Few months ago I spoke to a friend who wanted to quit her job. Quitting is not difficult but what made her hesitate was that she hasn’t found a new job yet. Many people experience such quandary especially with our constant use of social media nowadays, it’s easy to compare our life with that of others and feel we need to be somewhere else or having something else or whatnot.
What I noticed though from our conversation was that whilst she was determined to quit her job, she didn’t know what she truly wants to do. She had several options in mind but she didn’t have clarity on how to make the transition. She wanted to pursue entrepreneurship but she didn’t know what products or services to offer. She wanted to pursue the arts but that would mean starting from scratch. These aren’t all bad things, after all a lot of people succeeded by taking risks. In her case though, she didn’t have enough savings to support her through several months which scared her from quitting.
Another thing I noticed in her is that her frustrations weren’t all coming from her job. We all experience some bad days at work and at times people –who may just be going through tough times – are rude. Sometimes routine jobs can get painfully boring. At times problems arise one after the other leaving us burned out. But there are several ways to deal with these circumstances and turn things around if you have the proper mindset and positive attitude. The challenge comes when the problem isn’t the job itself but us. That’s when I suggest you travel.
Traveling has its way of healing whatever negative feelings we carry. If we are so bored of a life of routine, traveling breaks this monotony and stimulates our senses. The experiences we will encounter while traveling can melt negativities away. Traveling can remind us that there is more to life than feeling bitter and unhappy; that there are things far greater than ourselves but that what we do – no matter how menial it seems sometimes – contributes to a bigger picture, to a larger cause.
Back in 2011 I visited the village of the long-necked Kayan women in northern Thailand. I was naive then, didn’t know the ethical and social issues around this so-called “human museum”. Whilst aware of the health issues they may face from wearing heavy neck rings (I was told they weigh 14kgs), I understand that it is part of their tradition. The discourse on whether one should support such kind of tourism is never black and white, considering that they are refugees in Thailand without opportunities for other forms of livelihood. The best a tourist can do is support them through buying their crafts or give them cash as a gesture of thanks after taking their photos.
For a lot of people though, money can be a hindrance to traveling. However, as the cliché says, “we work to live not live to work” so if you reach a point where you feel that life was sucked out of you then money should not be so much of an issue. You are not going to spend your hard earned money extravagantly anyway because going for a short trip should not be expensive. You can travel to a nearby place or a different country, it’s all up to you. There are a lot of information available online on how to reach your destination without breaking the bank.
Back in 2011, I was suffering from burnout. It seemed as though I could not feel any positive emotions. A delicious meal doesn’t taste good. I keep blaming work for my unhappiness. One weekend, I traveled to Chiang Mai up until the borders of Myanmar. I went on full online detox while traveling so I can fully savor the experience. It was only for two days but I felt significantly better. On my way back to Bangkok, I took the train because other than it was way cheaper than flying I just love long train rides; it gave me an opportunity to pause and just enjoy the countryside scenery.
If I didn’t go on that short trip up north and committed to undergo an online detox, I would have resigned from my job in no time. I was glad I did. I felt rejuvenated after. When I came back, I also removed my work email from my phone and noticed that I felt more relaxed and positive after.
When my friend confided to me about her urge to quit, I told her to travel. And so travel she did and now she is still working at the same job. When she is not working, she is out strolling at a nearby park or traveling to nearby provinces. With camera in hand, she captures the beauty around what seemed like a mundane place to those who only exist.