“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Have you ever had an irrational feeling or urge to go out and explore something unknown to you?
Whether it was living in a different country, traveling the world, diving into a new career, or some sort of mission you felt called to lead?
This is what Joseph Campbell calls the Call to Adventure, which is the first phase of the Hero’s Journey.
For me, I really got in sync with this call to adventure when I was just starting my second year of University.
I really didn’t enjoy the previous year so I set an intention to have the best college experience in the world…in fact, the best college experience anyone in humanity has ever experienced!
Yes, I set the bar high to open myself up for amazing, mind-blowing experiences.
Immediately after setting this intention, the onset for nine months of intense, vivid lucid dreams hit. I’d wake up in the middle of the night almost every night, feeling like I was in a different country—speaking a different language, exploring new lands, becoming a new me. This marked the beginning of the call to adventure.
I personally didn’t enjoy the traditional academic system. I’d fallen asleep in classes since the first grade because I was so bored and wasn’t stimulated with enough interaction…let alone energy. This pattern still carried throughout my time in college and it only grew more painful.
After about a month of these experiences and feeling like I was living a more amazing life in my dreams than in my waking reality, I knew something had to change. I told family and friends about traveling the world on this journey with no set plans, just a pure open intention for hyper accelerating my personal evolution. They thought I was crazy and kept telling me to get my degree first. The only person who supported me initially was my cousin Sahar.
Sahar had been living in Argentina at the time, and at this point it’d been about nine months since she quit the corporate world to accept her own call to adventure. She invited me to come explore South America with her and I quickly took her up on the offer. I knew I had to trust my gut and see another possibility for my life.
So come December and time for winter break, I flew out to Argentina. Wow! What an incredible time. I felt like I was getting a high dose of adventure. I was practically using the Spanish I’d learned and naturally being shaped by the cultures I was exposed to. I had all the time to focus on learning about what I wanted, and thus brought several books that I would devour on our 18-26 hour bus rides.
I would tell Sahar about my dreams and she’d be in awe with the amount of passion and energy I had. She’d tell me, “Just do it! You gotta do it! This is your call!” And I’d get so amped and say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
And I was so pumped, so ready to cut the ties that kept me unfulfilled and explore the world to gain my real-world education—until I got on the plane to return home to the old life. And I started hearing the doubts and words of rejection from my family, friends and peers, and I bought into it. And this marked a stage in the hero’s journey that Campbell calls “The Refusal Of The Call.”
And immediately as I landed, I got very sick. I got a gnarly stomach virus that kept me out of class for the next week and a half. The doctors gave me antibiotics which would make me black out and forget parts of the day, which made me basically miss another week of classes.
After my body started to heal from the virus, I was bombarded with strep throat which kept me out of class for another two weeks. The interesting thing about the strep throat was the doctor told me it’s unlike any other strep throat, and that this type could progress and affect my heart. My heart? Why my heart? I’m not listening to my heart… All of a sudden things clicked and I realized my symptoms were a blessing in disguise, guiding me to stay true to my dreams (literally).
At the four-and-a-half week mark in a 10 week quarter system with the most difficult and packed classes of my school year, I realized there was no way I was going to make it through passing. I went to the doctor and asked him what I could do since I missed so much class and was still sick. He recommended I take a medical leave of absence for the rest of the quarter. My eyes flickered with hope. My heart felt excited. And I filled out the paper work and turned it in.
I kid you not…within 5-10 minutes of turning in the paper work, all of my symptoms started to disappear! Wow, talk about symptoms and pain being their to guide you to live your passion and purpose.
And I took it a step further. I went to fill out a leave of absence…this time for a year. And then I got a one-way ticket and went out to the world, gaining new mentors along the way, reading many books, meeting people from all walks of life, getting involved in diverse communities all focused on growth and contribution, and I let my soul guide me in what has been the most irrational journey ever—except that it just makes sense. It’s been a phenomenal ride. And I’m still going and growing.
Now this is just my story of how I accepted my call to adventure. You have your own, and I want to hear about it in the comments below. And if you haven’t taken the leap of faith to live your dreams, I encourage you to let now be the time.
Adam Siddiq is the Host of The Soulfully Optimized Life podcast,and a Peak Performance Coach and Leader, specifically working with Millennials and StartUps to create epic changes in the world.