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The World Needs You to Follow Your Inspiration

“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown

As I left the San Francisco head office of the clothing company I worked for, I felt anxious and scared. I knew, in the depth of my heart and soul, that I did not belong there and that I needed to do something about it.

Up until a year before then, I had thought I did. But then I met this new friend who was a very spiritual person. He talked to me about things like universal mind, energy, a new era, and the importance of finding your dharma—your true vocation, which starts to be revealed once you start listening to, and following, your deepest inspiration.

It all touched a deep chord in me. Since that day I started following my thread of inspiration and searched and read everything I could find about the psyche, how we are affected by colors and shapes, and about symbols and esoteric teachings. I felt like I already knew all of it, and that I had finally found my way home.

My friends and colleagues didn’t understand the depth of the transformation I was going through. I felt misunderstood and very lonely.

But at the same time I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I felt connected to my true Self. I was truly inspired and felt like I had a special job to do in the world of clothes: I was to find new ways of designing and using clothes, built on feminine principles and a different set of values than those of our modern culture.

As the head designer for the Scandinavian branch of a multinational clothing company I earned quite a lot of money. I also led what many would consider a very glamorous lifestyle, with lots of traveling and meetings with interesting people.

But did it make me happy? Was there room for me to grow and develop in new ways?

No. Absolutely not. As a professional designer it was my job to focus on contemporary clothes, on what our costumers would want the next season. Looking further into the future was not an option.

Every day that went by made it more impossible to stay. I remember telling a friend that I felt like an eagle with my wings clipped at work.

I knew that leaving would be a point of no return that would ruin the career I had put so much energy into. But what else could I do?

My biggest problem was how to support myself. I understood that it would even be difficult for me to have freelance design jobs on the side, since my heart was no longer in it.

All that inspired me about designing clothes were the deeper aspects: Who was the person behind them? Could garments styles and fabric patterns play a role in the development of our consciousness? Was it possible to use design to stimulate the soul?

I had so many questions. But I was absolutely convinced that there was another way to work with clothes that truly honored the body and spirit of the person wearing them. I was determined to find it and just needed to trust what my heart told me.

Was I delusional? It was obvious that many others thought so…

Still, I finally took the step. One day I just knocked on my boss’ door and told him I had decided to quit. He looked almost shocked and asked me what my plans were. When I told him I didn’t really know yet, he bluntly told me that he didn’t believe me. He thought I hid something from him. ”What company bought you over?” he asked.

To him just leaving the whole fashion business at the top of my career was unimaginable.

To tell you that everything was sunshine and roses from that day onward would be a huge exaggeration. Actually, it was often quite the opposite.

When we challenge our personal patterns and step out of our comfort zone, we are often faced with our deepest fears.

I had to face many, and lived through some dark periods when I felt convinced I couldn’t find a new way to work with clothes. And yes, sometimes I questioned my choice.

Maybe I could have made a different one? Maybe I could have compromised a little? But in my heart I knew that it wouldn’t have worked. I’d needed a clean break in order to totally change my perspective.

Even if I missed the big check every month and the whole support system of a clothing company, I have never regretted my decision.

The years went by and I took one baby step at the time. As I reached one level of understanding, I expanded it through speaking and writing about it. I experimented with smaller clothing lines in colors and fabric patterns in the five elements—tools to help people find balance. One step led to another in ways I could not have foreseen.

That’s often what happens when we take a risk: things start to come together in ways we could never have predicted.

Looking back, I realize that the most important thing was that I really followed my heart. I was relentless. As soon as I felt like I had strayed from my vision, I made amends. When I didn’t, circumstances forced me to. Once, when I started selling a clothing line, all my sewing machines and computer were stolen, which made it impossible to continue down the wrong path. It was a blessing in disguise.

My farewell to fashion took place more than two decades ago, and my quest is still the most inspiring thing in my life. It kept (and keeps) evolving. Right now I feel very close to manifesting my alternative to fashion—clothes for body, soul, and spirit—in a bigger way.

If I had not taken that scary step, I would have missed out on so much. I feel proud of myself when I compare who I have become with the person I would have been if I had stayed.

Looking back, it’s surprising how everything took care of itself, even money. In periods, when I needed to just study, I was sometimes deeply indebted.

But there were also times when I made a lot of money so I could pay off my debts. I secured teaching jobs on the side when I needed to just experiment for a while. Had I known that things would work out just fine I wouldn’t have worried so much.

Worry and doubt were probably the most painful (and completely unnecessary) parts.

Life has a way of manifesting what we think about; so one great tool to deal with financial worries is to learn to focus on positive things. Another is to empty your mind and open up to solutions and new ways to earn.

So, if you find yourself in the wrong place, uncertain about whether or not you can find your way to the right one:

  • • Figure out what makes your heart sing and take one step on that path—today. Don’t make excuses to wait.
  • • Trust your gut feeling. It’s usually right.
  • • Focus on possibilities instead of the problems you might face.
  • • Believe in your dreams and visions. You have to believe in them to create them.
  • • Take inspired action!

