When I left the company I started end of last year, I knew I was following a path that felt like my path. Even though I was not sure where it would lead, I was ready to find out.
I was scared of a blank page, but I knew all that I need to feel enough, happy, and successful was in me.
As I withdrew from coffee industry and shattered my identity, I retreated back home.
When I was home, I set myself up for a new project — decluttering the room I grew up in since 10.
I decided to keep only essential items I need.
As I watched my brother opened up the boxes and picked out items that could be recycled or given to people, a strange feeling came to me.
Seeing those items, I felt a weird concoction of nostalgia and letting go, a tension between push and pull.
This was perfect reflection of life.
In the end, I salvaged only one item out of the big pile — a gift from my mum for my 11th birthday. It was a simple framed art work that didn’t have any utility, but I felt an urge to cry when I noticed it in the to-go pile.
Despite of minimalism, love gives weight to things in life.
The rock bottom diary
At 26, I went back home, back to having nothing in life.
Without a company at my back, a job title, a career, family, friends, belongings and name, I got to learn about myself by detaching life from everything else.
When I am just me, what do I stand for? Who am I?
I guess there is no way of knowing except for believing in who I am, and living the story I am in.
I realised how much I had when I had nothing.
People who mattered and love me didn’t see me differently even though I made big shift in life and changed my identity.
At home, I filled my days with house chores, running, reading, and learning anything I was interested in.
I felt serene and contented with life in every moment, focusing in things right in front of me without knowing what was my next chapter.
It was a way of life that I would miss months after that.
Seeing my parents who worked 9 to 5, I felt guilty.
Who was I to say I want to do things that make me fulfilled and happy? Who was I to say I don’t like repetitive task? Who was I to say people in corporate world didn’t have a purpose?
I felt ashamed of my ego and pride.
Freedom is a gift and privilege; my parents gave that to me.
I couldn’t ask for more in life, to have my mum and dad believing in me, supporting me, and loving me all these times.
I wish I understood earlier, so that I could avoid hurting them and thinking less of them; but this wasn’t how life works.
Life, is about contrast. It’s about knowing who you’re not to know who you are, knowing what you don’t want to know what you want, knowing what love isn’t to know what love is.
I accepted all emotion and thoughts coming through me as they were, letting myself sink and expand. There were times I felt love and joy, there were moments I felt small and doubtful.
When there was not much distraction in life, I saw all forms of myself clearly — the joyful, the sorrow, the prideful, the doubtful, the hopeful, the fearful…
‘This too shall pass, I’m going to be okay,’ I told myself again and again.
Emptiness and nothingness
I would never discover so much of myself without hitting the rock bottom.
It let me see that I was okay even when things didn’t work out the way I wanted. I was okay even when I chose to go back to having nothing in life.
The more important questions are, what matter to you? What do you want to create? How do you want to serve others?
We can start whenever, wherever, as long as we have a clear inner compass.
When there was no deadline, no project, nothing expected of me, I stayed in natural state of life driven by curiosity, I listened to myself clearly.
As I went back to life later, I would lose myself again, go through more struggles, and move closer towards who I am.
That’s the fun of life — to explore, to get lost, to find ourselves, to try again and again.
Rock bottom gave me contrast in life.
It was a bench mark to which I knew I had calmness and emptiness in me, I knew life could be full of love if we choose so.
Wherever we are right now, it is the sum of choices we made in life.
At rock bottom, nothing could be worse, the only way forward is upward.
‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ — T. S. Eliot
That was what going back meant to me.
Originally posted on Isabelle’s Blog.