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.
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)