“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Traveling to places I’ve been to in the past always reminds me how much I’ve changed since the last time I was there.
I’m back where I’ve spent my holidays since I was a young girl.
In the past two years, I’ve been through a self-destructive process that has allowed me to release what didn’t sit with my heart and wasn’t aligned with my personal beliefs.
Everything started when I left a well-paying job in the business world.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.“ ~ Lao Tzu
For a long time, I had felt that I wasn’t in the right place. I was both betraying my own beliefs for the collective and pushing into the background my personal happiness.
The jobs that I had until then would only serve my ego and the belief that one needs to climb the social ladder and attain bigger professional titles to be “successful.” However, I would disagree with this orientation. I wasn’t interested in maximizing my income. I already believed that one doesn’t need more than enough to live, and that they can earn a living by doing what they like.
I knew that I wanted to help people or be of service of some sort, but I didn’t know how.
I felt drawn to search for a volunteer position in an “underdeveloped country” (I apologize for this terminology), and following a combination of factors I ended up in Cambodia.
I’ve now understood that sometimes, one needs to experience what they feel drawn to—precisely to find out why they felt such a deep calling for that experience.
My friends described what I was doing as “a pause from normal life,” but I already knew that significant changes were on my way.
That stay in Cambodia ended up to be life-altering. I was finally able to work for a worthy cause. However, I’ve grown a lot mostly because of the expats that I met there—who served as catalysts and as a confirmation of what I had imagined but never seen in a tangible way:
>> Another life that matches my needs actually existed, far from the molds of my educational background.
>> The accumulation of material riches wasn’t a top priority of everyone and I had the “right” to think that way too.
>> A few individuals had even managed to reach a state of freedom that allowed them to only do what they liked.
But, when I got back I started thinking again about whether I should look for a corporate job again. My entourage would refer to that solution as being the “right” way to go.
But, I had already changed too much. Applying for a position like I had before would have stopped my own journey at one of its most crucial points.
“A mind when stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” ~ Unknown
One needs to remain committed to the growth process that they’ve started. I was lucky because I still had a financial safety net which gave me strength to follow the guidance coming from within. I’ve decided to stay true to my heart—even if I didn’t know where that would lead and what would happen to me.
As I wanted to keep one foot in Cambodia and was interested in understanding our species more, I’ve started a PhD program in anthropology.
For the first time in my life, when writing, something would naturally emerge from the heart. I didn’t have to make any effort to devote time to my writing. On the other hand, I wasn’t passionate about reading academic books and analysing people from the perspective of an observer. I had chosen the academic path because to become a “doctor” would offer a status of importance and feed my ego. It wasn’t my true purpose.
Whenever I felt a strong or overwhelming emotion I’d write about my feelings and try to introspect in order to understand their roots. Through writing, I’ve been able to strengthen my own self-awareness. It has also brought me a lot of joy.
I’ve come to understood that it’s my heart’s true calling.
I’ve faced doubts (Am I good enough at writing?), and fears about the unknown (Where will money come from? What if I was wrong?). However, I’ve ended up deciding to embrace the writing path fully, which meant to quit the research program.
“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.” ~ Steve Maraboli
The journey of self-discovery is light and allows individuals to reach their highest potential. However, as for everything in life, the soul-path comes with a price.
Here are five lessons that I’ve learned so far:
1. Embracing the Soul Path.
Embracing the soul path is doing what we genuinely feel passionate about and trusting that life will naturally support us, even if it doesn’t seem practical.
The soul path starts by choosing to do what one feels drawn to and corresponds to what they perceive as their true nature—even if this requires one to step away from situations that they’ve settled in, or if it doesn’t seem practical.
Being a spiritual warrior therefore demands trust in one’s intuition—even when it requires us to take leaps into the unknown; even when there is no evidence that one is making the “right” decisions; even when the heart asks to leave a professional activity that seemed comfortable or that could lead to “success.”
I’ve seen that life always supports growth when we choose to do what we feel passionate about. We simply don’t know yet when or how that will happen.
2. The soul-path is often times a lonely road.
The journey of self-discovery is all about staying true to one’s truth and acting accordingly—even when their entourage doesn’t understand; even when family, friends, or love partners challenge them deeply and don’t believe their choices are the right ones or are even possible; even when being heart-led means breaking free from people’s expectations, hurting or disappointing their feelings; even when that leads to step away from relationships of any kind.
3. Self discovery is a life time adventure. There is no shortcut to actualization.
The soul path isn’t about doing something “crazy” and coming back home to what one had before as if nothing had happened or changed. It’s a lifetime process of moving forward and building on previous experiences.
It’s about trying different things and keeping what seems aligned to our purpose—or on the opposite end, discharging what feels wrong. The soul takes individuals to new experiences until its truly satisfied, which is why the Hero’s Journey is often times perceived from the outside as a destructive process.
Next steps can’t be anticipated much beforehand. Individuals committed to the soul path shall decide what to do next based on what they’ve learned up until then. Decisions for new steps are the results of the lessons accumulated along the way.
4. The Hero’s Journey requires commitment and work.
Yes, it starts by leaving what hurts or doesn’t serve one’s highest potential. But, more than any other thing, it’s being committed every day wholeheartedly to building that new life.
5. Embracing the soul path is accepting to see people and experiences as a means to explore oneself, rather than a final destination.
If one decides to embrace the path of self discovery, they may see that it becomes impossible to develop strong attachments to people, projects and activities. Such individuals use what’s proposed on the outside as a way to discover themselves.
They try things and ask themselves: Do I really like that? How does it truly feel when I’m working on this kind of thing?
They find love, loose love, develop friendships and experience people and wonder : Could a relationship with this man fulfill my desires? How this person is a reflection of wounds of mines that I’ve still not healed? What does this individual teach me about my own boundaries?
Above all, what am I learning about myself through this experience?
The journey of self discovery, is, in every way an incredible, life-altering, inspiring, light, rough and wonderful adventure—and I would recommend it to anyone that wishes to live a life that they like and feel aligned with!
Author: Sophie Gregoire
Editor: Travis May