People often ask me how it is that I ended up founding Tees For Bees, moving to Bali, and pursing this unconventional path. I know so many of you reading this are still in school or have yet to settle into a career, so I wanted to share my story and what I have learned so that you can hopefully use my experience to manifest your dreams and follow your passions.
I was always good at math. And I quite liked it too. Whether that be that I liked math in of itself or rather just because I was good at it I'm not sure. But regardless, my mathematical aptitudes were applauded by my teachers and peers alike, and so it only made sense that I pursued this skill that society told me was my most valuable asset. After high school, I completed a degree in mechanical engineering at a very good university, often eliciting a "wow, good for you - you must be smart" response when I told people what it was I was doing.
Everybody, including myself, assumed that what I should be doing was the conventionally "impressive" pursuit of a career in engineering. I did my four year degree and got very little out of the academics as I was never passionate about what I was learning.
When I finished my degree, knowing that I wasn't particularly enamoured with the engineering profession, I looked for work on the business side of things, and I took on yet another "prestigious" role. I worked for one of the largest corporations in the world in a very competitive role where I traveled all over North America working on various high-profile business and marketing projects. Again, when I told people what I did, I was met with "wow good for you, that sounds like the coolest job."
But I was miserable. Miserable to the point where I was seeing doctors and psychologists and I just didn't understand why I felt so horrible all the time. In a sense I am grateful for this misery, because it became the impetus for quitting my job, and was the first step to really discovering and developing myself.
I realized I was miserable because what my soul wanted and where my passions lay were at a complete odds with where I was investing my time and energy. From the moment I decided to pursue a degree in engineering, I never stopped to question it or to listen to my inner voice. Never before this point did I stop and think to myself "what is it that I'm passionate about that I can spend my life doing?" Since I was a child I was always writing and reading and drawing and philosophizing - largely artistic pursuits. But this wasn't encouraged as a viable career path by society and therefore I was blind to my own aptitudes and passions. It's so obvious now, but at the time of discovery it was like this aha moment of: "wait - just because I'm good at math/business/whatever doesn't mean I'm obliged to pursue it"
So I considered the things I actually enjoyed and valued: creativity, artistic expression, connecting with nature, expanding my consciousness, freedom. And I made a promise to myself that I will be true to my soul and engage in pursuits that nurture these values, not pursuits that ignore them. Tees For Bees was just the natural outcome of manifesting these values; it came to me organically as I thought of ways to live that allowed me to be creative, to connect with nature, and to make a difference. At first it seems more difficult than following a conventional path, and I certainly am not met with the "wow good for you, you must be smart" response that was elicited by my former pursuits, but I think the most difficult of all paths is to live a life not aligned with your passions and values.
When you consider your own mortality (morbid, I know), and the fleetingness of life, it really leaves no logical space for investing your time and energy into pursuits that don't align with your values. I think too many people go through their life on auto-pilot, doing the "practical" thing, only to wake up one day and ask themselves what the hell they have even been doing for the past 60 years.
"so many people choose a path out of fear disguised as practicality"
So what I've learned is to relentlessly and passionately create your own path. Before you continue further down whichever path you happen to be on, ask yourself "does this path align with my values and passions?" Life becomes infinitely easier and more fulfilling when you are true to your soul, and as a society we unfortunately don't encourage and reward people for listening to their inner voice and discovering themselves.
I now take time each day to quietly think to myself and to explore my own mind, and every day I discover new things about myself, my thoughts, and the way in which I am connected to the universe and everything around me. The better you know yourself, the better you will be able to choose the correct path for yourself and create your own magic. We should applaud others not for following paths of prestige, but rather for following value-led paths of fulfillment. Take the time to write down your own values and see how many of those values are aligned with your current path in life. If there is little overlap, it's time to follow a new path. Time is one of the only things in life that we can never get back, and I wish for everyone that they spend it wisely and passionately.