When I started writing and teaching yoga, I believed that my administrative job didn’t fall in line with my newly found lifestyle.
How would I ever have enough courage and freedom to travel the world, teach, and write underneath bodhi trees and temple ruins? I was barely getting a week of vacation, and my bucket list destinations violently exceeded my financial give-and-take.
So, without a second thought, I quit my job—because why not totally burn a bridge to my sole source of income? I also severed ties with managers and colleagues, who were none the worse for decent company.
Now that I was now free as a bird to fly the world over, I took a step outside and was instantaneously hit with the reality: I have no idea what I want to do, and I certainly have no means of getting there.
Before long, I was broke, stuck, and depressed. What I failed to realize, upon reading article after article, was that every author who decided to cut ties with their typical nine-to-five job had an inspiring dream that was solid and workable in the background. It was their Holy Grail that they chipped at day after day.
The only thing I had after I quit my job was a blurry memory that tasted something like their inspiration. What I didn’t have, however, was enough money or time to plan a dream that I actually cared about.
I had never asked the questions: What is my own dream? What is my heart’s deepest desire?
When we know the answers to these—when we can see our dream play out in our mind’s eye like a movie—we can begin to move forward. We can chase after it, be overcome by it, and pave our journey in accordance with it.
To those people, I say, Godspeed.
But for the rest of us who are in the dark, we need to keep digging.
There is a fine, often blurred line between being inspired by someone else’s dream and following one of our own to fruition. On top of this, there is the added challenge of building the blocks to our dream, which is a delicate process that demands time, patience, and trust.
My story is common. It’s even more common for us millennials who seek constant thrill and adventure. But honestly—who doesn’t? All of us, at one point or another, have read articles that inspired us to want to quit everything and pack up a suitcase and hope our passports were current. I love that inspiration—I love the goosebumps I get when I read stories of people who’ve done that, who’ve stepped out into that unknown and explored it with all of their shaky might.
But those decisions unleashed their dreams, not mine.
I realized that what inspires us doesn’t have to be our big plan. Someone’s take-off writing career doesn’t have to force us to leave ours. We don’t have to uproot our own lives to live “the dream” in a faraway country, just because it satisfies our lust for adventure.
Leaving the life that we’ve created now is only beautiful when we do so to go toward something bigger, not when we simply leave to escape from something that makes us smaller.
The hardest part is building our dream. But it’s also incredibly simple when we stop making it so rigid. Dreams are fluid, limitless even. In order to have one, we need only abandon our control and manipulation of our lives. What lights us up? What gives us goosebumps when we do it? What would we continue to do if we never got paid a single dime for it?
Upon understanding this, we must also consider reality. Ideally, when we allow our dream to uplift our spirit and soul, but also let it tether us to the ground so that we never lose our footing, we begin to honor the balance that is needed for a full life. It is on that middle ground we stand that we finally proclaim our own ridiculous happiness.
I learned the hard way that our dreams can never be tarnished by what we do for survival. Having a job and earning money, especially when done in ways that are far from what we’d like to be doing, are still vital. We sure as hell are not defined by our job, but it does allow us to keep our dream reachable. And honestly? Let’s be real. Money is money. We need it, we’re worthy of making it, and it’s okay to want it. Dreams are beautiful, but they also cost. Don’t let the rosy-colored daydream of manifesting this beauty cloud the basics.
A job is, after all, just a job. We go to work. We put in the hours, even if it sometimes feels like a slow death. But then we go home and we’re, once again, with our dream. We give it attention and time and effort. We do it because we absolutely couldn’t wait for the workday to be over with to pursue it. I’m a strong believer that, eventually, through this dedication, our dream will grow stronger, and our vision will come into alignment with our lives.
Eventually, space begins to open up in our lives where we can finally take that step that others inspired in us so long ago—but this time, it’s our step.
It will feel right, not scary. It won’t feel like a risk. On the contrary, it will feel more right than anything ever has.
Author: Aleksandra Slijepcevic
Editor: Callie Rushton