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Four years ago this August, my sister-in-law, Kerry, passed away from Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 33 (a year younger than I am now).
Nothing says life’s too short like the death of someone so young and seemingly invincible.
It was the wake-up call I needed to finally do something about my ever-present discontentment at living the average, conventional life, defined by society’s bullsh*t rules.
“Brules” are what Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, explains in his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. Brules keep us locked into ways of being that fail to serve our best selves. Such as:
>> The brule that sold me on the idea of traditional education, of paying 20,000 in university fees, only to graduate and then be told by the recruitment agencies, “It’s not a degree you need to get your dream job; it’s work experience.”
>> The brule that told me that “busy is a badge of honour” and success looks like an executive working from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in some smoggy city, away from trees, open spaces, and sanity.
>> The brule of “settling down” that plagued my late 20s, when having an established career (whatever that means) and saving for a deposit on a large box, which I should then fill with stuff to keep me weighed down to this way of life, was regarded by most as a priority.
>> The brule of “time running out” on my opportunity to start a family after the age of 30, when the likelihood of living happily-ever-after past this point never fails to cause a few raised eyebrows.
For some people, the clear-cut way of living defined by society’s rules helps them to feel safe and secure, giving them a sense of freedom in everyday life, and that’s totally cool.
But, personally, the more I’ve tried to commit to that lifestyle over the years, the further away from freedom I felt and the darker my soul became.
A few weeks after I heard the news about Kerry, I gave notice on my apartment, sold half my stuff, and put the rest into storage and bought a one-way ticket to Mexico.
I was determined to well and truly escape the conventions, expectations, and commonality of everything around me that I didn’t buy into. I wanted to find out what it felt like to be free.
Free to make my own choices, not those expected of me.
Free to be creative and reconnect with my inner voice.
Free to work, free to play, free to dance like no one’s watching if I want to.
Free to make mistakes, to get messy and find courage in imperfection.
Free to find myself and fall in love with what I discover—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Free to accept where I am and to learn where I want to go.
I spent my entire life being a “good girl” and doing what society expected of me. It was time for me to learn what I wanted and to start living my truth.
I knew that if I didn’t make the jump at that moment, I never would.
But, from the minute I quit my life and put “mission adventure” into action, I was plagued by the negative committee in my head.
“You just quit a 60k salary. Are you insane?!”
“You’ll never get it as good.”
“What are you going to do about a [pension/ buying a house/ having a baby]? Time is running out!”
“Mexico?! You don’t even speak Spanish!”
I knew, deep down in the warm fuzzy place made happy by cuddling childhood teddy bears, listening to Celine Dion, and roller skating, that it was the right thing to do.
Still, in moments of pure panic, I needed voices to drown out the inner chatter.
Here are nine quotes that motivated me to keep going on the journey of self-discovery, regardless. May they be a light to anyone who dares to dream of something else, other than the average:
- “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Sir Cecil Beaton
- “Just as a programmer can program a computer to do specific tasks by understanding its code, you can program your life and the world around you to improve, enhance the way you live and the experiences you have in this lifetime.” ~ Vishen Lakhiani
- “I am an artist at living—my work of art is my life.” ~ Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki
- “When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. That is—everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” ~ Steve Jobs
- “Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose—and commit myself to—what is best for me.” ~ Paulo Coelho
- “People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. What we seek is an experience of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell.
- “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” ~ Maya Angelou
- “They say time changes things, but actually, you have to change them yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol
- “Sometimes the smallest decisions can change your life forever.” ~ Keri Russell