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Soul Searching – Are You Looking For Your Destiny In The Right Places?

(My Journey From Being A Lawyer To A Tour Leader)

By Richa Shandilya

Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.

– Rumi

In 2017, I quit my job as a lawyer and decided to be a Tour Leader, much to the surprise of my friends and family. Most of them thought that just because I got bored with my monotonous life, I was trying to be different. What wasn’t clear to them then, and even perhaps me, was – what exactly made me switch between careers, especially those which are very different from each other – from law to travel. 

So, here I am, sharing my views on what made me switch my profession. This piece is motivated by the inner peace I am finding in doing this job, in the hope that it may resonate with some of you and propel you on your own path of inner peace.

I struggled for 28 years to find my inner calling, something that would fulfill my soul. At last, with some luck, I found it. It is travelling! Travelling has excited me as long as I remember. Travelling is a generic term and it involves many things. Every person has a different purpose behind pursuing travelling. For me, travelling is all about the thrill of journeys, meeting new people, understanding their perspective and exploring the world which is outside the box of my routine thinking process.  

Growing up in India, I felt the societal pressure to act in a manner where I do not break the norm of the society and try to ‘fit in’. I tried to convince myself that, travelling is the new trending activity which may be difficult to reach for everyone, and it was this initial perception of ‘being difficult’ that got me excited. 

I do think my childhood had a lot to do with what I am right now and my fascination with travelling. My father had a transferable job, and because of it I got the taste of travelling. Visiting places, which were very different from one another, gave me an exposure to different people, cultures, habits and landscapes. However the challenges that came with making new friends each time we changed the city came with mixed feelings. 

My first experience of travelling in childhood was when we had to shift to a small town in Uttar Pradesh from my home town – Patna. I was very excited because before that I had never travelled anywhere else outside Patna. As a child, the whole prospect of relocating to a new life, excited me beyond bounds. 

I was only 10 years old at the time and the whole excitement of travelling in train and going to a place where I knew nothing, never scared me. So it started, the thirst of travelling in me, and with each journey the thirst only increased and became more and more addictive with time. I changed 9 schools and travelled to 10 different states in India till I was 18 years old. I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to travel more but I was in a stage where I had to choose my career and I still don’t’ know why – I chose Law. I don’t regret my decision to pursue law, because studying law has strengthened my confidence. However, the entire time that I was studying law and considering my career options, I always had a nagging feeling that I want to travel, undertake more journeys, and have stories to tell.  But I had no money to do that. I finished my degree and started working as a lawyer. Money started coming in but left me with no time to travel.  

So, the whole vicious cycle of trying to attain work-life balance, made me vulnerable and led to frustration. Everyday, going to work became a task, and justifying for myself the reason I was pursuing law, became increasingly difficult. But, you also need money to sustain your life and that’s how I landed being a Tour Leader for a world renowned tour company in India.

My journey of being a tour guide from a lawyer has been very interesting so far. I got to know, so many things about myself, which I would not have understood otherwise. This is because that’s what my soul was seeking, i.e. to continue my childhood fascination of taking different journeys, interacting with different personalities to understand the broader perspective of life.

In this series, from now on, I will be sharing with all of you my different experiences of my travels and share some stories along with some tips and techniques helping you undertake your own journeys. Perhaps travelling as a career us not what a lot of parents want for their kids unlike their dreams for their children to become a judge, or a top notch lawyer or crack UPSC. But it may open windows in the lives of many Indian women like me, who if given half a chance, would love to travel and make a career out of it.  

I am not quite a writer but, my purpose of starting series is to inspire Indian women out there, who have not been able to explore their desires, because of various reasons and urge them to rethink, about their lives and motivate them to pursue their destinies. Don’t be caught in a dilemma of thinking that you are being selfish, if you pursue your dreams. We women, can bring a bigger change in society, but it can only be done, when we explore our-self, move out of our comfort zone, see what’s out there and then choose – who we want to be. As we change the world, we change ourselves.

(Richa Shandilya is a tour leader who has also assisted government tours organized by Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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