Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Closed vs. Opened Career Doors and Transit to Another World .
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Hello and welcome to episode #92 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Closed vs. Opened Career Doors and Transit to Another World.
Closed vs. Opened Career Doors
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” many asked. I always knew I wanted a career where I would do something to make a difference for children. Why? I had an unhappy childhood and wanted to do something to create happiness for children. It was as simple as that. As a young teenager, I volunteered in the classrooms to help kids. I studied Child Psychology in college and Education in graduate school. I got a teaching credential and became a teacher for twenty-plus years. I much enjoyed all those years with a group of different students every year. The variety of student personalities, tasks, and challenges provided a career that was never monotonous. I enjoyed seeing progress and growth in my students, and I loved them. I loved my career until, one day, I didn’t.
After twenty-two years filled with a passion for loving and making a difference for children, I stopped feeling it. It was most distressing because it was like I had lost my way. Since graduating from college, I have been on a path where I knew where I was going. I was clear about my direction and purpose. There was meaning to what I was doing in my work, and seeing my students improve and excel gave me great satisfaction. Now it was a meaningless and dissatisfying job. It was heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching to see my passion escape me.
Let me backtrack a bit. Twelve years into my teaching career, I was still passionate about my work, but someone invited me to a business opportunity. I checked it out, and it piqued my curiosity. I wasn’t particularly interested in the business itself, but one thing that caught my attention was the people I met from different walks of life. They had different backgrounds and jobs from mine, and I found it fascinating to talk to people who were so different from me. I learned so much from them.
Once, I sat down to have dinner with a lady I thought could become a friend as we were around the same age. I asked her what line of work she was in, and she told me she had done many different jobs. My reaction was, “Wow, you have had so many different experiences; I should try other things, too.” When she heard that I had been a teacher for over ten years, she responded, “Wow, you have a career you love and could do it for so long!” We were both in awe of each other. I secretly thought that people with many different jobs on their resumes were dissatisfied with their jobs, could not figure out what they wanted, or didn’t find their passion.
Though I continued my career because I still loved it, I went to business meetings as a side job where I didn’t make any money. I met more interesting people and learned more about things outside the education field. I also learned about money and its management in the business; I was in the financial industry.
After seventeen years into my teaching career, I resigned. I still loved teaching, but this new line of work caught me. When I went to the company’s national convention, I was astounded by the number of excited and motivated people I saw. I began to dream of making a difference for thousands of people. Doing it in one classroom with one group of students every year now seemed too small and insignificant. I hungered to do something more significant in the world.
I jumped into the financial services industry and failed. I never made millions, but I learned much about how people work and how money works. I also did many things outside my comfort zone, leading me on a rollercoaster ride and an adventure of a lifetime. I gained new skills and knowledge. I met hundreds and hundreds of people and worked with various people. My strengths and weaknesses became apparent; I improved on my weaknesses, and my strengths became even stronger. I was a quiet, shy girl who came to be assertive and daring. The me that was stuck inside came out, and it was freeing. I was a bird in a cage and didn’t break open the lock and fly out until I went into business.
After my stint in business, I returned to the classroom, but it was never the same. My mind had been stretched beyond its borders and could not shrink to where it was previously. A teaching career that was once exciting was now not that exciting.
I jetted off to another country to teach. It was something only exciting and new at first. Luckily, in the second year, I got into a management position that was wholly different and exciting. The variety of tasks and challenges kept me on my toes. I enjoyed the work for years until I realized I was spinning in circles. When I thought I was helping the company progress, I found many of my efforts dismissed. It was like taking three steps forward, only to find my efforts pulled back two steps. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. The job became meaningless. Disillusioned, I returned home to the USA.
I once thought having a career in one field for a long time was something to be proud of because it said that you loved what you did. That was my experience, but I didn’t realize that I had also closed the door to other possible opportunities or experiences. My first inkling was from the conversation I previously mentioned with a lady when I was in business part-time.
Since my perceptions, skills, and experiences expanded far and wide when I was in business, I realized that changing careers or jobs was not bad or wrong. It could be good because it can open the door to other kinds of work. You can learn new skills, expand your knowledge, meet new people, and enjoy new experiences. The saying goes, “when one door closes, another one opens.”
Unable to find a job in a different field, I found myself back in the profession of working with children. It was like being pulled backward again. I was not a happy camper. Now it was a job to pay the bills rather than a passion for making a difference. It’s sad, but I understand how it is difficult to get into a new area where you have no experience. However, knowing that I have acquired different experiences, knowledge, and skills, I could also use them to create something I enjoy.
Feeling unhappy with a job is not necessarily a bad thing. The door might seem closed, but it could be an open door. It could be an opportunity to think of ways to improve it, try a new job, or be an entrepreneur. Because of my frustration and anger, I looked for solutions. I began working on a dream I had so long ago. My dream was to be a professional speaker and writer one day. Though I had researched and read about it before, I had no connections or experience in those areas. I could not find a way to make my passions realized and abandoned them long ago.
Working at a meaningless job, I needed to find meaning and relief for my anger and pain. Unwilling to be helpless or a victim of circumstances, I cranked up my creative juices. Fortunately, with today’s technology, the internet, and many online information and choices, I found more than one way. Though I don’t have a traditional background, I have skills in writing and speaking. I self-published books online and broadcasted my voice online. Tickled with joy, I am now a published writer and podcaster! A closed door can always become an opened door!
