A Journey of Exponential Growth

Where do I begin.

I think it was 16 when I first really started thinking for myself. It was then when the journey really begins. Before that, like most of us, we were just kids. Children in the playground, following the way of the world not really asking ourselves the questions that had to be asked at that age.

It was at age 16 when I remember clearly asking myself something that would ring true for the rest of my life. To give some background, that age was an incredibly turbulent and tumultuous time for me. Like all young adults, puberty was a time of so much confusion, sometimes so much pain and heartache in which many carry over their shoulders for the most of the best part of their lives. Mine was no different. But the questions I asked and the things I told myself may have been, because without it, I would not be the person I am today.

I remember having the ability to think to myself quite often, to talk inwards if you might say. It might have been then when I truly found that inner voice that still speaks to me today. I held onto that inner voice like a child with his teddy bear, it was my best friend, my consular, my hope because outside of that, the outside world seemed so very cruel and rough and hard to understand.

And so I remember asking myself these questions I had no answer to. “Jason, who are you amongst the crowd? Do you even know who you are? Are you pretending to be someone you are not to fit in? Why does every day feel the same? Why does life feel so small and tight and close?”

With all of these questions I did not know, I had only one that I did, and this one somehow felt like that it was all that mattered; “Jason, are you doing the best that you can right now with everything happening in your life?”.

My answer to that was always yes. Everything else followed after.

It took me about three years to really grow out of those teenage years, and rightly so between the ages of 18-20 when I really started to enjoy life. University was such a bright light in my life. I remember my first day, I was on my own walking around campus and there was a little animal farm the university had brought in for the new students to enjoy. There’s a picture of me somewhere holding a snake that day and I absolutely loved it. What I loved most wasn’t the fact that I enjoyed animals (although I do) or I was feeling strong, it was the simple fact that I had made the choice to do it.

Before this moment, there was a sense that everything in life had been chosen for me and all I did was follow blindly. It was with this moment of choice that changed my life. I remember that day to clearly. I remember feeling a sense of release, a burden off my shoulders and for once in my life I felt like I could breath. This moment was and still is the most calm, relaxed and peaceful time of my life. Time was slow back then, I could feel it. Each day after class I’d spend doing things on my own, I’d go for a long walk to anywhere, have a picnic on my own in the grass, I’d go for a drive somewhere.

One of my favourite memories of this was being woken up by one students with what looked like a movie set of equipment, having taken a nap on the university greens. I was so taken aback by this when they asked if I could answer some questions for an interview about student life at the University. At that age, being on camera meant you were famous, and for that week in my mind at least I was!

So it was the power of choice that took me to new heights. Choice that made me realise that life is what you make of it.

When I was at the youthful age of 24, I felt that time was against me. The older I get, the more I realise that it was farther from the truth! But nonetheless, it’s human intuition to fear time and it’s escape. It was at that age in which I had just come out of a long relationship where I knew I needed to return to my roots. In the years before it, I had the power of living in the moment and that of choice. In the years after, I would have so much more.

It is only when you reach your lowest point, that you are open to the greatest of change.

That ring so true at this time in my life. For the first time in my life I’d felt real heartbreak which lasted for months on end. Within a time frame of 6 months, I had lost so much of what I had built the years before. I quit my part time job, put a pause on what I really enjoyed, volunteering as a firefighter, my studies and grades at the University were at it’s worst, I was avoiding friends and family, my motivation and drive was faltering in every single thing I did. It was crazy, havoc in my life.

I realised then that when things go wrong, you can tumble down the rabbit hole very very quickly.

I think it rings so true in life and for so many people out there. Their pain and suffering is real and when it is felt, it is felt all around, surrounding you in a coat of pain and tears.

So at the lowest point in my life, I turned inwards once again. I returned to that 16 year old inner voice which over time, I had slowly lost and I missed him so dearly. What was incredible about this voice was that even through all these years, it had not changed.

I was still in there somewhere, providing me strength, giving me hope.

And like before he asked me those very same questions. “Jason, who are you amongst the crowd? Do you even know who you are? Are you pretending to be someone you are not to fit in? Why does every day feel the same? Why does life feel so small and tight and close?”

But of course, the answers to those were still hard to find. All but one, “Jason, are you doing the best that you can right now with everything happening in your life?”

And my answer to that was no. Everything else followed after.

It took me about a week after answering this question of mine to having absolutely changed the course of my life. I began to LIVE, like really live. I set myself some life rules based on things I knew would answer the really important questions.

When I asked myself who I was amongst the crowd, I set out to define that by spending more time doing the things I loved. When I asked myself if I was pretending in any way, I set out to always be true to my beliefs and heart. When I asked myself why life felt so small and tight and close, I set out to redefine the boundaries that my life contained.

In a timeframe of about 6 months, I had joined over a dozen University societies, I had met hundreds of new friends that I still call close now, I networked like a maniac and because of it, I was successful in finding a job I enjoyed, I studied in Beijing, experienced North Korea and found my absolute LOVE to travel and explore.

I still did not have all the answers, but I was finally on a journey through life that felt real, that felt worthwhile, that felt like it had meaning.

At the age of 26, I took a massive leap of faith to move abroad to London indefinitely even against all logic at the time. Flying away from everything I have ever loved, the family home and the building of a new home, my investment home and mortgage and responsibilities that came with it, my job and having to take a 25% pay cut and most of all, my family and friends, missing out on the big moments in life with them. This leap was for me, for that inner self to grow and expand what I knew about life and more importantly to learn about the things I did not and could not possible know without taking on the endeavour.

And so here I am, at the age of 28 writing this piece so grateful of the journeys past and so excited about what the future holds. That inner self, the voice inside of me? It’s no longer just a voice, it’s become who I am, it’s defined me and I never would of found him without the going through it all. I wear him on my sleeve, I trust his guidance and truly believe that together, we will do great things.

Thanks for reading and remembering,

Love, Jason

P.s there’s an incredible difference between why there was a yes to the question when I was 16 and a no when I was 24. It’s hard to know exactly what that is but it has to do with freedom. Largely an external societal influence that makes you feel like you either have to do something because it just is what it is or you have the choice to do something because you have the ability to see further into your future, into the possibilities that could be.

Author: Jason Li

Jason Li grew up in the big bad city of Sydney. After all these years, he’s still growing up; or at least trying to. Sometimes he writes. Sometimes he gets lucky and writes something good. Most of the time, however, he has no idea where life is taking him, living life just one single day at a time.

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