All my life, I have been a gear in the machine. I was the star student in high school, studied at one of the most prestigious universities in the US and worked the job everyone had eyes on Wall street. My life was all planned out, until one day I herniated my disk from sitting sixteen hours in a row in front of the computer screen, drinking five cups coffee a day. Laying in a hospital bed for two weeks was the eye opener I needed, giving me the time to question my path, and making the decision to change my life.
I was uninspired, replaceable and unhappy. So, I quit my job. Only after then I realized how much my identity was built around my corporate career. Quitting my job felt like quitting my identity, my lifestyle. It felt like wasting my past accomplishments, disappointing the people who have supported me. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to not go back to the known after quitting. It’s always desirable for people to go back to their comfort zone, especially if the next step is to be an outsider on a unknown path.
Moving back home also didn’t help. Meeting new people didn’t help. “What do you do for a living?” Is the first question people usually ask when they want to get to know you. And rightfully so because in an ideal world what you do should in fact be who you are. So I decided to be nothing for a while. It was ego crushing. I realized my desire to prove myself to others was my main motivator for doing things in life, none of which brought me happiness. I had become the person I thought other people would aspire to be. It had nothing to do with who I really was. So I decided to be a nobody.
Being a nobody was refreshing. When someone asked what I did, saying “nothing” felt great. I didn’t have to do anything, which meant I only did things I wanted to do. I had all this money saved from banking that I never had the time to spend, and since I had nothing to do, I decided to travel just because I wanted to and I could. I bought an around the world ticket. I travelled from my hometown Istanbul to Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia … As I kept travelling, I observed the human race differ little by little in each country I visited. I read Darwin’s theory of evolution again and again, experiencing it first hand as I travelled. I started reading about the ancient civilizations and the mysteries of Earth. I kept a visual journal, looking at the World through my camera lens. I wrote about each new location, each new experience and I rediscovered my passion for writing.
After I got back from my journey, I made a long list of everything that I loved; writing, nature, photography, painting, music, magic...I was committed to evolve my life to do the things that I loved. So, I started taking photography courses, painting, playing music, spending time in nature and I started writing little stories full of magic. I didn’t have an end goal. I just wanted to let myself enjoy everything I was doing in that moment. The only issue was that neither the writing, the painting, nor the photography was satisfying enough in itself. I wanted a medium to combine all that I liked. So I did what any fellow millennial would have done, I asked Google. I typed in storytelling, photography, painting, music …and Google whispered, New York Film Academy.
My decision was instant. I signed up for a one year filmmaking course, packed up my bags and left. I was back in New York City again. Worst case I could quit, which wasn’t all that scary anymore to begin with. But because I was a nobody, it was surprisingly easy to build myself again from the ground up. This time it was different, I was aware of my calling. I learned about the camera, script-writing and editing. Now I was equipped with the right tools, on a path that came from within.