Have you ever dreamed about quitting your job, packing up and travelling the world to follow your passion and share it with others? Probably, it’s the kind of thing that travellers think about on a daily basis.
That’s exactly what happened when New Yorker, Natalie Tongrungs, made the huge decision to leave her ten-year advertising career in the big city and learn the arts of yoga and Thai Massage. She had been working in NYC since the age of 22, and like many of us, took it for the gospel that her priority after university should be finding a good job, getting stuck into a proper career and sticking with it until success arrived. In order to keep her apartment and her New York life afloat, Natalie worked long and hard and was extremely good at what she did. However, something wasn’t quite right. Rather than feeling pride and contentment in the things she was achieving, Natalie felt trapped.
Was this what she was going to be doing for the rest of her life? Was this all she was good at? Would she be staring at a computer screen and sitting behind her desk for the next twenty or even forty years? That wasn’t the kind of life she envisaged for herself when she pictured the years laid out ahead of her. She wanted to pursue an existence of exploration; of working on her inner peace and sharing something of it with the world. She wanted to travel! But the prospect of packing it all in was pretty overwhelming.
“I had this idea that in order to travel I needed to have loads of money and a job to come back to.”
Finally, she decided that if she didn’t do it soon she never would. She quit her job, moved out of her apartment and sold all of her furniture to pay for flights. Her flights took her to Costa Rica, where she enrolled in a training programme for yoga teachers. She graduated (with honours) and spent some time teaching there and in Nicaragua before making yet another jump to the other side of the world. Now in her parent’s native country of Thailand, Natalie enrolled in an intensive school of Thai Massage to add yet another skill and passion to a newfound bag of talents.
I met Natalie on the Thai Island of Koh Change where she is now based. She teaches two Vinyasa yoga classes a day, practises Thai massage and lives in a simple but beautiful bungalow that looks right out onto the ocean. The rest of her time is spent reading, meditating and spending time with her new island family. The person I met was free, open and full of joy. She seemed so sure of her new vocation and her place as a citizen of the wider world; I wonder if I would recognise her as the same person had I met her when she was trapped behind her desk in New York, chugging coffee to be able to get one more piece of work done?
Her decision to follow her passions, to listen to what her heart was telling her and strike out in search of the life she knew she needed was a brave one, and one we could all do to think about. If you’re sitting behind a desk right now, reading this and feeling a little empty at the thought of never doing the things you imagined – trust yourself and make that move. Nobody is going to do it for you!
Follow Natalie’s journey and find out how to work with her at www.yogawithom.com