In the 8 years I spent at AOL (2003 – 2011), my career had peaked in 2008. That year, I worked my ass off and made a name for myself in the company, earning accolades from not only the Bangalore office but also from AOL offices in London, New York and Sydney! But despite the praises, the awards, the salary hikes, promotion, etc… by 2009 I was feeling depressed.
When you achieve a certain level of success, your higher ups don’t sit back and tell you to relax and take it easy. The targets for 2009 were even higher, so were the expectations from me. At this point I began asking myself one crucial question: “Am I happy?”
In 2009, I was spending long hours at work and every weekend was spent looking for an apartment. Due to the recession, the housing market was down and it seemed like a good time to purchase property. But no matter how many projects me and my brother saw, we just couldn’t find the right one that suited our budget.
Back at AOL, we saw a change in management when the company got a new CEO. Rumours started flying about certain teams getting shelved and impending layoffs. At around this time, the very higher ups who set the high expectations themselves left the company. How did I feel? Worse. Aside from the fact I was getting tired of the work, I began questioning myself on the point of working so hard now. I mean, I work for months to achieve targets … only to see my projects shut down later? What’s the point?
My personal life was no better. I did travel a bit but even with travel — I was tired of seeing the places in and around Bangalore. I had seen enough of India and felt like traveling abroad. Then one day in November, I woke up and felt a little different. I went online, checked some airline fares and saw a return ticket to Bangkok for just Rs. 15k. I used my credit card and bought it. After my booking was confirmed, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was about to go abroad after a span of 7 years. I was excited but very nervous too. I went to office that day and somehow didn’t seem to care much about talks of layoffs.
Long story short, I visited Thailand for the first time in late 2009. The trip was far from perfect, but I was a rookie. I learned so much from my visit abroad. After landing back in Bangalore and on the way back home, all I could think about was “I want to travel, I want to blog, I want to travel, I want to blog, I want to travel…”. And a few weeks later, mithunonthe.net was born and I began writing about my Thailand trip. And people liked it!
When I went to office the following days, I just stopped caring about office politics and only focused on my work to make money and save up for my travels. In 2010, I went to UAE twice, returned to Thailand and visited Singapore & Malaysia with friends.
It’s amazing how much my attitudes and interests in life changed with just one trip abroad. I really felt I was starting a new life. That one trip sparked a new flame inside me and pushed me to new challenges. Taking the BTS in Bangkok and not driving calmed me down and it made not want to rush in traffic when I returned to Bangalore. Seriously. I was always a patient person but I became a lot more patient and calmer now. That’s how much I changed after that one holiday.
Sure, my credit card bill from that holiday was huge and took me a few months pay to clear it off, but somehow it didn’t bother me as much. This new life, with a new ‘me’ and a new attitude to life, I achieved something my failed career failed to bring me in 2009 — happiness. I was happy, and five years on, nothing has changed. I’m still happy.