There’s something very important about me that many of you don’t know much about. It has to do with my past. I have decided to share a bit of my story with you today…
Searching for Purpose and Meaning
Almost three months ago, I quit my job. Many of you probably already know this fact. But what I haven’t written much about is what I did before I started traveling.
There are many other people out there like me who also have quit their jobs to travel. Most of them have stories that go a little something like this:
“I used to lead a miserable and unfulfilling life working at a meaningless job, trapped inside a sunless cubicle. Finally, I found the courage to break free and live a life of travel.”
While I completely admire these people and their stories, I feel like my case is a bit different. My job didn’t involve punching meaningless numbers on Wall Street or making money for big corporate businesses. I was working in a non-profit organization for refugees in Texas.
Did I dislike following the same routine every day? Yes.
Did I dislike answering the phone and sitting at the same desk all day? Maybe.
Did I dislike my job? No.
In fact, I had long considered working in a non-profit refugee agency to be my perfect job. My job gave me the opportunity to use my Arabic and Spanish language skills on a daily basis. Additionally, and more importantly, I constantly grew and learned from people who had been through hell and back, yet were able to keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Finally, I felt like I was making an impact (however slight) in refugees’ lives.
But I wanted more. I felt unfulfilled and frustrated. So I decided to strike out and explore the world to find myself, and perhaps find the answer to my restlessness.
War & Unanswered Questions
Now, let me fast forward to the present. It’s been two months since I left the US to travel, but I have yet to find my sense of purpose and satisfaction. Somehow my mind and heart are still restless.
These feelings have me baffled. Could it be that I miss my old life and job? How could I be living out my dream of long-term travel yet still feel unsatisfied? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks intensely contemplating my feelings.
Last week, while in London, I attended a poetry reading by Iraqi writer Mohamed Hadi at the Iraqi Cultural Centre. His poems mainly spoke of war-torn Iraq and the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people after the 2003 invasion.
The poems enthralled me. I spent the whole evening struggling to hold back my tears. At the end of the performance, audience members were provided with a free copy of Hadi’s book. I spent the next few hours reading the entire first half of it. The book told the story of a woman who goes searching for her kidnapped son in post-2003 Iraq.
From my experience working with refugees, I knew these stories weren’t just fiction. Every single Iraqi person I’d met had horrific stories to tell of kidnap, murder, robbery, and torture.
Iraq is now a shadow of what it once was. In 2003, Bush declared “mission accomplished” and then, eight years later, US President Obama declared the Iraq war was over. But for the Iraqi people, it’s far from over. Iraq lies in shambles. There are millions of orphans on the streets. Everyone who had enough money or connections has left Iraq to resettle in the West.
Then I had a revelation. A strong sense of determination overcame me.
Could this be the purpose that I’ve been searching for and the reason behind my restlessness? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have to do something to help Iraq and its people. I don’t know what or how, but I have to.
Recently, I have been following fellow travel blogger Hannah from Further Bound. She is following her passion for travel by keeping a blog which documents her indefinite relocation from the UK to India. In addition, Hannah is organizing a Rickshaw Run to raise money for charity. Though I don’t think driving a rickshaw through Iraq right now would be wise, Hannah’s efforts have inspired me and made me believe that there must be some significant way I can make a difference.
But how exactly?
That’s where you guys, my readers, come in. I want to hear your opinions and ideas. Has there ever been a cause you cared deeply about? If so, what did you do to act on it? What are your suggestions?