The YOLO attitude has taken a hold of our generation in the last couple of years and needless to say, I’ve heard it a lot in my personal environment as well. News feeds on all social media platforms are full of visual statements with profound proverbs such as collect moments not things, let’s get lost and so on. But is there any meaning behind those words? I always wondered if the people writing such wise words are also living them.
As a junior project manager in marketing I worked hand-in-hand with a couple of big lifestyle brands. I was organizing a fancy event here, planning a social media campaign there, but every day after work, I asked myself the same question: “What have I done this whole day?” – and I never really came up with a satisfying answer. My work just felt pointless, like there was no real meaning behind all of it. It got to the point where I couldn’t bear it anymore, so I also tried to use my knowledge for a better purpose and worked as a volunteer project manager at several non-profit organizations. It turned out that this work wasn’t really fulfilling either, that what I was searching for must lie somewhere else – deeper within me.
I always had high expectations for myself, but in recent years I had begun to struggle more and more with them. I wanted my life to have meaning, a sustainable purpose, but also to thrive in my so-called career. It really is weird when you think about it: the western millennial generation is blessed with all opportunities, anyone can in theory become anything they want (look at Trump – but that’s a different story) but sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. Where should we go? What should we do? There are as many answers to those questions as there are people. Family, friends, society – everyone tells you something different, that’s why it’s hard sometimes to clearly hear your inner voice.
I knew I needed change. But I was scared. Quitting or stepping out of my comfort zone have never been strong points of mine, but the inner pressure was killing me – I had to do something. I thought about it a lot, talked to my mum and friends and then I just went for it. Even though the circumstances weren’t perfect and I hadn’t gotten the go-ahead from outside yet, I finally knew I was ready inside. I quit my job, booked some flights and went for this new adventure without any schedule. I just had to promise my mum two things:
I am 25 now. I’ve already travelled a lot in my short life but never on my own for this long. My journeys taught me how to get along with myself and most of all how to have a good time on my own. The weeks before leaving my home in Munich were full of mixed feelings – joy and anxiety went hand-in-hand and I cried and laughed a lot. The fact that I met a great man just a couple of months before I left didn’t make the decision any easier. Even with his support for my plan, we knew this wouldn’t work out so it ended before it could even begin. My heart was full of pain. But what is a journey without pain? We wouldn’t appreciate happiness and joy as much without it, would we?
My journey just started – my first stop was the Philippines (you can read more about one of my best trips and tips in an upcoming post!). The farewell was quite hard but good things wouldn’t wait for long: just after I boarded the flight from Istanbul to Manila I had the pleasure of sharing the seat row with an older Filipino man, and all I can say is he was just about as sweet as my favorite pie. We started with some small talk but after the ice was broken, we had a great conversation about the current political situation in the Philippines, German dumplings and just about anything you can imagine. After the landing he noticed my fatigue and confusion caused by all the signs. That’s when he took me under his wing, got us a taxi and paid the ride to my hotel in full! I didn’t want him to but he was so fast I couldn’t even look. Too fast for his age if you ask me. All I could do was give him a big hug as a thank you. It wasn’t much but it was truly heartfelt.
Maybe you have heard this phrase before but it’s true:
Sometimes you have to quit and risk losing something before you can win something new.
Take heart and step out of your comfort zone. This won’t be easy. The price for your vision might be high, but it is insignificant compared to the regrets at the end of your life, when you will find out that you have surrendered your visions because of fear and anxiety.
For the first time in my life I am full of courage. The smell of curiosity is in the air and I can’t wait for all the adventures to happen! I can’t say that after this trip I’ll know exactly where I want to go in life, but I’ll be full of unique experiences and new perspectives so I’ll figure something out.
I wish you the same. I wish you courage, curiosity, faith in yourself and mostly I wish you an open heart.
For the moment – of course a super deep statement for your journey from my favorite movie:
Inside all of us is Hope.
Inside all of us is Fear.
Inside all of us is Adventure. Inside all of us is a Wild Thing.
— Where The Wild Things Are
This is a guest post by Dilan Wagner.