In 2011 I found myself in a job I wasn’t 100% heart and soul all about. The people I worked with were lovely and my job wasn’t bad, yet I found myself traveling every weekend to see friends and new places in an attempt to figure out what to do. My heart was desperately trying to pull me to something else. I knew what had to be done but wasn’t ready to admit to or make that decision nor had I garnered enough courage to make it happen.
Early on that year I came across the Holstee Manifesto. I printed it out, stuck it up at work and read it a time or two or possibly several times. One line stood out at that time: If you don’t like your job, quit.
It was that simple. If you don’t like job, quit. Here I had been making it all quite complicated.
In May I took a gigantic breath and took a leap: I resigned from my good and steady job in an uneasy economy to venture after where my heart had been fighting with me to go. I sold nearly all of my belongings, packed what was left in my car and started out on an adventure.
I planned a day at a time and went out to do things that I love… to meet new people, see new places, hear and share stories and take plenty of photos along the way. I left San Francisco and ventured around the Western United States and Canada. While in California I decided that I should go to Europe and five days later I woke up in London. I spent the next while exploring England, Austria, and France.
I spent 6 months being unemployed and loving every minute of it. I met some of the most amazing people throughout five different countries that shared their inspiring stories with me along with a healthy dose of laughter. Many opened their homes to me and so many incredible friendships were made.
I met people who love what they do and appreciate each moment of life. I’m an animator by trade and was able to attend an animation festival in Vienna, Austria. The people I met there were an incredible blessing and quite inspiring. They ignited an excitement within me as we talked about why we love what we do: the people, the art and the opportunities to share meaningful stories. All of this by sharing our own stories with one another. It started amazing conversations and brought ideas of how to create something truly meaningful.
There were many times I had conversations with people where we barely spoke each other’s languages and yet managed to connect and share adventures and our passion.
I played tour guide to two elderly German ladies while in Paris who then treated me to a cup of tea. One didn’t speak any English and the other very little and yet we spent the day together. I led them around and they offered up lots of advice and shared stories from their lives as we walked around the city.
In London I stopped in for tea at a local shop and had a waitress from Poland who was seemingly having a lousy day. After a bit of chatting and prodding I found out it was her birthday and she was alone in London working. I sang to her, she took a break to share a scone with me and we met up a few more times throughout my stay there to share a smile and a hug over a cup of tea.
I met a man from Morocco who was alone in Vienna and feeling a bit homesick. We had lunch and shared our stories of adventure and offered tips to one another of places to go and things to do. We found we had a mutual love for art and went on to explore a museum.
So many stories. So many incredible moments of talking to people about their lives and seeing that magical moment that the spark comes alive in their eyes. I love pointing that out to people - noting how evident it is of what their passion is through that spark in their eye.
The magical moment for me came when a friend noted how they saw that spark in my eye that they hadn’t seen in a while.
With 20 Euros left to my name, I headed back to the States with no plan in place still. I quickly found I was coming to prefer it this way. As soon as the plane touched down my phone buzzed with a notice about a job offer at a studio working on a pretty exciting project. AKA: Things were working out without me tightly holding onto the reins.
Each line of the Manifesto has it’s own impact and it’s own set of stories. I’m sure so many of us could share our stories relating to each line. For me, that one line gave me that final piece I needed to start an incredible adventure. Quitting my job was an incredibly scary thing in the moment — I felt as though I was running full speed into the dark, not knowing if I was about to hit a tree or run off of a cliff. As soon as I chose to make it a simple decision, it ended up being the best decision I’ve made.
I shed everything that didn’t matter and focused back on people and taking time to appreciate my surroundings. I slowed down, stopped worrying and didn’t try to plan out the future. (Did I mention this freaked my family out a little bit?) All of this allowed me to think more clearly, see such beautiful things and connect with people on an amazing level.
That has all fed back into my life and how I live now — how I approach a job, a move, a decision. I’m working with friends from around the world on projects to inspire and ignite that spark I love to see. Nothing is certain in my future and I couldn’t be more excited at the possibilities that brings. This is my life and there are far too many beautiful moments to be had and stories to be shared to waste any time.
Thank you Holstee for that reminder.
-Alexiss Dawn Memmott