“You live in Costa Rica? I’m so jealous. I wish I could do that.”
I never know how to respond to this. On one hand, I am filled with a proud reminder of all that it took for me to make the move. However, the other hand wants to to grab their shoulder, shake them hard and tell them that they don’t have to be jealous. They can do the exact same thing! After all, I am not a magician or a miracle-worker. I am a woman who saw what she wanted and took an active responsibility in attaining it.
Almost three years ago I hit my bottom. I was a corporate drone, working 70 hours a week at a thankless job and my free time was spent either at the gym or with my married colleague with whom I was having a secret affair. At the end of the day, I would fall asleep to the tune of a stiff drink and an Ambien pill only to wake up in a panic the next morning, trying to remember what it was that I had to worry about on that particular day…and I found something every time, without fail.
Eventually, I made the choice to remove myself from both situations before they blew up in my face. Good thing too, because that time bomb was getting frighteningly close to its expiration date.
Before I made this choice, I had been living in a passive state, allowing life to pull me around by my neck and never taking the time to figure out what I wanted out of it. This sort of passivity reinforced the idea that I was nothing more than a victim in a cruel world. Life was a raging fist that kept punching me in the face, yet I continued to go back for more. I did this because passivity was (and still is) easier than making a change. In addition, passivity allowed me to be devoid of responsibility. In this, I could coast through life, blaming my parents, friends and even strangers for my problems. This was much less terrifying than looking in the mirror and pointing a finger at the real culprit.
The transition from living a life of passivity to one where I recognize that my life is actually a co-creation with the universe was no easy feat. This is an important piece of the puzzle that tends to get overlooked far too often by people who also live passive lives and think that I just blindly stumbled into the wonderful circumstance I find myself in today. When people see the life I live now, they do not see the sleepless nights I spent, wondering if I made the right choice. They do not see my friends and family telling me that I was crazy or just going through a “phase.” They do not see the evening when, not long after I quit my job, I stood in my kitchen, and made small incisions with a butcher knife into my arm because feeling physical pain was so much better than feeling as worthless and confused as I felt right then.
Why am I writing to you today? Because I want you to know that it is worth it. I used to work hard in order to achieve things that I thought I wanted…like a promotion, more money or a corner office. However, only a few years ago did I realize that this sort of reward for my hours spent were not worth the effort. It was time to up the ante. If I was going to work hard for something, the benefit needed to be much, much greater…cosmically greater. My work needed to be rewarded with a deeper sense of understanding of myself and of my life. It needed to be rewarded with love, good friends and family and a true sense of peace and happiness with life as a whole.
The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to heaven is paved with the blood, sweat and tears of our actions. Today I still have to keep checking in with myself to make sure that the efforts I put towards any task is ultimately because it is something that I want. Blindly following the masses without ever questioning them is one of the greatest sins a person can commit and a slap in the face to our creator. After all, we were designed perfectly. The best we can do to show appreciation for this gift is to have the courage to simply be nothing other than ourselves.
Author: Melanie Bernstein
Editor: Travis May