Where do we find the threshold between living and merely existing? I’d like to think it’s somewhere near the intersection of Follow Your Dreams Boulevard and the Road to Happiness. Sometimes we get caught up in the ideals and desires of those outside of ourselves (parents, friends, lovers, etc.) and get lost on our way to what we truly want. Dare to dream big, dare to step outside of your comfort zone and follow your bliss. You deserve to live your best life. This is my story of how I knew it was time for me start living my dream life.
“Stop existing and start living.” It was the idea that I had been ruminating on for weeks. I had just finished my first year working in the insurance industry; moving quickly up through the ranks, diligently making a name for myself, starting to get my professional accreditations. I thought this was what adulting was supposed to look like. This was why I worked so hard to get a college degree after all, right? To get a prestigious job, so I could start building a life for myself. This was what we were taught in school, the American dream, what my parents wanted for me.
I had already given up my seven-year career in banking, seeking greater stability so that I could pursue my passions of helping others in my off hours. I figured this new job would be part of my ten or even twenty year plan. It would allow me the time and financial flexibility to build my client base so that, eventually, I could comfortably transition to be on my own.
So why I was feeling so unhappy, so unfulfilled?
My supervisors thought highly of me and my performance reviews reflected that, but sheepishly I knew that I could be successful at whatever they asked me to do, as long as I followed what they told me. I knew that I was doing well because I was listening to what they told me to do, how they told me to do it and when they told me to. I was the perfect little corporate puppet.
An opportunity presented itself in my down time to help staff a conference with some friends. They thought I might enjoy some of the speakers who were presenting. While I hadn’t really heard of any of them, I figured since it was one of those motivational, inspirational events, it certainly wouldn’t hurt spending time in a positive environment.
That weekend left me with more questions than answers including the biggest one, “what was I doing with my life?”
I had been praying for weeks since the conference. Praying to God to give me answers. To show me what I was supposed to be doing with my time, with my life, rather than working a job where I was merely existing under the pre-fabricated structure of corporate rules. I knew that I was not supposed to stay working in insurance for that much longer, but I didn’t know what the transition would be. I kept asking God for signs about timing, yet I was stubborn and ignored them until they became physically painful.
“Stop existing and start living.”
The phrase had been swirling around me for weeks, asking me to look at the life I was creating for myself. Driving to work one morning, I had the radio turned down and I was talking aloud. I was asking God to give me guidance again, asking for a sign. Nearly to work, I started to feel my right hand freeze up. I felt a searing sensation down to the bone, numbness and tingling radiating out through my arm, enveloping my right side in burning pain. Tears running down my face, anxiety fogging up my glasses, I could barely see clearly enough to get to work.
Crying in pain in the car I asked God how I was supposed to work in this condition. Mustering up the strength to go inside the office, I sat at my desk, with my hand on the computer mouse trying to start my computer. My hand was literally paralyzed and I was physically unable to work — this was God’s way of telling me that I was done. I started trying to do my job with one hand, whimpering in pain until my boss came up to me and asked if I was okay. Tears streaming down my face from pain and frustration, she asked to speak with me privately.
Walking over to the conference room, my work badge fell off my hip and instinctively I knew that this was the absolute last sign I needed and that I was to give notice that day. Typing up my notice was like cutting all of the strings that had held me attached to who I was, and allowing me to be who I truly wanted to be.
I was finally free.
I gave my two weeks and tied up all my loose ends into one neat and tidy package. I packed up a few trinkets from my desk, but gave away most of the decorative items, knowing that I would not be returning to a typical office. I was being called to do something much greater than work 40 hours from a cubicle each week, I was being called to serve people. My two weeks flew by, and I’ve never looked back. I still talk to some of my friends, listening to the office banter with faint interest, eternally grateful that I found the courage to step out of my comfort zone and into my dream life.