Professional Pit Stops

2017 has been a bit of an up and down year thus far. While I loved the achievements and strides I’d made in my personal and extra-curricular life, I sat down to reflect upon my professional life and realized I wasn’t as happy with the targets I had hit, or the heights that I had reached. I found I had gotten into the habit of not wanting to wake up in the morning during the week. This turned into restless hatred and I eventually started having headaches by the time I got to the office – I was burnt out.

All work and no play makes Babz a dull boy. Have truer words ever been said in all of time? The daily chore of a 9 to 5, coupled with the monotonous nature of day to day activities is comfortable at best, but it’s easy to get into a rut if you ask me. Just as muscles get used to routine workouts, we too need to shake things up. It’s time to put your laptop away and get your beers out! We’re going on vacation, baby!

We’re all continually hustlin’ in the game of life looking to win, but just how important is it to stop and smell the flowers? I may not speak for everybody, but an overwhelming majority genuinely fall under this category – myself included – that you need to always be running because if you stop, somebody else will overtake you and you’ll regret it.

I’m here to preach my story, and hopefully show you the benefits of relaxing, uninhibited time off!

Along with 3 of my best mates in Houston, I traveled to the North Western most tip of the US to the beautiful San Juan Islands for a 2-day kayaking and camping tour. Realizing that we’d have no cellular reception, we were forced to talk to each other – this is not the highlight of my journey.

Jk, I love y’all.

But seriously, there are so many lessons you can learn from being disconnected and in your comfort zone. While this zone will vary from person to person, the purge of social and professional “responsibilities” has helped me immensely in a number of ways. It’s very simplistic but literally everything you do with the outside world has an impact on your life.

The first thing I found was that physical barriers are only as hard as you make them out to be. I’m not the fittest person in the world and was tasked with kayaking in the ocean for over 25 miles (spread across 2 days in a tandem kayak yes, but still). With choppy currents and a fear of oceans and its infinite depth, I chose not to look down at all and focus on getting from point A to B. After about 20 seconds though, you realize that you’re doing well and keep pushing. We all put our little fears in our back pockets and made it through – why can’t I do this for things I’m challenged with in life?

The mentality that I have no options and I have to get through to where I want at that point galvanized me and took me across. I sincerely hope I brought that back with me.

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The second thing I realized is that technology has put me in touch with people all around the world, but it comes at the cost of those around you. Being in a neutral environment, everybody is on level playing ground. Whether it be kayaking through waters, making lunch on the side of a beach or erecting tents in the dark of night – we worked together as a team and developed instant connections with everybody. There was a relatively diverse group of us and we all got along from the get-go. More than the new friendships that were made, it was building stronger bonds with my friends that were around me that made a difference. We talked philosophy, we talked science and tech, we even yakked like teenage girls gossiping about boiz too – the full gamut. You spend so much time engulfed in little pockets of your own world and you forget how easy and wonderful it is to have a conversation and how quickly one can be inspired to make small changes. I, once again, sincerely hope I brought back my desire to put my phone away and talk to the world around me more regularly.

Just to build upon this a little and work into my next point. We all sat down in a group and were discussing our professional lives with the people around us. Each more unique than the last, I genuinely forgot that there is life outside of engineering (DO NOT TELL ANY INDIAN PARENT OR GRANDPARENT I SAID THIS- ain’t nobody got time for a punishment double masters in engineering) from a person who simply loves whales, to a retired nurse and a biology teacher who teaches everything under the sun, simple passions drawn together really open your eyes to the amazing spectrum of work that happens around you. Each story was built to inspire, riveting in their own special way and the joy of watching people who love what they do gave me new feelings of content that I’d like to aspire to. Whether this means that I need a change of place is left to be desired, but the fact that I opened my eyes up so much helped a lot!

To be honest, social media does give this to me, but you get so inundated with nothing but success stories mentioning how many times they fail that you sort of become impassive to the message after about 20 minutes – that millennial goldfish attention span ammirite Justin?! (parks and rec fans know what I’m talkin bout)

Once the day was officially done and people retired to their respective abodes, I took time to myself and sat down to watch the sunset and gather my thoughts. Usually being distracted by my phone or shiny objects, I started to appreciate my surroundings. It was calm and tranquil. The transition from appreciation to my mind switching on and thinking about my life was seamless. I started introspecting various aspects of my life with a clarity I can’t really describe. I found myself flying through time and emotionally charged at various aspects of my life. I feel like I connected more with myself and reaffirmed what I truly felt strongly and passionately about. Not having the pressures of others success burdening my peripheral vision was all the breathing room I needed.

I also started to daydream like I did when I was younger, flying planes to winning the world cup for India all in the same stretch – where did our imagination and creativity go? When did I become boring?

I need to make damn well sure that I bring this back with me!

The next morning, we were all up by around 5 am and immediately had to pack up, have a quick breakfast and get out onto the water. Now I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but I woke up with no qualms and no swear words – I actually wanted to get up. While I took time with my morning ablutions, I understood the difference between this and me getting up to work was as simple as me wanting to and enjoying what I am doing. I tried to figure out where that passion had fizzled and how to rekindle the flame – much like that ex you wanna holler at to show you don’t care about them.

nyway, moving on. We got back on our ‘yaks (that’s what all the cool kids call em) and set out on our way for day 2. The calmness and serenity made me fall in love with yakin’ all over again. This is something I genuinely enjoyed and found a passion I never knew was within me. Would I have figured this out by watching a youtube video? I don’t know… wait.. brb
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No, I did not figure it out watching it. In fact, I watched a video of the best moments of Tobias Funke (analytical therapist….. aka.. oh wait, not appropriate) after about 30 seconds.

I think the bottom line here is that I discovered a passion just by going outside my comfort zone for a day. This has got to be applicable to the daily chore of life. Surely there is more that is meant to be.

This will probably be the hardest to bring back with me, but again… I hope.

Once we were done and had come back to Seattle to head back home, I sat on my flight and had a long deep conversation with my partner in crime – Pavi. We discussed what we learned and what really mattered to us. I might not have rekindled my love for work at that point, but I have definitely given myself a second chance. Why am I so worried about little things when there is the whole world around me to explore. I got home at 5 am and was at work by 8 am and I want to say I was as fresh as a mint leaf – but screw that, I was tired as shit. But I powered through and enjoyed a hecticly nice day at the O.

In summary, while the experiences we will all have varry, I feel like the core message will always be the same no matter what new environment you put yourself in. Try to find the simple lessons life has to offer you and make the most of it folks.

  • Barriers are meant to be broken – Viva Mexico!!
  • Friendships are meant to be created and nurtured. Spend time with those you love having around and elevate your relationships.
  • Listen to those around you in a real environment instead of continually relying on the internet for short lived motivation.
  • Take cues from nature and let yourself go sometimes. Screw what the world thinks, what do you think?
  • Morning poops are the best place for realizing things that are smack in front of your face.
  • Explore the possibility of new passions, you never know what you may find.
  • Reignite passions and rejuvenate yourself for the travails ahead.

All in all, I think this was a pretty damn awesome trip. I brought back a bucket-load of memories. Made and elevated relationships in my life and enjoyed a sense of peace I hadn’t for a long time. Everybody deserves a break and should not be afraid to stop for a second because its slow and steady that wins the race.

OH, before I forget. Did you know that Indian people could get sunburnt ?! I certainly didn’t. This was a lesson I could have avoided.

Anyway, hope you had fun living through this adventure with me. I hope all you professional men and women take a leaf from this book and get out and do something constructively useless just for the fun of it !

Till next time y’all

Babz