Like most people, I’d heard of the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and found the concept intriguing, but I never actually had the inclination to read it up until a few months ago. I was catching up with a friend one afternoon when she told me about a friend of hers who had recently quit her corporate office job in New York and was embarking on a 3 month trip through Europe and Africa to relax, recover and regroup. What made her story even more interesting was that she had decided on a theme for her journey, “do, be, give”, drawing inspiration from the true-life story shared in “Eat, Pray, Love”.
At the time I heard this story, I was going through a turbulent time in my life. I knew that I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going and hearing this story was my catalyst for making a change. I decided to read the book that had inspired this idea and afterwards I embarked on a three month journey of my own, a period of reflection and action upon the “do, be, give” concept. I would like to share my experience with you.
When I started my second master’s degree in 2013 my goal was to land a job as a consultant by the end of the program. I applied to pretty much every consulting firm in the greater Amsterdam area and was met with either the standard rejection email, or even worse, with silence. Then doubt started to creep in: maybe I was too old, lacked a business background, I was handicapped because I didn’t speak the local language, maybe I had picked the wrong major. With each new rejection, the list of doubts grew longer.
I landed a job as an analyst for a healthcare non-profit and for a while I got sidetracked from pursuing my original goal. My job was good enough; but I always had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be or doing exactly what I ought to be doing.
After I decided to act upon the “do, be, give” concept, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and resume applying to consulting jobs that I wanted. One day out of the blue I got a text from a friend about a position with the UN that she thought I would be a good candidate for, and even though I felt like it was a long shot I applied and now a little over 3 months later, I am packing my bags and heading off on a 2 year adventure to work for the UN in Zambia.
At some point in the life span of this blog I’ll probably talk about my struggle with depression. For me, depression is like knowing the sun is shining but not being able to feel its warmth. It has affected not just my mental and emotional states but also my physical and social wellbeing. Alongside therapy and support from friends and family, I chose to get on medication during an especially rough period last year. It helped for a while, I was able to function and get through the day, but on the flip side I also felt like my life was put on mute, I could finally see all the colors but I couldn’t hear the musical accompaniment. Even though I no longer felt sad, I didn’t feel happy either.
For the “do, be, give” challenge, I made the decision to wean myself off my medication because I feel that I am at a place in life where I am stronger, mentally and physically and I want to know what it feels like to not have to rely on the medication anymore to eat, sleep and feel “normally”. It was a huge step, a scary step, what if I failed, what if things got worse again, so many what ifs.
I prepared myself for the unknown ahead, I took a leap of faith and so far it has turned out okay. I feel free and, some days, I am happy. Some days are still a struggle, but I’m getting there to where I want to be. This experience has strengthened my confidence in myself, and in my ability to think and act in my best interests.
For a long time I had toyed with the idea of starting a non-profit organisation as a means of contributing to the improvement of the lives of others in some way that I find meaningful and engaging. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I knew that I couldn’t do it alone.
A close friend of mine got married this year and I had the privilege of being one of her bridesmaids. As fate would have it, one of the other bridesmaids turned out to be a young doctor with a passion for non-profit work and youth development. I went out on a limb and shared my vision to create an NGO based in Nigeria. She embraced the idea wholeheartedly and from there, Give Girls A Chance was born. Our goal is to provide educational and mentorship opportunities to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they too may enjoy access to and the benefits of getting a quality education. By working on this project I have gained a new friend and co-visionary and we are one inching closer to seeing the manifestation of our dream.
I think the beauty of the “do, be, give” concept lies in its simplicity. And I hope that someone reading this post is inspired to take action. If there is something that you’ve been meaning to do, then find the courage to do it. If there’s a state of being that you’ve been meaning to inhabit, then find the fortitude to embrace it. If there’s a cause dear to your heart, then find the time to give to it wholeheartedly.
*I am not a mental health professional and I am not recommending that anyone on medication stop taking it or suggesting that you cannot be free because you need to take medication as part of your journey. I am simply sharing my experience because it is how it affected me and that is what I drew from that experience.