A brief pause: My voluntary exit from societal norms

I never imagined this would be my path. I never thought I would look back and say, how did this happen. I was ambitious in my field, good hearted, and so sure of my direction. I lived in the city that never slept, while having endless exposure to the most creative and interesting muses. I truly was living a new age version of my childhood dream. Yet, 15 days ago I took all of that “success”, held it in my hand, and crushed it with such intensity that nothing was left. To quickly summarize, in those 15 days since my very own “D day” I have quit my wonderfully paying job, left NYC for a temporary hiatus, lost vision of what my career and materialistic life should be, as well as, having gone through at least three mental breakdowns. Again, today is just day 15 but I’m almost certain day 30 will be more entertaining. All jokes aside, this is a trying time both mentally and spiritually. The breath of uncertainty is constantly whispering upon my neck, telling me I have failed, and that I went about this all wrong. Of course there is no rule book to forgetting the societal norms you create for yourself, but this is no comfort to me, as I still feel forlorn.

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Before diving into my blues and woes I should provide a bit of context and address why I took such a leap into the deep end. Firstly, the innate demand for change. Even in a vibrant city with forthright inspirations, I felt stagnant. How was it that five years ago I moved to find true happiness and now I felt too depressed to leave my bed? Initially it did not resonate, but I soon realized the answer was; a lack of passion. Passion drove me to this incredible place, but working in an industry that I abhorred tore my soul apart. I was spending day after day loving only parts of my career and staying in the routine for my team’s sake as opposed to my own. An ultimate sacrifice is abandoning your own contentment to alleviate another’s anguish. This was the cyclical nature my life had become and I was entirely defeated by it.

Secondly, the yearning for a challenge. My first year in New York I was attempting “independence” and plunged into the nightlife whirlwind on my own. While sitting stag at a bar, a man promptly turned towards me, inviting me into a brisk but memorable conversation. Though full of insightful bits, this man said one thing that happily haunted my soul ever since.

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“Quit your job just once in your life. Once. Take everything you have and let go of it, without any other plan or backup. It is in this type of sacrifice that you will realize how resilient you really are.”

Though I gently nodded in fear and curiosity, I always thought, challenge accepted. For most of my life I was a calculated rebel, harmonizing spurts of misfit tendencies in perfect osmosis with a wise mind. I had my phases of anger, grief, journey, and impulse but I never truly let go of stability. That stability being a well made career. After all, money made the world go round and as my father told me, if you’re not making six figures out of college, you’re no one. So why was I so intrigued by this challenge that went against the most prized contribution society asks of us? Well, I just stated it. I knew that at some moment in time, I would not believe in a premeditated take on my life. At some moment, I would not want to line up in a computed sequence of events in order to live someone else’s truth. Yet, I was honest enough to know that the moment I brooded over was not ready for me. Or I not ready for it.

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Lastly, the desire to pursue my calling. We live in the ultimate microwave society, attaining the unattainable with virtually no wait time. However, true divination or purpose takes patience and perseverance to manifest. I am an avid believer that what you do in this life can define your existence. That existence should be full of fervor, ambition and desire that encompasses what you love most. So with this design in mind, I set off into the abyss.

Now, as for those blues and woes, I would love to say that I am the happiest I’ve ever been. That this is the most inspirational and invigorating departure from normalcy I’ve ever embarked on. However, I can say none of that. I’ve had more silence than I can bear while negative and self-deprecating thoughts infest my mind. Each day continues to be a struggle towards something bigger but I haven’t the slightest idea as to what. Yet how is it that this battle of emotions fulfills me in an indescribable manner?

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It is the notion that traditions are not set in stone, and the structure our parents followed is a flawed system. It is the culmination of ideas that create my own rules, the discovery of my own self, and the reflection on next steps, without compromising psyche. It is the principle that, though you can follow the commonplace rhetoric, you have the ability to choose otherwise. I am surely still figuring out this gargantuan mystery, but what I can define with such validity is; that I walked away from all that was familiar and safe, for the sake of conquering fear and this enigma. As Rita Mae Brown said best “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” Ergo, for those who reject this idea of bowing down for others, or any of the dreamers debating to follow suit, my best advice would be to chase change, forever be challenged, and go identify your calling.

Written by Brittni Alahmar

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