Don’t be mistaken, this won’t be a zero waste movement type of post. And this is not about being a minimalist either. For me, living with less has meant saying no to a corporate career, fancy job perks, status, big paychecks, and, most importantly, society expectations. Having less of all this to chase my dreams. Eventually, it’s my take on how to live and experience more.
Ambitiousness and purposefulness are both very valuable characteristics to have, however, they also have a tendency to cause problems. How, you’ll ask? For as long as I can remember myself, I have always had high goals and ambitions for myself. They’ve been quite traditional (to say the least) – great career, family, happy life. Boring, I know, but it gets you going.
For me, though, these ambitions went hand in hand with perfectionism, and this friendly pair means trouble when you’re not looking after yourself and keeping things in check constantly. In the name of chasing my goals, I have driven myself to numerous burnouts, anxiety, health issues, and occasional depressive episodes.
I had to ask myself – was it all really worth it?
Of course, it wasn’t. I wasn’t saving the world, and I wasn’t feeding the kids in Africa or preventing natural catastrophes. Instead, I was chasing something that wasn’t for me and destroying my sanity along the way. I knew I had to pull myself out of this vicious cycle and stop trying to find non-existent purpose in things I chose to do for a living.
What if I could live a simpler life? Fewer demands for myself, less stress, less imagined expectations I need to live up to. But what scared me the most – being true to myself and living my dreams, not somebody else’s. I had no guarantee that what I embarked on would be the perfect happiness formula, and I still am not sure it is. But I had to give it a go.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know by now that before I moved to Switzerland I was pursuing a career in marketing, a successful one for that matter. I really enjoyed my job and found it challenging and exciting, but it did not bring me the fulfilment I was looking for.
The high-pace and ruthlessness of the industry and my own attitude towards work kept wearing me out. I was torn. I loved the thrill of making the deadlines and seeing enormous projects come to life and thousands of consumers, but I just kept looking for a deeper meaning in what I was doing.
I am in no way saying that there was no meaning and purpose. All I am saying is that it wasn’t enough for me. And, on top of it, seeing myself fall apart mentally and physically was too much to handle. So I decided to quit, to part my ways with the life I myself had built, and close that chapter for good.
I know a lot of you think and have even told me personally that not everyone can just up and leave so easily. I would love to prove you wrong. See, I have upped and left twice already. Oh, and believe me when I say that both times it was utterly challenging and difficult. It is terrifying and frustrating to let go of something you’ve invested so much in.
First time around, when I moved to Manchester, I did not give up my career – I just rerouted it in a different direction. More than anything, I wanted to prove to myself that it is possible to make a living somewhere else. But I did give up other things – the comforts of living in an environment you know so well, speaking your mother tongue on a daily basis, and seeing your friends, family and the beloved pets.
I thought that changing the environment would help me refocus my priorities and live a less self-harming life. But it didn’t. I fell into the same patterns. Being away from everyone I loved and cared about did not make the situation any easier, and I could not stop contemplating that I have to go for even bigger changes to find the peace I was so desperately looking for.
And then came Switzerland… I literally moved from a lively and pulsating metropolis and a high-paced, exciting corporate job to a small town in the Swiss countryside to do the odd seasonal jobs. I can’t deny that one of the biggest reasons for the move was love, but it was equally important as an escape from the chaos.
Have I succeeded, you’ll ask?
Yes and no. It’s all still a work in progress, to put it short. I am generally happier – I love the pace of my life, I enjoy the environment and the vast amount of activities I can do out here.
I love that I don’t have to worry if my clothes are good enough for the office life, if I look presentable, and whether my accessories are trendy and matching. I can just wear jeans and a hoodie, and I’m perfectly comfortable and fitting in. I don’t have to worry about having an ‘office wardrobe’ and ‘personal wardrobe’ as I only have the latter one now.
I am wearing less and less make-up, which is incredible given that I am not getting any younger. I don’t have to make a hairdresser’s appointment every few weeks anymore, because I just can’t be bothered and don’t really need it. In fact, I’ve not seen one in more than a year, but my hair is the healthiest it’s ever been.
All this doesn’t mean I look like a hippy and don’t take care of myself. I’m simply happier and more comfortable in my own skin. And I believe a lot of it is because of the environment I am living in and the jobs I do.
No one ever forced me to do any of the things I’ve gotten rid of, but you can’t deny, though, that one must fit in in their environment to live a comfortable life. And it’s way easier to change the environment than your mindset, and let it help you change for the better. I know that all of this, mostly, is in my head. And I’m determined to make it a healthier space.
I have felt a lot of changes in me, and I am enjoying them so much. It makes me feel so free to know that I could still be chasing my career in marketing and cash in paychecks two or three times bigger than the ones I am earning now, but instead, I have chosen a simpler life that gives me so much more in return. It feels good to be honest with myself and letting myself be myself. Plus, it helps me stay sane.
I’m on a pursuit of happiness and I know
Everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good