I was sat watching part 2 of ESPN's '30 for 30' documentary profiling Lance Armstrong with my parents one evening last month, when a thought suddenly crossed my mind.
"Is it Sunday today?"
It sounds innocuous enough when written down, but it was a poignant moment for me. It was Sunday I soon realised... (I even asked my parents out loud - "yeah, why" came the response) but something felt strange, different. Why didn't it feel like Sunday?
In a moment, it all came rushing back. I realised that I no longer had those dreaded Monday blues which had plagued me for so long. I remember them getting them as a teenager (school tomorrow), and then as an adult (work tomorrow). In that moment, I felt content - and I no longer had that Monday dread.
Wow. A wave of gratitude went through me, and I found myself a little teary-eyed. This might sound like a small thing on the face of it, but it's pretty major for me. It's a stark indicator of just how much my life has changed in 5 years, of a day I still remember when I handed in my notice to my job in the City. Sundays morning always had a sense of quiet dread about about them. It would linger in the morning, start to take shape in the afternoon, and really start knocking at the door in the evening.
The weekends never quite felt like they were long enough. Saturday felt like the only 'proper' weekend day... Friday evenings even better, as it still felt like there was 'lots of the weekend left'. Fridays would be recovering after a long week of being out in the world (#HSP introvert), before that blissful day called Saturday, the day that was all mine - the day of the week. Before Sunday soon came and had that 'Monday is coming' feel to it. It never truly felt like I could enjoy Sundays (and, I'm also remembering going to Sunday school, which didn't help either).
For a time I thought it 'just Jasraj being an idealist', 'having his head in the clouds', thinking the 'grass was always greener'. These were some of the messages I received from those around me, who meant well but this sort of advice/messaging just didn't serve me. Deep down, my intuition knew all along what I wanted and needed. And working in the City was not it.
When I left my job, I didn't really appreciate the twists and turns that would follow, or how my life would change beyond this distant hope that I would find something I care about and feel happier.
Here's what '5 years later' now looks for me in 2020:
I mean, I had to start here really. I can't tell you how grateful I felt that evening, sat there on a Sunday evening, with my loved ones on the sofa, feeling relaxed, carefree, content... and not at all worried about the next day. I feel so fortunate, especially being able to compare Sundays now vs Sundays then.
Less tired, more energy
Being a 1:1 private tutor and especially since going 'remote' with the lockdown, as well as working on INF club, I am in greater control of my time + energy, and that thing I value so much - freedom. I am not only happier with what I am doing each day, but I also have more space (time + energy) for those things outside of work that are important to me and play their part in my living a balance lifestyle, and a more meaningful life overall.
More quality time with family and friends
This is helped by point #2 (when I was in the City, Saturdays were for sleeping/taking my weary body to the gym... certainly not socialising - my energy levels were frazzled from the long hours and energy-consumption that came with a sales role). This has also somewhat been helped by the pandemic (working remotely), but it was also true before the pandemic, too. I have been able to spend more time with my family and friends; having the energy to do so, not being so exhausted all of the time, and actually being able to be present with them.
When I left the City, I realised that I didn't have proper 'friends' since school; even those were limited, there were just a couple, and I'm still good friends with the guy I considered my school 'best friend' today. My other closest friends include a couple of others I went to school with (primary/secondary), and a couple of guys from my gym, where I was spending (pre-pandemic) a fair amount of time, either in the gym itself (+ the spa), or the cafe I'd use as a co-working space.
I have been more intentional about who I spend my time with, and I have identified the few friends I'd like to spend time with and build deeper connections with (folks who are like me, who inspire me, and I feel good around). I have realised that connections is everything, and especially in the fast-paced world and digital age we live in, it's something that many of us seem to be lacking and - on a primal level - we so need. Building deeper connections - with close family and close circle of friends - is so important to me.
Showing up as/being more myself
I feels so fortunate to now be able to show up more as myself in interactions I'm in. Don't get me wrong, I still feel like an odd-ball at big Indian weddings (and generally don't say too much to inquisitive - aka nosy - relatives: 'So what are you up to these days?"), but it's really nice to be able to show up more as myself in the world, because in my 'work life' I'm doing what I want to be doing, and not what I'm merely putting up with. I recently attended a virtual event for an online conference and it felt so fake and corporate and yucky... it reminded me of my time in the City and how I, and everyone else, seemed to wear this weird mask and speak corporately, rather than on a genuine, human level. This was one of the reasons that - especially as time wore on - I found my job to be soul-depleting.
More trust in the process
I remember how I had imagined (and hoped) that my career change to be neat and linear - "I'll now move onto this next job / start this project and it'll work out great and I'll live happily ever after."
This is where my idealism can get the better of me. Linear? pah!
Here's what's actually happened:
- started various blogs
- started an education business ('Thriva')
- explored being a sports coach
- worked for an FS startup
- started a freelance content business
- explored a 'yoga in schools' business
- explored a youth club / community gym idea
- and a bunch more ideas / exploration of stuff
It has been far from linear, but I have learned with time not to cling too hard to outcomes, rather to be curious and take step-by-step action - and see how where it leads. By simply putting myself out there and doing something to see what happens, I have built confidence and belief in myself. This whole school -> university -> job treadmill that many of us find ourselves on, came with lots of 'stuff' and social conditioning I had to untangle myself from... it's taken some time, and has been a challenge (downright scary, even), but I feel much better - and more human - for it.
Overall, I feel more free, in alignment and more human which - in a job that was exhausting and unfulfilling and just wasn't me - is the opposite of what I was back then, just 5 years ago.
There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, with some necessary 'hurdles' (e.g. a depression/anxiety diagnosis, some time in therapy), but I wouldn't change the journey for the world. Where I am today is someplace I had never imagined I would be, and the journey continues... let's see what happens over the next 5 years.
ps. here's what I wrote shortly after leaving my job, hitting publish on Medium on 14th July 2015. I think this may have been the first ever blog post I shared online.
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