How Living in a Van Set My Mind Free
I see a different future now. It's almost been a month since I moved into my van and life is much different.
At first, I couldn't let go of the past. Not completely at least. While my furniture and bed were nowhere to be found, it was hard not to continue using some luxuries that were already paid for.
With no bed and on the hook for my apartment another two weeks, I started out parking and sleeping in my apartment complex parking lot. Over that period, I woke up every morning in my van and walked to my apartment to do a morning yoga session, take a shower, and eat breakfast. It's crazy how comfortably I slept at night.
While a strange experience, nonetheless, it taught me to embrace my new life. It turned out to be a good adjustment period. My fear of what people might think of me had gone up in smoke. I no longer cared.
Their has been a lot of curiosity. People ask me what it's like all the time and I tell them...
"It's like a cocoon. Each day I'm reborn and I fly away. I've become a social butterfly unafraid of what anyone thinks, turning any negative into a positive as I soak up every opportunity that comes my way."
The other question I get a lot is how much I paid for it?
My typical response is to say, "It's not important how much I paid because at the end of the day, it gave me a new lease on life. You can't really put a price on that, can you?"
Some things haven't changed but my attitude has. I'm enjoying life again as well as my career.
My job is still extremely important to me. Some people are surprised when I tell them. They can't believe my mind is free of that corporate mindset while in their perception I still work in it. It's not corporate I tell them but in their view it is.
Just like my decision to jump into a van, my decision to remain working full-time is my own.
I'm learning, I'm growing. Now it's all the time not just part time. When I started my career out of college, it took 6 months to find an extremely unsatisfying job doing business development where most of my pay was commission-based. IF ONLY YOU COULD SELL THAT SOFTWARE.
With minimum hours and little hope for the situation turning around I knew it was time to go.
The day I handed in my resignation letter I got an unexpected call. It was a recruiter who cold called me about a great opportunity as a entry level consultant for a restaurant software company. While at my lowest point, someone threw me a lifeline. That's something I will never forget.
My whole life prepared me for an opportunity like this. A hunger inside me had been waiting to be unleashed. This was it.
At first, I had a rush of energy. My work was satisfying, it was fulfilling. There was so much to learn. The wealth of knowledge senior managers and coworkers had to share made each day race by. By year three I had taken over the Product Management team and felt the pressure of a path someone else determined for me. But, it was not my path. Their was something missing and I knew it.
Boredom set in and with a little introspection everything became clear.
It's crazy how things change. Not suddenly, but over time. A combination of things took their toll on me draining the energy and excitement I once had. The constant roadblocks, difficult employees, and weight of extreme expectations were hard to deal with. Work took over my life. My mind locked on the vision of what I could become rather than who I was becoming. The more I tried to control, the less I seemed to be able to.
A shock in the system left me questioning the direction I was taking in life. My voice needed to be heard. When all seemed lost for the second time in 4 years I took back control.
Rather than hoping, wishing things would change, I found my voice again and was about to chart a new path in my career. MY OWN!
8 months ago, I took over the marketing department and it was rough. Everything reset. I knew very little. With little knowledge in my memory bank on how to best do things I knew it wouldn't be easy. It almost overwhelmed me.
In life, their are lows just as much as highs. Taking the road less traveled is not always easy but it makes you stronger along the way. With the toxicity technology has created through instant gratification, I've learned that there is far more pleasure and joy when you have to work hard for things. It's true; good things come to those who wait and even better things come to those who stop saying "No" and start saying "Yes" when new opportunities present themselves.
It's the same with the van but rather than charting a new path in my career this was my life. Their's a lot to learn and a lot to take in. But by asking questions, reading, forcing myself into positions where learning's a necessity, I've discovered my youthful energy once again. Some people try to be that sore thumb in the room pointing out all the things I should be worried about in this new lifestyle and I simply tell them,
"You can figure anything out if you have no choice but to figure it out. When you're finished you have something new to add to your knowledge bank and that is a rewarding feeling. Their's nothing to worry about when you frame things in the right perspective. Often times a positive mindset and strong will power is all you need."
To take back control of my life I've had to let go. It's actually been really easy. The lack of hesitation to make the change in the first place let me know that I'm on the right path. I'm discovering myself all over again.
I let go of Product Management like I let go of my apartment. My goal in all of this being to learn constantly, with a fresh mind and fresh perspective, never forgetting the important rule of thumb that LIFE SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN TO SERIOUSLY.
It's crazy to think that it's only been 4-weeks. I'm enjoying life again. I feel alive; like a kid seeing a starry night sky, the ocean, or the snow for the first time. I'm noticing the little things my mind was previously to clouded-over to see. I've fully-embraced the giving, caring, happy go-lucky person whose beens staring back at me in the mirror all these years.
People appreciate that. It's really rewarding - this weightless feeling; no pressure mounted on my shoulders with the ability to give back in a meaningful way.
I'm free of worry and free of fear. It's this freedom that has made me a better person.
It's funny how serious a lot of us take life. By stepping outside of what I thought was my comfort-zone it's become apparent that any discomfort has become my new comfort. I'm enjoying this. Not one negative feeling. This is the best I've felt in a long time and it's amazing how many opportunities are coming my way.
I have an endless amount of stories, lessons, and personal thoughts to share. Let me know if you have any questions or any suggestions for a future blog post. It's been on exciting adventure so far and this is just the beginning. I've only touched the surface of what's to come.
Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need in life. It's always attainable. When you don't know something it pays to humble yourself and listen. It's also about having the confidence and trust in yourself to go where you want to go. By letting go of a little comfort you force yourself to think in a whole new way. To me it freed me from a tunnel of boredom where I felt closed off from a craving for endless opportunity and possibilities.
It's a good feeling to set your mind free. Don't stop yourself because of pressures placed on you by others. Take action. Your life is in your hands. The decisions you make have reverberations, good or bad, but it's never to late to chart a new course in life. If a fresh start is what you need go for it. Just think about how much more you mind will be at ease.