“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” they say. Others work to make ends meet and spend their free time doing things they love. There are endless possibilities and many choices when it comes to crafting your profession, but the question remains: How will you design your life?
I’ve been asking myself this question again and again the past few months. While it’s true that this is a lifelong question, it is particularly relevant for those of us in our mid 20s.
If you’re new to this blog, I’ll take a moment to explain my story up to this point… I’m Jamie, a world traveler and big question asker. I am 25 years old at the time of this writing, and I’ve been blessed to have experienced some pretty amazing things for someone my age. I’ve run with the bulls in Spain, solo traveled to many countries around the world, worked in interesting places like Congress in D.C. and beachside hostels in Puerto Rico, lived in Europe for 3 years, and have generally always been curious and hungry to learn more about myself and this big world we live in. After a year of traveling abroad and working remotely, I decided it’s time to settle down and find a place to call home for a while. This led me to asking myself, “If I could do anything or live anywhere, what would I do and where would I go?”
Initially I chose Denver, Colorado and started applying for jobs. After living out of a backpack for such a long time, it was so nice to have a place to call home. I had a few interviews here and there, all of which were lengthy processes. During the interviews, I noticed the interviewees looked down on my extensive traveling. It simply did not fit their notion of employability. Of course, this discouraged me and made me feel a bit unwanted and unworthy, an outsider even. I continued applying with a wider spectrum of companies. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to work for these companies, but I felt a strong sense of should. I should get a “good” job. I should settle down. I should sacrifice my time and energy and eventually it would pay off…right?
Two months passed in Denver, and I felt more confused than when I arrived. What was this all for? What am I meant to do? Could I truly work at a company that didn’t align with my values? Can someone just please tell me what’s right for me?!
All our lives we are told what to do from grade school to the college path to the bigger picture societal pressures of working up the corporate ladder in order to afford nice things. Not to mention, we probably only want these nice things because a talented marketing team has carefully crafted messages to make us believe we need these things to be happy.
Rant aside; I was seriously confused about what to do next. One morning I got in my car and drove to my old home, the meditation retreat center in the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes when you’re stuck, the only thing to do is look inward. So there I was, meditating in a cozy little room in the Rocky Mountains as I watched the snow softly fall outside. I sat and did nothing. I sat and watched my mind search for a solution. Slowly, my mind settled and the shoulds melted away.
When you sit like this, deeper Truths surface. Like the sun emerging as the clouds part on a stormy day, clarity shines through.
Ah, yes! That’s it! I realized.
I felt the answer rise from within. I was meant to live in a contemplative environment like that of Shambhala Mountain Center and facilitate retreats to help others discover their true nature and authenticity. This kind of environment is also the ideal place for self-discovery, something I highly value.
As I drove back to Denver from the mountains, I was sure this was the path I would take. I looked up the top retreat centers in the United States and abroad and sent out a few applications at the places that seemed right for me.
Within two weeks, I received an offer to work on the Guest Services team at the esteemed Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. I packed my bags and moved my life once again, but this time with more direction than the last.
The path isn’t a straightforward one. We are meant to get confused, lost, and even feel sad and uncomfortable at times. These are the times when we can truly gain an experiential understanding of self-compassion and trust in the journey. Like my teacher Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “The path is the goal!”
So, my friends, if you’re in a similar situation, take a breath and enjoy the journey. It’s what we’re here for!