I have seen so many films and read so many books that talk about journeys of self discovery. The most obvious to most of us is of course the whole Eat Pray Love shebang. These are all very inspiring. The idea of gaining a great insight into ourselves from a lofty mountain or while chowing down on a plate of unimaginably scrumptious pasta is super appealing.
Unfortunately, the past few years, no matter how much I have wanted to embark on such a quest of my own, I’ve never quite managed it. Why? Well there’s a lot of reasons. Some of them are pretty unavoidable. I’ve had a rough time of it with some issues my family have been working through, and my studies have definitely been an obstacle. Not to mention money. Oh, money.
Probably the biggest reason has been that it has just seemed way too hard to pack up and go. And that is something I will have to work through on my own. But in the meantime…
I’m not entirely convinced that you do have to be on a mountain to actually “be on a mountain”. I think it is entirely possible to realise a few home truths about yourself and change the course and nature of your life without leaving your home city. I know that is something I have done myself.
Let me take you back to last year. 2012. Not an easy year for me at all. I was going to law school after having graduated with a bachelor of arts. And things weren’t going well. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the issues I had dealing with in my personal life had slowly eroded my positivity and my motivation and I had become a very difficult person to be around. I mean, even I didn’t like hanging out with me, I can’t imagine how everyone else must have felt!
I knew that something had to give. Something had to change. I couldn’t just keep living my life in a negative space and mostly on autopilot. I couldn’t just run from my problems. And at that stage of my life there was no way I was about to get a book deal and head to Rome. So how what did I do? Well I didn’t just kickstart my life overnight. That is just not how these things work. I wish.
No, it took about 11 months for me to get to a place that I was happy with. The first thing I did was look for the most immediate and obvious thing that was stressing me and using my good old 10 seconds of courage rule, I just got out of it. It was actually a job that had become a very unhealthy workplace for everyone employed there, and I found it quite soul destroying. Leaving that job wasn’t easy, financially speaking. But in the end I realised that it was either leave or just keep going down a really negative road.
The second thing I did was the proactive one. I looked for the most immediate and obvious thing I could do that would instigate positive change in my life. I left law school and started studying media and film at UTS. Such a good decision.
The effect that those two choices had on my life is remarkable. One plus one minus. After thinking about that for a while, I adopted it as a rule of thumb. If you need to change your life, operate on a principle that requires you to minus one thing, remove something from your life, and then plus one thing, add something of value.
If you need to quit that job you hate, like I did, you need to add something new to your life as well. Taking on a new course, a volunteer role, golly-gosh-darn it even going to a therapist or picking up yoga.
Same if you need to cut someone toxic out of your life.
Same if you need to change your diet.
For every negative add a positive.
It just helps keep your life balanced and even, and trust me, it will keep you sane.
Even the most insanely talented artist cannot realise their dreams without a touch of sanity. Somewhere.