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I was given many signs that normal life wasn’t meant for me. One was on Christmas Eve, an inevitably slow day in the office, my eyes wandered towards the glass between the warm California sun and me. I sunk down solemnly in my seat and with a desire to be uplifted, I turned to a Ted Talk where a man spoke of an underground world of bioluminescent creatures—plankton, sharks, octopus, and stingrays. Slowly coming out of the sea into the space of my fluorescent office, a deep feeling of life, living and passing on without me had coursed through my body. Feeling the strong curiosity to connect with what lies beyond, I was confused with my choice to be in this closed space. This was one, out of many internal conversations, that had led me to believe that the life I was living just wasn’t for me and since you’ve clicked on this article, it probably isn’t for you either. By turning up the volume of this inward voice—my jungle within— I was able to find the strength to leave normal life, embrace the unknown, and never look back.

By ‘normal life,’ I’m referring to the expectations that guide us into thinking that there is no other way to live beside working in an office job 40 hours a week—spending all your money and time on items that accommodate this lifestyle and on vices that try to fill a heaping gap of fulfillment. Not to say there’s anything wrong with normal life. I mean you get a steady paycheck, scheduled holidays, paved roads, Amazon 2-day shipping, guaranteed weekends off, and other nice convenient things. If you like your normal life and don’t find any need to change it, by all means, skip over this entire article. However, if you were like me, and would’ve trade anything to be freed from the invisible rules that had so much control over my life—when I woke up in the morning, how fast I chewed my food, when I would see my family, the clothes I had to wear, how I would be “productive,” then read on. But normal life didn’t just govern my physical time; it took over my attention and energy, as well. I was expected to pay half of what I earned on rent to be able to afford the city in which I worked. I also was expected to buy a car I couldn’t afford to be able to commute to and from my work. Sometimes I just really needed a day to recharge, but I was expected to need only 10 days a year to do this. There were so many expectations that came with living a normal life that that seemed unreasonable. But for how much I understood this, I still found it hard to leave.

The hardest part about living normal life was knowing it wasn’t right for me, but not being able to justify leaving. I mean I had made it. I lived in Santa Barbara, where the sun shines and the vibes breathe—a place where everyone and their grandma wants to live. My work was pretty boring, but, hey, at least I received a paycheck to sit in a chair and press buttons on a screen. Maybe if I worked a little bit harder, I could advance, do something a bit more interesting that pays more? Oh besides, I can’t leave my job until I have another one, right? My mind gave a lot of arguments as to why I should stick to normal life, but it still didn’t feel right and eventually, my body made the decision for me.

Sometimes when your rational mind doesn’t listen to what your inner person truly desires, it will let you know in other ways. For months, before I quit my life, I felt a strong fatigue when I would sit down at my desk. At first, it was manageable, just would drink some coffee and go. But as time went on, the fatigue became so unbearable that I had thought I might be allergic to something in my apartment. I moved apartments, however, the fatigue still continued. In the midst of trying to figure out what was wrong with me, a friend noticed my anxiety and had asked me if he could practice a myofascial massage on my body. Myofascial massage is a type of massage that focuses putting pressure on points in your body to release, sometimes, years of built-up stress. Each time he let go of a pressure point, tears came streaming down my face. It felt as if things, ideas, expectations of myself had been finally lifted. All I was in that moment was my inward person—my divine, essence, or jungle. Being fully in my inward person, like a third eye, I was able to see that the things I was doing in my life—the job, my relationships, and the quick fixes, were not serving me. My inward person just wanted to see the world and observe it. She just wanted space, quiet, and time to think, which I was not afforded in my daily routine. She wanted to push boundaries and encourage my other self to do things that would inspire our growth. It became clear that if I wanted to feel whole again, I would have to quit things that didn’t serve my inward person and start incorporating things that do. The next day I sent in my resignation. Left with no plans, I could only think of doing what I’ve been dreaming about for last couple years: exploring the jungles of Costa Rica. With a one-way ticket, I prepared to leave a life I had no idea when or if I would come back to.

When taking this leap of faith, many asked me if I was scared of the unknown. Which: of course. But after finding my jungle backbone, the known seemed much scarier than the journey that lied ahead of me. People tried to persuade me against my decision, telling me it would be hard for me to find a job when I returned or that I would get harassed in Central America. I would lie if I said I didn’t experience any fear from these comments. However, the inner voice that led me was stronger than the outside voices that deterred me. Since leaving normal life to travel and learn how to build my own way, many of my problems have been alleviated. I don’t experience fatigue, anxiety, or depression in the same circular way I did in normal life. I give myself plenty attention to the things that nourish my inward person—walks in nature, writing, and long dinners with people I care about. Yes, not all my problems went away. I still have to find ways to earn money in a much more entrepreneurial fashion and I work harder now than at my previous job. I also, still experience a good amount of stress. However, it is a different type of stress—the type that pushes me to continue so I can see how my unique journey will unfold. This, for me, is everything worth fighting for.