Guest Essay: Why I Quit My Job For India

Be honest: at some point, we’ve all dreamt about quitting our day jobs and up and moving abroad. Unfortunately, for the majority of wanderlusters, this scenario is just that – a daydream. Our rational brain tells us that although tempting, these thoughts are self-indulgent and unrealistic. But it CAN be done. Seeking out adventure with the goal of making a positive impact is something that we at BYOM adamantly support because we know that new experiences, and the vulnerability that is inherently a part of them, are the driving forces behind real personal growth. By exposing yourself to new experiences, positive intentions in hand, you’re consciously (or sometimes even unconsciously) broadening your perspective. This can only lead to good things: more compassion, understanding, and engagement in a world that is so much more than the three walls of your office cubicle.

One of our dear friends and former Muses, the spirited Shoshanna Delventhal, recently made this leap and left her “respectable” corporate job in NYC to pursue yoga certification and the betterment of herself and of humanity in India. As she shared with us in a recent email, “More and more I am wondering how making a positive impact on the world isn’t the number one thing (or top 10 for that matter) we think of when choosing what steps we’re going to take career-wise.” Here is her account of the personal journey that incited this leap, which she originally shared on her thought-provoking personal blog, The Loopy Scoop.


 

An anticipated move to New York City followed an epic “Last Summer of Life,” 2015. It was time to graduate “fake life.” I started my job, quickly made new friends and started going to weekly, sometimes daily, happy hours. This was it, classic cases of newly hired Kool-Aid drinkers. Staring at a computer screen for the majority of the day wasn’t glamorous, but then there were three screens, how friggin’ cool. Did I mention free alcohol at the happy hours? My “perks at work” got me so excited that I spent a bunch of money in order to save 25% of all the goodies I wouldn’t have wanted in the first place. I was definitely locked in, both by my rent and the habits I conformed to as a corporate Millennial.

I’ve always felt like an oddball in school and work atmospheres, whether dubbed the crazy intern (behind my back) or kicked out of class for an uncontrollable laugh. As class clown in the yearbook, I was also an AP student and captain of the cheer team (dealing with this still). I get super excited and comfortable easier than most.

I also love the “who cares, just get shit done” dress code. I believe we’d all thrive in open and transparent work cultures. At a dated, 160K employee large company, I didn’t buy into the fabricated culture, which seemed stale and phony. I felt like you could have replicated the executive Christmas party speech at 499 other companies, maybe interchange some of the words and make a living speech-writing for traditional multinational firms.

“Busy season” came around amid my skepticism. Fifteen hour days were spent surrounded by high cubicle walls that thwarted communication. Doctors are eager to prescribe heavy doses of Adderall to “fix” natural sleep depravity. I overdid the weekends, which were limited to a Saturday night and a hangover Sunday – although I will not downplay the glorious New York bagel medicine.

I wasn’t necessarily in debt but I was definitely playing hot potato with my cash and cards. But this blog post isn’t about money, although I have had a few delayed revelations on how saving essentially safeguards your freedom. The most important thing about this whole season-long shindig was that my true self was silenced and pushed in a little “for later” to-do list that I threw in with my laundry (which is strictly a metaphor considering the embarrassing fact that my Mother insists on washing my clothes at age 22).

I explored other options, but had bad luck as I experienced a particularly discouraging sexual advancement by a senior partner and blatant discrimination against my Hebrew name during another interview. I felt like maybe this was just the best it would get. It’s insane how many others lead you to believe that if you take the wrong internships or don’t choose the right major, you’re stuck in career path, or moreover, a life trajectory.

With busy season over, I naturally rewarded my body by trashing it in Vegas, making myself physically ill. I visited my younger sister, Kayla, in Costa Rica and saw what pure joy looked like, which was both a breath of fresh air, and a “get it together” reminder.

And then something incredible happened.

I woke up one day with myself again – the only past fling where it’s a good idea to get serious again. A relatively fast progression towards the light took place after wandering around the Strand book store in Manhattan. I realized how much I missed the excitement of learning, and felt the sense of curiosity that is so fundamental to humanity. I first read Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From the Inside Out by David Gelles. This bridged the gap between my spiritual life strengthened by physical yoga practice, to my “professional” and academic self involved with business and economics. I had a lot to say and craved adding value more than ever in my life.

