Here is the story of a doctor who quit her job to travel the world!
(Writing this in an organic farm in a remote village in northern Thailand where I and my husband Vijay are volunteering.)
As I sleep in an open hut, gazing at the fire flies outside, listening to the pouring rain, I ponder what made me leave the comfort of my home and job, put all that I need into an 11kg backpack and set off to travel the world!
Was I too bold or plain crazy to just quit my job to travel? Well, I was working as an assistant professor in Pathology in a medical college. Dealing with cancer diagnoses and teaching young doctors about these terminal conditions was an everyday affair! What made me take this radical decision of resigning from a decent and comfortable job I had?
Traveling was something I always enjoyed. Even as a child I remember pestering my dad to take us out on a vacation at least once a year. He used to do his best, of course, but he was too busy with his work. I used to ask him, ‘Dad, there is so much of the world outside for us to see! You have to take a break once in a while to travel!’
And then medical school happened. Ten years of my life were sealed! Of course, I had lot of fun, made some great bunch of friends and went out with them on short trips and picnics but it was just not enough to quench my wanderlust! Sometimes, I feel doctors are so over-worked both during the grinding medical school and later on that we don’t have time to even think about our dreams.
And then the most wonderful thing happened. I met Vijay! Of course we knew each other from when we were kids but we started seeing each other only two years before we got married. You know what was one of the few questions I asked him initially? ‘Do you like to travel?’ Yeah, I was very clear with this one! I just wasn’t ready to be with someone who doesn’t like to travel. And the stars were in my favor. He said, ‘Oh yeah! I love traveling! My current aim is to go to at least 30 countries before I turn 30!’ Wow! Now that’s something! Here I was, a budding and struggling doctor who had not even been on an airplane all her 25 years of life and there he was, a techie, counting the number of countries he had traveled to. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason we got married – I know life is not only about traveling. 🙂 After the wedding we went on a two week holiday to France and Switzerland which made me fall in love with those countries 🙂
Post marriage, we went through the usual phases – an initial honeymoon period, some ups and downs, settling down in a house, my adjustment to a metropolitan city (Bangalore), securing a good job etc., I was really bugged of relentless study in medical school for almost 9 years! I decided to take a break for a few months after marriage. And to this day I feel that’s one of the best decisions I took. It gave me time to settle down, accept new things and most importantly realize my passion for traveling. I always knew traveling was my favorite hobby but it was only during the break that I realized that it was much more than a hobby. We used to travel almost every weekend. I joined several trekking groups in Bangalore and went out with them. And the joy that used to fill my heart after each trek/travel was something that made me realize that this has to be an essential part of my life!
And then I got a job! A job which I was looking for – one that involves both teaching the medical students and working in a hospital. I was thrilled! It was going well but then I no longer had any weekends for my travels! I had to work on Saturdays and sometimes even on Sundays. It was a struggle to take even 3-4 days off to go somewhere! I liked the job but not the lack of freedom.
And then our trip to Ladakh happened. It was our first anniversary and we decided to do something adventurous. The road trip to Ladakh was a life-changing experience for us and we were hopelessly bitten by the travel bug. This time we really had to do something serious about it. And we did.
I had most of the things that people usually aspire for – a happy marriage, good education, loving family, a decent job, good friends, overall, a comfortable life! But time and again I felt an unexplained lacuna – maybe the lack of freedom to travel, an urge to break free and explore the world in which we live, a wanderlust! I always discussed these with Vijay. He, being the most supportive spouse and my best friend, always listened to my thoughts and shared his own. Both of us diligently planned and collectively took the decision of traveling for a long time.
I definitely went through a mental turmoil before I actually submitted my resignation! Was I doing the right thing? Am I going to struggle after coming back? And I had to convince my family and friends too. They were skeptical initially but eventually saw what I was trying to tell them :). The day before I gave my resignation, I went to a coffee shop and pondered about what I really wanted to do in life then? And the first thing that struck me was my favorite saying –
Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail.
There it was – my answer. Yes, I really wanted to take a break to travel and see the world around me. I knew this was the only time in the near future I could do this. And I had Vijay who shared the same thoughts. What else did I need?! My mind was very clear at that very moment and I happily submitted my resignation. I was finally free to TRAVEL!
And the freedom that I have felt since then is something that words can’t explain. It is one of the best and most important decisions of my life and I’m so proud of it! I’m doing what I love – traveling to wonderful places, meeting amazing people from around the world, learning life lessons along the way. Traveling has opened up my world like nothing else. I have had such beautiful and eye-opening experiences which are helping me grow as a better human-being.
We also started our travel blog – Away from shor to write about our experiences while on the go and to inspire people to travel more.
I did not decide to travel to escape from my life or work or to ‘rediscover myself’. I simply like the idea of traveling as a way of life. Words fall short to describe the experiences I have had – be it listening with bated breath the painful account of how a Bosnian war refugee escaped from his own country to save himself or flying above the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon or talking to the school children in Poland about India or helping a farmer in Northern Thailand grow peppers or simply contemplating over a gorgeous sunset in a sleepy village of Laos.
Feel free to share your thoughts! 🙂