Everyone talks about how a sabbatical will change your life.
So I took that sabbatical. It extended from 6 months to a year. And now on the other side of that year, I find myself sitting at my computer about to tell you the same thing.
A sabbatical WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Take it!
1. It will make you prioritize
Someone once asked me to pick between a 5 star and a tent, I said “both”. I always wanted it all, the luxuries and the hardcore experiences, the 5 star buffet and the local village meal, the drunk night out and the next morning adventure.
I was two very different people in one.
So often on sabbatical, you are faced with that moment when you have to pick. It’s not this AND that, it’s either or. Because there is only one real you. But luckily a sabbatical usually does make you stop for a moment, take a step back and actually figure out what you want to do, not what everyone wants to do. And then gives you the chance to do that.
P.S. I pick tent
2. It’s a big world with a lot of different people
We often grow up and live and eventually die in our comfort zone, surrounded by people we have always known and loved. But what scares me is what about all the other people in the world, I’m never going to meet them, know their names and stories. But luckily I did meet tons. (never enough though)
You’ll meet all kinds of people. From strangers that change your life with one conversation, to strangers that stay strangers after a whole evening together. You’ll meet people that you’ll trust with all your heart, that will give your life new direction, help you without any reason. But you will also meet people who are nasty just because, people who will break your trust, who will not be what they say they are.
But the point is, the more you meet the less you didn’t meet.
3. You will stop finding yourself. You’ll start making yourself
I always wondered who I am, and I was always trying to figure out in my head, what box do I fit into? When one day I realized. If I stop thinking so hard about it and just start doing what comes naturally to me. I’ll start becoming myself. So I did.
On sabbatical you meet a lot of new people and are put in a lot of new situations. These might be out of your comfort zone, but that is exactly when you do something new, you don’t act out of habit. And every time you think for yourself, figure out the answer to a question you don’t already know the answer to, take a new decision, you are becoming more like yourself than you’ve ever been.
4. You’ll get more confident
I was just another South Bombay girl, with a decent career, a good set of friends and a lot of dreams. But so were a thousand others. And more than a thousand other girls were prettier, had better careers, cooler friends and even better dreams. How could I even compete?
But somewhere I stopped trying to compete with them, I started competing with the old me instead. And guess what, I won!
On sabbatical you get the chance to start living the life you always dreamed of and becoming the person you want to be. Day to day life won’t come in the way. The more you push yourself the more you’re going to start liking yourself. And when you like yourself, others find it hard not to.
5. You will learn to let go of what you can’t control!
Why hasn’t he called me back? Why doesn’t he see me the way I see him? Why does she always talk to me like that? What if this was the best I was going to get? What if my flight gets delayed tomorrow?
These questions never had answers that made sense to me. So I stopped looking for them. Instead I started letting life ask the questions: ‘what can you make of this crappy situation? What to do this weekend? Where do you want to go? And enjoying the unexpected answers.
On sabbatical you are always meeting new people, travelling to new places, experiencing new things. Carrying old baggage around gets tiring.
It slows you down, it stops you form enjoying this moment, that you have now and you will not have even a minute later.
You will drag some of it along for a while, but at some point you will let it go. To hold on to something new, something better than what you had! To be free to live in the moment before it passes you by.
6. You will say yes to more
The best things happened to me when I least expected them to. So often I wanted to say no, but I pushed myself to say yes. And the results were unbelievable. I found a place that stole my heart on my Cinque Terre trek, I understood my body more than I ever could, I got stung by a plant, I attended and sang along at a Dutch church mass, I saw a seahorse inches away from me. And to think, that I never wanted to say yes to any of these!
On sabbatical, you will have a plan or at least an opinion. And those will hold you back. Try to purposely go the other way, say yes to a plan that has nothing to do with your own, let someone else lead the way, do that thing that scares you. And just wait to be amazed!
7. You will change your life
You will discover new role models, find new life mottos and fight society to hold on to them tight and live them!