Transit to Another World
Look at pictures or read about it; you can’t taste its flavor, detect its miniature yet unique features, or catch its local culture. You must be there to taste, see, feel, and have personal contact to know its essence.
I was led to a large tent with several short rows of fabric-covered chairs. The lights were dim, and the entertainment platform was just as packed and cozy. As I sat down, my guide informed me that I was about to enjoy a unique experience that a small number of people in the world could experience. Soon the performance began. Several robust middle-aged men sat down and started making sounds coming out of their throats. It sounded strange; I had never heard such sounds, nor did I think it sounded good. However, sitting in the small area, a warm feeling descended upon me, and I felt honored and privileged to hear something unique. I was in Mongolia listening to throat singing.
I hiked three hours from a high elevation to an even higher elevation to arrive at a monastery carved at the cliff’s edge of a mountain. To have this structure carved from the rocks of a mountain at its top edge could not have been an easy feat. Climbing to get there was no easy endeavor either. I was proud to say I completed the climb up to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
As magnificent as it was to see Tiger’s Nest, what stays in my memory is the climb up. My tour guide’s behavior taught me and gave me a sense of the meaning of Buddhism, nature, and happiness. As we trekked up the mountain, I was quickly out of breath. I thought it was because I was so out of shape, but it was also because I was at a high elevation. With little energy, I ambled and didn’t think I could make it all the way up to the monastery. I mentioned it to my tour guide. He didn’t respond; he didn’t say anything, but I knew he heard me because he was a few feet ahead and faced me. He quietly and patiently waited for me.
He was always nearby, watching out for me. He offered to carry my coat since I began sweating from the climb. I wished he had offered me a piggyback ride up, but he didn’t. His patience and silence made me feel accepted and unjudged. He didn’t hurry me along and hardly said a word unless I talked to him. I began not to feel bad about walking slowly. I started to enjoy the wonders of being with nature. I started feeling more relaxed and light. I was floating in happiness because I was not judged, and nothing was demanded of me. I felt accepted, peaceful, and free to soar as I wished. The feeling, the experience, was priceless.
I was excited to have arrived at this cemetery, as well as hundreds of other people. It was thousands of years old. It was unkept, with vine strings hanging all over the tombstones. The ground was covered with soil and weed, and towering trees were everywhere. The scene was gloomy, but you could feel the history. It was ancient, and it seemed things were left as they were many hundreds of years ago, and it allowed nature to do what it would without anyone trimming the trees or plants. I was honored to step foot on a vital piece of history that was over two thousand years old. I was at the cemetery of Confucius and his disciples in China.
It was 5 o’clock in the morning, and I had to get up with a group of people to trek over somewhere. I didn’t even know what we were going to do, but I followed in silence as everyone else was quiet too. We walked on nature’s soil through plants and trees in the dark. It was a bit scary, but many of us walked closely together. Soon we stopped at a location in front of a body of water. Across from the body of water was a long row of structures. I had never seen such architecture anywhere else in my life. Everyone stood there in silence. Our guide did not explain why we were there. I have long learned to observe and see what happens rather than question everything.
I soon learned why we were standing there. We were waiting for sunrise. It seemed like a long wait because it was gradual and slow; it was dim and, eventually, blinding. Standing there, we caught the best moment that was after the dimness and before the blindness. We witnessed an incredible sunrise behind Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
I had never seen so many crocodiles in my life. I was on a mega farm that raised them. Crammed in watery sections of fences dividing some were the crocodiles. Soon I was surrounded by everything made from crocodile skin, purses, belts, and wallets to shoes at a gift shop. Shortly after that, I was sitting in an outdoor stadium where the show was below. To my amazement, I saw a man performing incredible feats with a crocodile. Not only could I attest to seeing him hold open a crocodile’s mouth and lean his head in without being eaten, but I also noticed his smiles and enthusiasm. I was stunned at the range of things humans could do with one animal in Thailand.
Over twenty-three million people inhabit the space of over thirteen thousand square miles of this island. Still, there is room to breathe with its many mountains, valleys, rivers, fields, and farms outside the bustling city centers packed with stores, buildings, people, and transit systems. Sprinkled everywhere are temples for quiet moments to pray or think. Though the island nation has a wide variety of landforms to enjoy and things to do, what you will remember most is its people.
The people of Taiwan are friendly. Let me explain what makes them such a gem. If you find yourself lost, they will gladly give you directions without hesitation. They would even take you to your destination on foot or by scooter. Finding someone to talk to or keep you company wouldn’t be difficult because there are many willing conversationalists. Should you find yourself alone on this island, you would be happy to know that they gladly help strangers, and they may even befriend you with no ill will. Here you will feel safe and welcome. Since I have lived here for some years, I would still say it is true.
Having caught the travel bug, I have discovered the immeasurable value of a travel education. By being there, seeing it for yourself, and experiencing it for yourself, you learn so much that books, pictures, or even videos cannot give you. You can have adventures and experience things never experienced before on the journey. Most importantly, it enriches your life by broadening your perspectives and opening your world beyond your imagination. It brings forth the joy and wonders of living life!
Key Takeaways: Though I no longer enjoyed the career I once loved, it led me to discover a new passion.
Though I have read books and watched videos of places to go, nothing could match the value of being there in person to enjoy the wonders of a travel education.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Solo vs. Tour Group Travel and Giving Up with a Twist If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!