Me: “I want to give up my job and my car and travel the world with some clothes in my backpack.”
My friends and family: “Are you f**king crazy? What’s gotten into you? You’re kidding, right?”
I am Ankit Rawat, 25 years seven months of age, Indian by nationality, mechanical engineer by degree and a creative entrepreneur by heart. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Dehradun where I was born and raised by my amazing parents and did all my schooling. The next seven years of my life were spent in Dubai where I went to university and worked successfully for three years. This totals to around 25 years and three months. For the remaining four months, I have been doing what everyone calls “My Dream.”
My life until July 2014
I grew up in a very healthy household. My parents provided almost everything that I ever wished for and honestly, I had nothing to complain about. They got me enrolled into one of the best schools in town and so the race of life began. For almost 14 years that I spent in school, I remember hearing one thing the most: “Study harder or you’ll end up nowhere.” I can still remember most of my teachers telling mom about my “good but can get better” performance during the parent/teacher meets. So the pressure had been building up forever; the pressure to work harder and perform better. My parents never really pressurised me though and I am very thankful to them for that. All they ever wanted was for me to have a life better than theirs and trust me, I would want the same for my kids even though I’ve had a spectacular life.
Coming back to the pressure cooker – I successfully managed to clear my 10th and 12th grade with flying colours and I made my parents and grandma proud. I thought the pressure would lessen a little but sadly, I was wrong. I was told that life is just starting to get real but once I get out of university and get a good job, life would be as smooth as fresh butter. I thus enrolled into the BITS Pilani Dubai campus to pursue my career in Mechanical Engineering, which, back then, I very eagerly wanted to do.
For four years of my university life, I tried to be a good student, a good son and most importantly a good human being. Till today, I feel I could have done better if I really wanted to. In my final semester of uni, I thought as long as I have a good job, not all will be lost. So my search for a ‘good job’ started. I finally ended up getting three offer letters before graduating, all three in the sales departments of the companies I had applied for. I chose a construction company to work with as I felt I could best use my engineering skills there, which I did.
I worked with all my dedication and honesty for almost two years and two months in that company. I achieved most of my given targets and made the management happy. Then I demanded a promotion and showed my desire to manage a team of my own. This demand was not well visited at the company head office and they told me I was not good enough. I didn’t really digest it too well to be honest. I decided to look for a company that would appreciate my hard work better and at least acknowledge me with a better job title, as without managerial experience, how would I ever manage to get into a good university for my MBA (almost every Indian’s dream degree)?
So I then got into a New York-based multinational and they gave me almost everything that I wanted – the money and the job title. I wasn’t really happy or satisfied, though. I felt like I should be my own boss and do something of my own. Nine months into the job, I started talking with some of my contacts to formulate a company of my own.
I then went to Vietnam on holiday with Andrea. While in Vietnam, I realised that the so called ‘good life’ that I had been living in Dubai wasn’t all that good. Yes, I had the money, I had the apartment, I had the car and I had the job and in most people’s eyes, I was living a great life.
While in Vietnam, all these materials started repulsing me and I started feeling really unhappy within. I felt how that was not the life I wanted to live. I then decided to get out of the corporate world and take some time out and think about what I really want to do in life. Andrea and I decided to pursue our passion for travel and while we do it, think about the direction I want to take my professional life in. And so we started.
I knew what I was doing but not everyone thought I did. When I told my friends about my decision, they thought I was kidding to begin with and when I told them that I’d quit the job and my car was for sale, it kind of hit them that I wasn’t. I got a mixed bag of emotions and reactions. Some of the reactions, as I can rightly remember are as follows:
“You have lost your mind.”
“What are you even saying, it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Trust me, you will regret this.”
“Wow, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I wish I had the same strength that you do.”
“I am so happy for you, there is nothing better than travel.”
Being an Indian, it wasn’t easy for me to come to this conclusion in my life and deal with the consequences. I will explain why I involved my nationality in this. All my life, society had been much more interested in knowing about my life than anyone else. The idea of not working was seen as ‘wasting your life’ and traveling on top of that was looked at being a ‘rich spoilt brat, wasting his dad’s money.’ I’ve never really cared about what society thinks (and no, my dad doesn’t pay a penny towards my travels).
My family (my parents and my brother) didn’t take it too well either. They thought I was not in the right frame of mind and was deluded. After much convincing and reassuring them, they kind of came to terms with how badly I needed this and how I wasn’t happy in what I was doing at the moment. Getting them comfortable with my decision was of utmost importance to me. They’d made a lot of sacrifices to see me where I was. One thing about my parents, unlike a lot of Indian parents, unfortunately, is that they are very open and supportive to new ideas. Fortunately for me, they soon understood and made themselves come to terms with it. I was highly relieved and will be forever thankful to them for their acceptance of my decision. If you are reading this Maa, I want to say ‘thank you.’ I would also like to thank Andrea for her continuous support before the start and during the journey.
Am I still happy with my decision?
And the right answer is, YES without a doubt. Today, I am my own boss. I work when I want, how I want, where I want to. I plan my day at my accord, I workout when I want to, eat when I want to and play around when I want to. Yes, I do maintain the discipline and I don’t waste my time but what I am trying to tell you here is, it’s my life, finally. My life is finally mine and does not revolve around what my boss wants me to do and where my job expects me to be. I do what I feel like while maintaining the decorum and the work ethic that I need to maintain.
Yes, I do not have the cash to splash around on things but I do have enough to eat well, sleep well, be healthy and most importantly continue my travel.
Traveling has taught me how to save and now I spend on things I need and not things I want i.e. I value the money I have. I used to spend a lot on gadgets I didn’t need, parties I didn’t need to attend, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned a miser and I do have the occasional drink every so often.
Travelling has also taught me to be patient and to appreciate my time and use it well. While sat on the plane or in a bus, I know how to use my time productively, rather than waste it on my phone, etc.
Traveling has also taught me to appreciate important people in my life more than I used to. I now spend more time with Andrea, speak more to my family and have the time to keep in touch with my friends, remember their birthdays and attend to them at least on a virtual level when they need me.
Travelling has made me calmer than I used to be. I know I’m not in the race anymore and I can do things at my pace. My blood pressure is at a normal level these days.
All in all, “Aal is Well” today and with your love and affection it will be the way it is. Thank you everyone.
Note: The world is going to tell you that your decision is wrong, that you will suffer but let me tell you something, this life is your own and you know what’s best for you. So, if you want to do it, do it and never look back!