Sometimes couples take a “break” when the relationship gets rocky. Students get breaks between semesters. Runners take breaks after big races to give their bodies time to heal from the hardship of the long run.
The purpose of these breaks is to give us rest from that which we are tired. The point is that we give ourselves some distance and hopefully return to this thing at the end of the break with a different perspective and renewed energy and passion.
I took a break from life last year.
I quit my full-time job to pursue travel on a serious level. I became an au pair with a family in Spain, I happened to meet and fall in love with a European dude, who is a huge reason I chose to extend my stay in Europe. But at the beginning my intention with my “trip” was to get away from the daily grind which I hated so much. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or what direction my life was headed. All I knew is that I worked a lot, I ran a lot, I was going through the motions of life, and I wasn’t satisfied. After careful planning, I packed my bags for Spain last January. I can easily say that was the best decision I’ve ever made.
The person I was last January is much different than the person I am on this new January day. Last year I was clueless about what I wanted. I was worn out, and I felt lost and a little hopeless. Then I arrived in a small Spanish city and lived in a house where lemon trees lined the driveway. I lived on a mountainside, and I could see the sea when I stepped out into the street. I ate slowly. I walked a lot. I genuinely and wholeheartedly fell in love. And I had a change of heart.
I recognized where my talent truly lies, and I decided to study law. That is simply a minor detail of the message I hope to send. Yes, I recognized my purpose, but I also have a drive that I have never had before thanks to the break I decided to take. I’m excited to go to school again and go through what I know will be the hardest academic pursuit of my life. I’m excited to pursue that daily grind until I have “JD” at the end of my name, as well as the official authority to defend the voiceless. I’m excited to live like a pauper (aka law student) and re-start my life in the USA. This “gap year,” as the Europeans would call it, has given my life exactly what it was missing; direction and purpose. My passion has never failed me. I’m always passionate about at least one thing. But for the first time, I’m passionate about what I know is going to be painful and difficult. I’m so happy I have this opportunity to study again. I’m lucky on so many levels. I’m lucky to be a citizen of the first-world. I’m lucky to have this second chance at a career, at a time that’s not “too late” in my life. (I use quotes because I personally believe it’s never too late. But you know what I mean!!)
I even took a break from running and ran casually for an entire year. Now I’m pumped to start training for my first half marathon in well over a year. I feel healthy and strong and ready.
The last two weeks I was in Paris with my love for the holidays. I was sick for a majority of the time, but that didn’t ruin any previous plans we had made. I took the time as it came, and was happy to spend time with my boyfriend and his friends and family. My computer also developed a virus, and I couldn’t work or write for a solid week unless it was on my phone. The day my computer was functioning again, I sat down and wrote my personal statement for law school in less than an hour. I was ferocious and direct in my words because they had been simmering in my mind for days. The break had given me time to create the story I want to tell the admissions officers. And here I am tonight, writing this post with all the passion in my heart, planning out a couple projects for this site in 2017.
My intention is to carry this fire with me throughout 2017 and beyond. We often fear taking breaks, especially from things that make us feel safe and secure. Last year the break that I took was the scariest decision I’ve ever made, and it put me on a shiny, happy, new path. I urge you to take a break, even if it’s as simple as unplugging for a week. Deactivate social media for a month. DON’T exercise for two weeks. (Scary for some, huh?) The beginning of the New Year is often about picking up better habits, but why don’t you just take a break for awhile? I think it will do you some good. 😉
In related news, stay tuned for the 2017 Minimalist Project, which I am rolling out ASAP. 😀