No Price Tag for Happiness

Posted on 02 December 2009

Happiness

“Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes.  There is no need to explain or make sense of it.  Just trust what you feel.” ~Unknown

Last year I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Writing.

During my college career I created public relations material for both my Business Writing minor and the public relations firm where I interned. As I thoroughly enjoyed my minor and the internship, I decided to apply to more PR positions.

About a month into the job search, I was hired to work at a reputable public relations firm. Excited to start the next chapter of my life, I thought I had it all—a new apartment in San Francisco, great roommates, new friends, and a stable job.

Wow! This was the real deal. However, the excitement of my first “real” job quickly wore off. Although I may have enjoyed my experiences in college, I failed to ask myself an important question: Was I really passionate about agency PR?

As much as I loved San Francisco and the new friends I was making, I discovered that PR didn’t give me a sense of fulfillment. I got no thrill from bouncing around client accounts doing tasks like monitoring media coverage, drafting pitches, researching speaking opportunities, and reading about client competition.

I couldn’t spend my days working in an office doing something that didn’t make me tick. I quickly realized that in order to be happy I needed to make a change.

Five months after getting hired, as the economy slumped to an all-time low, I did the unthinkable: I resigned.

Many people asked me why. They said things like, “What’s your next step? I don’t understand why you would quit your job. What if you can’t find another job? Now you won’t have a 401K plan. Now you won’t have a paycheck. That’s not a very smart idea right now.”

They brought up valid, logical points. Still, I was not ready to live that cookie-cutter lifestyle in the cocoon of a stable yet unfulfilling job. The only answer I could give them was that it wasn’t my passion. It didn’t feel right.

I didn’t want to all of a sudden turn thirty years old and look back and say, “Where did the time go?”

Life is too short not to do something you love. I needed something more. I needed to take advantage of my youth and my interests. Time was on my side.

So, I took a risk and climbed out on a limb. Why? Because there is no price tag for happiness.

Unsure of my next move, I knew that I had to do something fulfilling. With some extra money from graduation, I decided to follow two of my biggest passions in life: traveling and helping people. I ventured to Peru.

Yes, I was nervous. But the truth is that I was more nervous to stay at my job than I was to travel to an unfamiliar country.

In Peru, I climbed out of my comfort zone and did things I’ve never done before—tried guinea pig, explored Incan ruins, communicated with locals in Spanish, rode jam-packed buses, took cold showers, wore dirty clothes, bargained, ate two-dollar beef hearts on a stick, painted a battered women’s shelter, volunteered with underprivileged children, and learned to teach English.

What a joy it was to experience a different culture and change lives.

This time off has given me a chance to explore my interests and continue pursuing them. I am now back in the states, preparing for my next journey.

In a few months I will start teaching English in South Korea. There, I will be able to balance several of my passions and interests all at once—traveling, cooking, writing, helping people through teaching, taking pictures, examining international business opportunities, public speaking, and meeting new people.

I learned that in order to taste the sweetest fruit of happiness, I need to extend myself and climb out on a limb. In staying true to myself I feel rejuvenated and enthused. Taking a risk has unquestionably made all the difference.

Photo by Lel4nd.

About Alexa Hart

Alexa Hart is a California native who loves traveling, entrepreneurship, and life. Her dream is to start her own business. Follow her on Twitter @alexahart or visit her website here.

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