“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
I was at a crossroads. Each time I would visualize this in my head, I saw two paths. The path to my left was a well-paved road, one that would lead to a college degree, a high salary job, and whatever else was expected of me. The other on the right was the unknown. No road. You can only see a glimmering light from afar. A path blinded by the unknown and uncertainty. But somehow, I knew deep down that it was the path that I needed to take that would give me the freedom to do what I love the most. Somehow, I knew.
I was contemplating on whether not I should finish college. Or if I should opt out of getting a degree and pursue my passions: photography and traveling the world. I had just applied to transfer to five universities, but it didn’t feel right. Something inside me was telling me that I should steer off the path I was on and I got goosebumps every time I thought of it. For a while I didn’t listen because I thought it was crazy for me not to have a degree, I thought of what my parents would think, and if my family would ever approve of me. Back then, I thought they’d just think I’m a failure. A college dropout bum. I didn’t have the courage to do it, so I cowered back. I continued going to school, living my days daydreaming of traveling, of taking pictures in places I can only live in my head while being confined inside four walls shading bubbles on a scantron. Something inside kept telling me what I needed to do, but I kept ignoring it. My mind told me to stick to the plan, to please my parents and everyone else around me. To keep moving with the crowd, to not disrupt the bubble, and to not to leave the comfort zone. But that impetus to stray off the path was still there; it was in my gut.
Choosing the Road Less Traveled
It was in every cell of me. It was there when I dreamt at night, when I would wake up and go to school, daydreaming about the life I could be living and it wouldn’t go away. It kept telling me that I needed to find a way to create my own path. That I needed to take risks in order to do so. But I continued on through weary days, convincing myself that I was content with the path I was on. That grainy, sinking, consuming feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else kept growing. I was looking for ways to pacify it. I’d read travel memoirs, look through travel blogs, browse through the travel section of the bookstore, read Lonely Planet guidebooks, and flip through the pages of the National Geographic. Every time I saw city maps, atlases, globes, or hear airplanes flying by, I got shivers down my spine and a strong insatiable urge to buy the first ticket out of the country. I was on a brink of a huge shift in my life. And I felt every bit of it vibrating from my core to the tip of my hair strands.
I discovered High Existence and met Jordan at a very crucial point of my life. The day after Christmas of 2011. I was looking for a sign, an answer, something. I reached out to Jordan because I had a feeling that he could help me. And when we met, he laid those two paths out for me. As if he drew it all out and said, “Here, this is want you want. And this is what you don’t want. It’s simple. Just do whatever the hell makes you happy. Just follow your bliss.”
Back then I thought, as he explained this to me, that it wasn’t that simple. I started reciting the excuses I had as to why I can’t simply do what made me happy. As I listened to myself, I sounded ridiculous. I knew I was just making up a story. And that story that I was make up in my head was what was holding me back from doing what I love the most. And when Jordan said, “Just follow your bliss.” one more time, something clicked in my brain. And suddenly, the decision was made. It was perfectly clear what I had to do. Everything after that has consequently shifted my life.
Be So Confident in Your Path that You Dissolve Doubt
The next morning I told my mom what I wanted to do. I told her that I’m going to drop out of college because this path isn’t for me. That I wanted to create my own. She resisted for a while; she reiterated everything she had ever told me ever since I could remember. “You need to get a degree. Everyone needs a degree to be successful in life. You can’t just drop out and quit.” Our arguments went on and on. But somehow, she eventually gave in. I think she sensed that drive within me and she knew that she didn’t have a choice but to accept whatever it was that I was going to do. I told her that college isn’t for everyone, and that dropping out of college isn’t for everyone either. But I told her that this path just wasn’t for me. I told her that it wouldn’t be easy. That I will probably have to work harder than I would have to if I got a degree. That there will be failures and mistakes, but even if I had to pummel my way through it, I didn’t care. I knew I had to do it. For the sake of doing what I felt was true to me. For the sake of following my bliss.
All I had ever wanted was to travel the world, take pictures, tell stories. But above all, I wanted to help and inspire others and change their lives in some way.
So I did just that. A few months after I made the decision, I flew out of the country and backpacked through Costa Rica and Panama. Then I came back home to work and save my money, and I went back on the road again to Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. It was the best year of my life. I was wandering through places I had only dreampt of in a state of perpetual bliss. I met the perfect people at the perfect time. I was living nomadically with nothing but a backpack and I felt liberated. I never regretted my decision. There were life-changing lessons I learned on the road that I would have never learned through a book, a classroom, or a degree. The world has so much to teach us if we’re brave enough to explore the unknown and leap into it with open arms. And it was all there waiting for me at the other end of the flight. The universe had been conspiring all along to make it all happen.
I created a blog called InfiniteSatori.org to document my journey and inspire others through my journey. As my blog grew, I gained countless readers and followers from all over the world who grew with it. They silenced their fears. They silenced the discouraging words around them. They felt their dreams, their bliss, their goosebumps, and they followed it. I’ve received many messages from people who decided to take the leap, follow their bliss, and travel the world after reading my blog. And I can’t explain the kind of happiness that fills my soul whenever I think of this. I imagine all of them with their wanderlust slaked and bliss in their hearts. When you set out to follow your bliss, others follow it with you. Whichever paths they’re on, whoever, wherever they may be. We’re all on the same journey.
I am reminded of why I do this, why Jordan does this, why High Existence was created, why we should always follow our bliss. Because when you set out to inspire others, the light will spread and grace through the rest of us. And it will manifest through the intricate thread that connects us all.
So ask yourself.
What do you love? What makes you truly happy? What is it?
That thing that seeps through your pores, pulses through your veins, rises the hairs up on your skin. That thing that bounces from cell to cell and radiates from the very core of you. That thing that moves your soul when you act upon it, think about it, dream about it; that thing that renders your speechless, as if something innately within you comes naturally flowing out of your body, filling it with bliss as you continue doing whatever it is that you love.
Can you feel that?
Do you feel the most completely alive whenever you do it?
Good. Because whatever that is, it’s your soul’s purpose. It’s your bliss. And if you choose to always follow it, you will astound yourself with all the possibilities.
Joseph Campbell once said,
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
I held this truth. It’s not easy, I’ve learned that you have to let go and put your trust in the universe. And that you will have to keep trying. Even when it’s dim. Even when it seems bleak. Even when you’re struggling. You should always keep chasing after your dreams and following your bliss. Because eventually you’ll find that the walls turn into doors. And the doors lead you to your dreams. And your dreams come alive, filling you with more of the bliss you set out for.
Stephanie is a photographer and travel writer who created the travel blog InfiniteSatori.org. She is setting out on a journey to backpack all over Asia alone to photograph wanderers and nomads to tell their stories and create a book called The Wanderers. These wanderers could be anyone from backpackers, to sea gypsies, to vagabonding families, to indigenous nomadic tribes, and anyone who have detached from the common path to do the very thing they were born to do: to explore and follow their bliss. She will immerse herself into their lives, connect with them, photograph them, capture the essence of their being, the essence of their lives. Everyone has an incredible story to tell, it just needs a little light and she will go through lengths to find it. This book will prove that one person’s journey can ignite the beginning of many. That if we all continue to follow our bliss, we have the power to inspire the rest of the world to follow theirs.
Support and pledge to her Kickstarter project here: