Finding the path
(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)
– What do you want to be when you grow up, sweetheart?
– External trade expert.
This conversation took place when I was at the age of five, when the mistresses in kindergarten pointed at me asking the Big Question about my future. Certainly I hadn’t have the slightest idea what external trade expert meant, this answer was created by my Dad probably to confuse the adults asking me stupid questions.
After a while, when I started elementary school, rooting in the sand I got to the conclusion that I definitely would become an archeologist, because this profession sounded very exciting to my young ears. Full of mystery, exploration and of course with popularity. Then I decided rather not to become an archeologist very quickly when it turned out that the vast majority of the job would be raking over the sand with a toothbrush and crying out in sheer joy when we find a broken mug part.
Later on I changed my mind a couple of times like normally I would change my socks, and wanted to become a lot of different persons. But my stamina or my imagination (or both) must have run out by the time I became 18, because when it was time to decide about my profession-to-be, my mind refused to work. I was watching my classmates with a mixture of jealousy and longing, just because they seemed to know what to do (some of them followed the path of the parents, mostly regarding medical and legal professions.)
And in the meantime I was just standing there with my arms outstretched, hopelessly, and not having any better idea, I followed my parents’ advice to go for economic studies, trying to keep in mind that some financial knowledge couldn’t hurt. I spent the next couple of years under the spells of numbers, rather scrupulously than enthusiastically, semester after semester, and by the time I smiled widely with my diploma in hand, the big question mark was hanging again above my head: what’s next?
My years in the banking sector taught me a lot of things, not strictly on the field of my profession though. I learned, for example, that if anybody exist who is totally incapable of fitting in the financial sector, that’s me. I was rebelling against suits with jeans, against arrogant people with humour. I found out also that I should deal with people instead of numbers. But in the infinite gap between the risk manager me and the photographer me, I was totally clueless what to do. But one of life’s countless miracles is that it hits you on the face when you are constantly want to go on the wrong track. It took me a long time to understand that with my “for-profit” mentality, trying to find a job at NGOs is not the best idea.
Then finally photography has found me like a devastating storm over my entire life. I felt I was on the right track, I found The Profession which I never believed I could. When this happens to you, you loose all your connections with reality, you’re over the moon and nobody can take the grin off of your face. You believe that everything is possible.
There is nothing, though, made only of chocolate syrup, covered with sugar, in the backstage all the big changes are full of pain, only we tend not to speak about the downsides. And I won’t do it either, because I’d like to write a basically positive blog post, so for the sake of pleasant outcome, let’s sweep this under the carpet.
So when everything seems to be the best possible, it turns out that everything can be even better. Founding your own business, after two years of studying, this is something money can’t buy and for everything else there’s… Total freedom is when you are engaged to the true passion of your life, work with the people you want, in the way you want, whenever you want and wherever you want. (And yes, this also has some downsides, in this case a big amount of uncertainty and the lack of planning, but if you know what you pay this price for, it’s worth paying.)
And then, out of the blue, an idea makes you ticklish, a feeling comes to you: the majority of the globe is unexplored if you stay in one place and never move. And when photographing a journey for a travel agency I keep thinking about seeing this planet for myself a little deeper, about stepping out of my usual life, about having interesting experiences, about taking a couple of great photos and about telling about it all to make others have their own journeys.
Then an entire year passes by. With planning, and planning over and over again. The Big Bugaboo would come out of the wardrobe once in a while and knocks on my shoulder: OK, dear Meli, but how can you make a living out of this all? Stress and anxiety are on the way.
I simply can not tell how many e-books, blog entries, so-called useful tips and tricks and bullshit I’ve read about how to make money out of our travel. But the only thing I’ve learnt from all this is how not to do it. I won’t sell out my soul, won’t stand by shit businesses, won’t chase popularity, won’t go only by contradictory expectations, won’t lie and cheat, and most importantly, won’t consider my blog as a cash cow.
During these pre-lectures I left for South-East Asia for my first adventures, made notes diligently in the hope of writing blog posts of them soon, when I finally start my brand new and shining little travel blog. At that time I wanted to become a successful travel blogger and I made my notes in this manner: all the travel book like articles with a lot of useful but boring information, counting tourist attractions and prices. At least this period didn’t last for long.
I had to realize soon it was not me, and this was all very exciting, but lacking every kind of emotion, style, added value, and vibrating excitement.
So finally I got rid of my former idea of creating another boringly useful travel description (no need of it), let financial issues go (let’s see how it goes), took a deep breath (and drank a crazy good coffee) and started this blog. It took me an entire year to get rid of my (not tiny) expectations, open myself for the unknown and unpredictable and start a journey which leads who knows where. But I did it and well, this may be one small step for a man, but…
Recently my friends (you rock!!! a great-great thank you, I am so grateful I have as wonderful friends as you) also helped me to admit that doubts and uncertainty are occasional travel mates of the creative minds, and that measuring yourself to others or evaluating your influence by reading statistics is a one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Now I know what is important is not the number of likes or followers, but you who are reading this post, you are the ones all worth it, for the inspiring relations, nice feedbacks, your adventures while travel and the good vibes.
My friend Barna asked me a couple of days ago whether I was still trying to find my path. I raised my elbow questioningly, and I stated with a kind of fake and offended self-confidence that I was on my very way. But he is the last one who is contented with half-hearted answers, so he asked also if I am going to travel, take photos and tell stories for the next 5-10 years. And at this point it suddenly came to my mind that I missed an important appointment and sadly didn’t have a chance to answer..
Because how should I know? I might end up changing constantly and making changes at the same time, and if this means I am trying to find my own path, let it be. I don’t see the curves on the road, neither the obstacles. I don’t see the happiness either. I only feel that I am truly grateful for the opportunity of doing what I love to do and that something really amazing is coming next. And momentarily this is enough.
Even if being close to my 36th birthday I still can not give a proper answer for the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” just like at the age of 5.
(Pictures were taken in Myanmar (Burma) in 2016, during the first big journey of mine.)