How to escape the cubicle life and do what you love

23rd Aug 2017
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You can't always find your passion within you, you have to get out there and look for it. Sometimes, just being open and receptive helps. Make things happen. Unless you try a whole variety of things, you might never know what brings you true satisfaction.

Many of us dream of doing something beyond the walls of our cubicles, offices, and homes. Some of us have found an idea that we want to pursue, but cannot do so due to circumstances or lack of resources. Some of us want to quit our jobs but are waiting for the right time, whereas some of us continue to search for a passion that might make us feel fulfilled. All of us have felt the urge to get out and try something different, something that makes us feel worthy, that involves getting our hands dirty.

It can be quite disheartening to not have your potential used to the fullest extent. It can be even more stressful and pressurising to feel that time is running out, and you need to figure out what you want to do with your life. Having been in that place, I can say that a lot of that pressure is self-created. With some exploring, planning, and trials and errors, it is possible to stop feeling so 'caged in'.

While growing up, I was extremely sure of what I wanted to be after I grew up. This was precisely the problem because it changed every few months. One day I wanted to be a vet, another a designer. This pattern stayed with me in my young adulthood. My family, though very supportive, spent a few years in alarm as I flitted from one choice to another, in some sort of wild desperation to see where I 'fit'.

When I was 15 years old, I got it into my stubborn head that I wanted to be a doctor. I coached for medical school, abandoning music and art, the hobbies that had formed an integral part of my life. Soon, I realised my hands wanted more to hold a paintbrush than a dissection instrument. I refused the medical seat, went on to study engineering, refused the IT job I'd been offered, studied for an MBA, and dropped out of B-school within five weeks. The problem was also that I reasonably liked everything I did – but I clearly didn't like it enough. Something else always attracted me more – and I knew at the back of my mind what it was.

I wanted to write, I wanted to create. I'd been writing all through my college years, but had never really considered it as a profession.

When I got a job as an editor in a publishing house, my heart soared. While I spent the day editing academic books, I burnt the midnight oil by writing and drawing comics. I learnt (or at least, tried to learn) to play jazz, I travelled, I read, I experimented, I started building a portfolio, I started preparing for the day that I could do what I enjoyed doing full-time. My left brain came alive during the day and the right brain worked like a relentless nocturnal animal, hunting down ideas. My stint as a copywriter in an ad agency opened up further avenues for me to explore what truly made me feel satisfied. When writing and drawing became a normal part of my day, like brushing my teeth, I knew that it was something I could do for the rest of my life.

Life passes us by quickly, and many of us spend a large part of it doing work that we don't necessarily feel passionate about, with a constant suspicion that we might be happier doing something else. Here are some common situations in which we feel trapped, and what I've learnt from being in those situations.

I want to quit but cannot afford to

If you are bound by circumstances or financial commitments but you know what actually want to do, start planning for it. Make small sacrifices that will set you up for the day you're going to live that dream – it really is never too late. If you're not sure what next, start taking up hobbies, try out different things. Travel, get away (use those leaves, something I've really missed as a freelancer!), explore, keep learning. The biggest perk of being in an office job is that it gives you the liberty to go nuts when you're not working.

I want to quit but I'm too scared

If fear is what is holding you back, then that's, even more, reason to jump off that diving board. If you're scared about what other people will say, think what's the worst that could happen. There might be a few arguments, but tomorrow, everyone's going to forget about it. It's you who is going to live with the glorious satisfaction of having tried.

I want to quit but I don't know what next – what if I waste away

I've learnt that if you're a restless soul itching to make a change, it's unlikely you'll spend the entire day on a couch (of course, you're welcome to do that if that's what the break is for). But it's human tendency to fill our days with something meaningful. And there's only one way to find out what it is.

There's far too much pressure on all of us to be a certain way, or to perform in a particular field, or to just keep running in the race for more, more and more. There's too much emphasis on sticking to one ladder. What if I'm a chef today but I want to be a carpenter tomorrow? Do I not go down that road because it might look bad on my resume? I never understood why it is that we have to box our ambitions into one professional field. If you've studied Math but you want to be an astrologer, start looking at the stars right away. There's no reason to limit yourself (YOLO, and all that). Bake, code, hike, cycle, write, build – keep exploring, keep doing. Take risks, take chances, open up, embrace change. In my own experience, every choice that I've made has only helped me gain perspective, knowledge and an understanding I would not have got otherwise.

You can't always find your passion within you, you have to get out there and look for it. Sometimes, just being open and receptive helps. Make things happen. Unless you try a whole variety of things, you might never know what brings you true satisfaction. As Bernard Shaw said, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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