September 2015, Sihanoukville, Cambodia – I saw an innocent 6 year old girl being traded as a sex object. Few days before that, I heard the heartbreaking story of a survivor from the deadly Khmer Rouge era. Around the same time the whole world shook their heads in shame at the sight of the unfortunate refugee kid’s body washed up ashore on a Turkish beach. Sights and stories like these have the potential to have life changing effects especially on folks who have had a more personal or up-close experience with these slices of reality.
Today, I am writing this article, 4 days after I bid farewell to my comfortable and high-paying corporate job. I do not have any obligation nor do I have any intention to “inspire” others to take such a decision. However, I have been asked by many many people – friends and family – as to why I am doing this, what is the need to make this drastic change and take a huge risk especially when I was mostly settled in my life.
Well, the reason is very simple – I WAS NOT HAPPY. I was not happy since the day I realized that outside the cocoon and the safety bubble of my financially secure life, there exists a world which might be harsh but more real. I was not happy that over the last eight years, I have communicated with a desktop/laptop more than I have with real people. I was not happy that I used to get upset if the train/bus and even the office lift got delayed by a few seconds. I was not happy that I found my passion for travel not until 2015 because I was too busy living a luxurious life till then. Gadgets and more gadgets had surrounded me to such an extent that I felt I myself was turning into a machine.
I grew up being taught that I should either get a degree in Tech/Engineering or Medicine as anything other than those was considered abysmal. I still remember how the elders in the society would look down upon somebody’s kid who was not able to get a good rank (in-spite of passing the exams) or to that kid who said he/she liked arts more than science. There isn’t anybody to blame for that too as the society itself believed in what they saw or in most cases what they chose to see. It is only when we decide to go out of our comfort zone, that we find out there is more to life than the cycle of “DEGREE-JOB-MBA-JOB WITH HIGHER PAY“. And that is what happened to me.
On the surface, I have not led an ordinary life. I was at my job for eight years, I was good at it and I was getting due recognition within the organization. Hell yeah I loved my job because I was good at it. It was when I scratched the surface, I realized that I was indeed living a flawed life. When confronted with the cruel sights and experiences of how the other part of civilization lives, my perception about right and wrong changed. My definition of success is no more about climbing up the corporate organizational ladder. Success , now for me is try and take the hard but fulfilling path to pursue something I truly believe in.
I have been getting that urge to quit my job and volunteer in community service programs while I travel places, but I kept on putting it off possibly due to the thought of my life turning upside down badly. With time, as this feeling got stronger I felt I might fail miserably or I might be exceedingly successful but running away from this call to take THE step is NOT an option anymore. Someday when I am old, I do not want to have a regret of not trying to make it happen just because I was scared to get out of my shell. So, I am not running away anymore!!