I stepped outside as the raw February air hit my face. The rising sun hid behind the low-hanging clouds above and provided no refuge to the frigid temperatures. I buttoned up my peacoat and fastened my scarf tight around my neck. I had a thirty-minute walk to work that bent along the blustery Boston harbor. Gritting my teeth, I began my morning commute.
While the Southie streets were quiet and calm at this time of morning, my mind had already started to swirl with noisy thoughts. For several months I had been coping with a debate that raged inside of me. Over the past five years, I had been building a promising sales career in finance which I had thought would be a career path I could follow for life. However, more recently this assumption had started to unravel.
The more I thought about what it would mean to stay in this career longterm, the more I began to question it. While the job had undoubtedly given me an impeccable work ethic and attractive paycheck, it had also given me loads of stress and taken lots of my time. On top of this, sales had always left me feeling greatly unfulfilled.
Was this really what I wanted my one life to be like? When I’d ask myself this, one voice in my head would respond with a definitive no way. But the other voice would then remind me about the work I had put in up to this point and all the money I’d be leaving on the table if I left.
As I walked to work that morning, crossing over into Boston’s Seaport, I began to get mad at myself. What had happened to me? A year early I was climbing the sales ladder and loving it. Now my mind was clouded with uncertainty, doubt, and fear. Everyone else at work seemed to be content in what they were doing. Was I the only one that felt this way? It sure seemed like it.
I pushed through the revolving doors and shot up the elevator. With each floor that passed, I felt my energy level dip lower and lower as my heart sank knowing I had another day ahead of me. Over the last month, it had not only been my mind that felt out-of-whack, but also my body. It was like I had become allergic to my office.
I trudged over to my cube and sank into my swivel chair as the white walls and ceiling closed in on me. I strapped on my headset and went through the motions as my colleagues filed in around me. It would be another morning spent in a career that I didn’t want anymore.
At lunchtime, I slipped out of the office to a cafe across the street. I had been using this time to get space from my work and plot out various escape plans. But today, I noticed an email from someone I had met recently outside of work at a Meetup group. Upon hearing about my dilemma he encouraged me to try meditation. I had tried it a few times up to this point but I couldn’t tell if I was “doing it right.”
I opened the email and saw it was a link to a blog post called “The Mustard Seed Story.” I clicked on it and began to read. It went something like this:
A young woman named Kisagotami lost her only child to illness around his first birthday. Terribly upset, she walked from house to house asking everyone she met for medicine to revive him.
Many neighbors thought she was crazy and closed their doors. However, there was one man who suggested she go to the Buddha to find the medicine she was seeking.
Kisagotami went to the Buddha and begged for the medicine. The Buddha replied “I do know of that medicine. But I will need a handful of mustard seed from a house where no child, husband, wife or parent has died.”
Kisagotami set out to find such a house but slowly came to realize that there were none to be found. She returned to the Buddha empty-handed.
“Have you procured the handful of mustard seeds?” He asked.
“I have not. There is no such house. Everyone has suffered the same as me.” Kisagotami replied.
I closed my email and put down my phone. I was unsure of what to think of this story. After some time, I went back to the office and made my way to my cube. Before sitting down, I scanned over the large sales desk that stretched from window to window on our floor. There were fifty other people sitting here, just like me. Was it possible that, like Kisagotami, I too was not alone in my suffering?
I sat down and smiled. There had to be other people going through the same dilemma I faced. There just had to be. And if not on this desk, then somewhere in this world. It was then that I decided I needed to start sharing my internal struggle. It was then that the idea for this blog was born.
The moment I started sharing myself with the world, amazing support and opportunities opened up to me.
You too are not alone in the suffering you face. It might feel like you have a problem that no one can understand, but that’s not true. Everyone faces their own struggles and the biggest mistake you can make is thinking you need to face it alone. In fact, the moment you open up is the moment the magic starts to happen.