I sought an outlet and like many great [wo]men, creative-type Millennials, or attention seeking twenty-something-year-olds before me (whichever you prefer), I decided to start a blog. I’d stay up late until my eyelids physically shut themselves. I was so enthusiastic about learning that I felt addicted to new knowledge and FOMO when I watched a show. I spent hours writing, reading, watching Ted Talks, learning about new startups and social entrepreneurship. I’d push myself to go to bed only to wake up ten minutes later and write my stream of consciousness into my iPhone notes (the majority of this is written in that manner).

I realized there’s a large community of people out there who understand this beautiful Steve Jobs quote:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.

Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. 

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Innovative businesses such as WeWork, Airbnb, and countless other lesser known players are grounded in the fact that by leveraging community, you can not only get discounted rates, but also the invaluable experience of connection. At conception, the Internet allowed the average person to have a voice, now giving way to micro-entrepreneurship, facilitated by sharing economy platforms. We don’t have to hate our work, despite the firm contention of your cranky uncle Joe.

This movement has inspired the content of my writing and the nature of my writing itself. As I revered a new way of work, I knew that once I had sufficient funds, I needed to start practicing what I preach and quit my day job. Now, I create what I love and get compensated to do so. I find what I’m interested in through search or simple day-to-day life and write about it. Although I don’t necessarily foresee writing as my full time gig in the long-term, I appreciate its power as both a creative hobby and rewarding trade.

… Why do I have to go all the way to India to get yoga certified? According to my cost projections (which I handed out to my family before breaking the news) I’m saving a few thousand, flight included. But cost was no deal maker. There’s the draw to India as the birthplace of yoga and a world spiritual center. Then there’s my dream to meet the Dalai Lama, to follow the lead of the Beatles, Gandhi, the Buddha and other pretty cool people before me. The diversity of India ranges from the Taj Mahal, the beaches of Goa, the desert of Rajasthan, the Tibetan refuge in the Himalayas, etc.

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. I’m prepared to be unprepared for this trip. However, I’m not more afraid about India than I am walking the streets of New York. We need to stop equating poverty with violence and rid ourselves of the fear associated with it. Traveling seems self-indulgent in a way, and there’s absolutely a fine line. I’ll post photos, but I’m more excited for the opportunity to practice gratitude, enhance my world view and share with others.

It’s scary “quitting,” but it’s scarier looking back 5, 10, years and realizing you kept stalling until one year led to two. Each time around you were waiting for that promotion, or that holiday, or whatever it was. Ten years from now you realize you didn’t go for it, and you convince yourself you couldn’t have and you surely can’t now, but you can! You truly can be whatever you set your mind to – within limits. I would guess that perceived limits are at minimum 20x smaller than they are in reality.

If you’re reading this you’re one of the lucky ones, probably not struggling to make ends meet, or to find a bed tonight. Hold that dearly and do something with it, because that is a blessing. Not everyone has the power to create opportunities. In a sense, I feel like we’re throwing away a gift if we settle for complacency.

People tell me they are jealous and can’t believe what I’m doing, all who at this very moment can make a decision for change. Respect yourself to take pride in your work, to alleviate suffering in the world and allow yourself everyday happiness. Life is too short to drag on the day, wishing away time. Life’s precious moments are given and we never know when they will be taken. Respect yourself and the world enough to enjoy these moments and take responsibility in seizing them.

If you have it figured out, that’s incredible. If not, maybe your change isn’t so drastic, or looks nothing like mine. Travel isn’t for everyone. The answer’s knocking at your door (if you have one, hell yea).

As for me, I bet I have a better chance of changing the world, if I experience it first. Off I go (to yoga teacher training in Goa and beyond). Namaste.

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+ LET’S GET THE DISCUSSION STARTED! WE KNOW YOU’VE GOT THEM – SHARE YOUR “DAYDREAMS” IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Shoshamanan! Captain Compost loves you and your writing!

    Like

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