paying it forward’ clicks inside of you, change starts to happen. Of course, I could say that telling people is a mechanism to inspire others to do the same—it’s why I’m writing this now—but I’ve come to realise that living your life with kindness first and foremost is a process, and it’s okay to go through the ego first.
I moved back to Australia and struggled to adjust to the change in surroundings. My friends had moved along life with expected milestones: travel, careers, relationships, engagements, marriage, children. I was trying to reconcile how I could continue on my path of finding when, besides travel, I didn’t want for any of these things. I could no longer be the saviour, I wasn’t the advantaged in this place. I was the exception.
Then, I met Alex—on Tinder, no less—and I found someone who was equally determined to carve a path of trying, however impossible or over used the term may be, to change the world—one kind gesture at a time. Alex, too had spent time on her own soul searching journey which resulted in her quitting her job, taking out a personal loan and following her bliss to create her own company Bliss to Bizz; she may have just been the best right swipe of my life, but for completely different reasons!
If we’ve learned anything it’s that change is something that you can create without having to hit rock bottom, and the best way to create that change?… For us it’s been to pay it forward.
Author: Alex Tripod & Tegan Kiddle
Editor: Erin Lawson