A new journey, and the decisions we make

Before I begin, a disclosure for you. I have written and re-written variations of this blog post countless times over the past two months. Those accounts have detailed, among other things, a period of change, one that I’m both terrified of and exhilarated to have the means to experience. The words you see below are a piece-meal of these different entries (chronicled in so many unsaved Word documents and cliffhanger paragraphs) as well as an explanation of how I’ve now come to find myself on the opposite side of the world.

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Fall is a time of transition. September 1 has always been a time of unequivocal change – my ‘happy new year moment’ or the start of a new fiscal company calendar. The season always came as a welcome reprieve to me, blowing out the humidity and swooping me off somewhere new. What I realized this year, though, was that those changes have always been fairly inconsequential and predictable – for 17 years it meant the start of a new school year, and last year the extension of my job as a journalist with Canada’s national broadcaster.

This past summer, I started feeling restless. I’d allowed myself to be consumed by work. I was thinking about it 24/7, not sleeping, and suffering breakdowns every few weeks. There were other reasons, too, but for the sake of brevity and professionalism, the Internet shall hear none of it. At the same time, I was on a career path – getting amazing experience, covering a variety of stories, and making connections with people in the community. This was the structured “right” path I had always expected my feet to follow. That path is one of certainty – continued praise of my journalistic prowess from co-workers, fawning in my parents’ social circles, and maybe, one day, even a coveted full-time gig in this shrinking media world.

Then the cocktail of uncertainty mixed with gutsy naivety hit. This “right” path wasn’t looking so desirable anymore. I didn’t want to keep zipping full speed ahead on this fast track to career, this permanence. I wanted to make mistakes and see the world and pursue personal projects. If life was a video game, my health points were sitting at 10 out of 10. I decided to be selfish, while I could still afford to be.

So I gave my boss my resignation letter and stopped working at the end of August.

…At which time, I learned one lesson very quickly: big decisions do not automatically lead to big change. I thought that by quitting my job, all the problems I had would dissolve alongside. But it turns out being fun-employed for the first time ever just gives way to a whole bunch of other insecurities (if you allow it, which for a while, I definitely did).

Okay, so it’s September. With an unprecedented period of time of think, I come to the realization that my perception of self-worth and my job are so closely intertwined. I had an interesting conversation with a friend and role model of mine a few weeks ago. We were talking about new encounters you have with people, and how one of the first questions asked is usually ‘so, what do you do?’ Up until this point, I’ve always been able to say that I’ve been a journalism student or I’m a reporter with CBC or I work with Enter Traditional Job X Here. These titles, I realize now, have always served as interesting and impressive-enough sounding crutches on which I can somewhat appease social expectations.

Now, I no longer have that crutch, that position that gives me tangible value in a society that is so job-centric. So I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in as just Hilary. What are my passions, my opinions, my skills, when I’m actually given the time to try and figure them out?

I’ve been struck with panic and the question: have I forgotten how to make change in my life?

Luckily humans are adaptable. I am young (23) and equal parts naive and hopeful and stupid enough to think and know and worry obsessively that I can get out of this funk. I’m also grateful to live in a socio-economic situation where I can even afford this uncertainty.

The past two months have witnessed depression, anxiety, newfound romance and freedom. Somewhere in the middle of those feelings, I decided it was the right time to go travelling. I have money saved, time, and few commitments. It’s the trifecta of good timing. I don’t deny that escapism is also coming into play – a desire to run away from all the emotions and pressures of home. But its also driven by a desire to learn more about the world we live in, and see what life is like through the eyes of people who don’t always have the time and luxury of worrying.

So that, my friends, is the long-winded version of how I now find myself in Nepal.

More to come, certainly.

(Also, more photos in the next posts…I just needed to get these words out there, first)

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13 comments
  1. Lucky you! I’ve always wanted to go to Nepal. I look forward to reading all about it. Travelling is almost always a “good” decision, which leads to many other revelations. In other words, a great option if you have it.

  2. Untethering is liberating. You’ll never regret it. If you make it to Kathmandu, you should drop in on the Nepal Youth Foundation Offices. It’s a charity I support with my baking. Tell them Jennifer and Jim sent you. Then come visit me in France! Good luck with your journey. I hope you find what you’re seeking.

  3. Mel C said:

    Fantastic blog post. Now is the time to travel. Enjoy your freedom. You are a talented person, the jobs – in whichever field you choose – will always be there when it’s time to come back. All the best.

  4. JDKnitter said:

    what a lovely post and feels so relevant to me. I’m a lawyer (out of law school 4 years ago), but am now trying to move on to a business opportunity in a passion I found during law school. Every morning I get that insecure feeling about not using my law degree to the fullest potential, but I have a bigger desire to be happy with my job… Thanks for the great post!

  5. Maganga said:

    Lovely I like it!!!!!

  6. Hilary, I was going to write to you about this. I overheard at the office that you had decided to travel to Nepal! This is awesome in the truest sense of the word. Good for you! Enjoy your experience! Having never really traveled outside of Canada I can’t think of much pertinent advice so I’ll keep it brief : Stay your bold curious self. This kind of trip, I think, is probably one of the most enriching experiences you could have pursued given who you are and how you think.

    Michel

  7. Oh darling, I can relate to this. I recently re-evaluated my life as you have done and have headed off to Turkey where I’m just taking it day by day. Enjoy the time to think things through and not make any quick decisions. You’re an amazing young professional and you’ll be back to take on the world!

  8. Tomek Sysak said:

    Don’t worry, it’s not escapism. You’re not running away. You’re out there looking for something worth bringing back.

  9. Wow! That is amazing! I think it is very brave of you to realize you need a change and to go for it! I always found myself in contract jobs, never knowing if I was going to be able to stay or have to start looking again, I finally feel somewhat grounded and I just turned 30 :-O Good for you for going after your dreams, and all the best of luck to you!

  10. Lenny said:

    All I got to say that it was great to see you briefly in TO in the Summer. :) One of my best moments for 2013.
    Good luck on your endeavour.

  11. Hey Hilary, Nepal is the place to find yourself, it sure it where I found what was important to me and what I needed and wanted to be/left some of my issues… you will love it! take your time and enjoy the crazy/calm you will experience there… pokarah was my favourite if you go try buzzy bee :)

  12. Jan said:

    What a fantastic opportunity Hilary! You made a great choice and who knows what other neat and interesting career interests you may discover on your travels- travel writer? Tour Guide? Hope you make it back to Ottawa one day!

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