And remember: You are unique. Your perspective of the world is equally unique, and it’s important you share it as only you can. The world needs you to follow your deepest inspiration.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

Avatar of Annika Thomas

About Annika Thomas

Annika Thomas calls herself a holistic designer and a soul stylist. Through her company, Metamorfos, she offers fabrics, clothes, individual sessions, books about the deeper aspects of colors and surface patterns, and interesting lectures. Her blog at wholethreads.com offers weekly inspiration.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Marsuti

    Wow!!! This article arrived just on time, as usual. :)
    God bless you!!!

  • Chandi

    So perfect. Thank you for sharing this. I’m going through this exact thing right now; quitting my job to focus on my passion of owning a yarn-dyeing company. Your story is a true inspiration. Thank you.

  • http://www.smiffbib.com/2012/04/17/its-kinda-like-a-holiday-its-bloggess-day/ Kerry :)

    I may find my inspiration in different places…. but inspired i am :)

  • Liz

    Just came across this while taking a moment for myself in a hallway in the math building at my school, with some Beatles in my ears and breakfast in hand.

    I needed this more than you could know.

    Thank you.

  • Antparty

    This is where I am with my life right now. I’ve been an advertising copywriter for over 20 years and I just can’t do it now. (The recession cut my salary in half, so that sure helped me along that path) Anyhow, a recent failed relationship and trying to create a new life has led me to seek inspiration everywhere! Tiny Buddha has been a big source for it too!

  • Thank you

    Thank you so much for sharing! I am going through something similar and I’m so happy to know that I’m not alone! 

  • unionmaid

    Annika — thank you! How lovely to read from another soul traveling the same byways. Funny, when you said you had felt misunderstood & lonely yet never happier after discovering your heart/soul needed expression, I nodded my head — yep, that’s me. And thank you for the words about worry. A cinematic expression I like is when Indiana Jones must cross a deep ravine between 2 mountains. The only way is to put one foot forward in what seems like a suicidal move. Yet when he does a bridge appears. I’m scared to be making as many changes as I am, especially later in life than most, but oh the amazing things that have happened every time I put one foot forward! Let’s name this a new Era of the True Self, and for all of us on the journey, namaste — the spirit in me respects the spirit in all of you:-)

  • http://thepennyfriends.com Virginia O’Connor

    As almost all the other comments ~ your story holds true for me. I, too, find myself at the age of 64 desperately trying to figure out my purpose here. The relationship I am in is not a good one. Fear keeps me here as I have no income. I think, read, worry, try to find what I should be doing. Nothing comes to me. Sometimes I just want to run away but my thoughts of fear and confusion will just follow me.  I congratulate you on the courage of your convictions. 

  • Artificial_sweetener

    I’ve been searching online for stories about people who have left the fashion industry, and I finally came across yours. Thank you for sharing. 

    I’ve been in the fashion business for 4 years after graduating from university, working in various roles in marketing, wholesale, and retail. Like you, I found it difficult to focus only on what “costumers would want the next season”

    You often hear the stories about people who ditched their high profile careers to work in fashion. From my perspective, it’s great to know that other people are finding meaning outside this industry. 

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    “My friends and colleagues didn’t understand the depth of the transformation I was going through. I felt misunderstood and very lonely.”

    That sentence struck a chord with me because I experienced the same thing just over a year ago (actually, not much has changed at this point either… friends, family & co-workers still don’t “get it” or me!).  It is so difficult to be alone on that journey, especially because as the transformation was happening, it was so exciting that I desperately wanted to be able to talk about it with someone who understood. 

    It’s hard to have the strength to carve out your own path in the world but there comes a point where we don’t have a choice and it becomes as important as life or death to do it.  Good for you for following your heart – so inspiring!  Thank you for sharing your story here!

    Best wishes!

  • shirly

    Dear Annika, thank you so much for your post. I had a almost similar experience and I am into my 4th year of teaching yoga after spending a decade in marketing. There has been a lot of fluctuations going through my mind and physical body now, creating a lot of ‘turbulence’. Your article came so timely and inspires me to move on with courage and believe in myself. The path hasn’t been an easy one but I have alot to be thankful for. Thank you once again for sharing! Blessings to you!

  • http://droppingtheact.blogspot.in/ Taryn

    Such an inspiration – this post. At this moment I am in conflict with myself about whether to leave my current job. I’ve been there almost 4 years and simply uninspired in this career, I have attempted to think positively and find my passion in it all but it doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I need to take that step you spoke of and find the thing that makes my heart sing. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Nelsi

    Thank you for this inspiring post! Looking forward to check your blog & website :)

  • Vrinda

    Very inspiring!  You’re very courageous! 
    I’m going through something similar and it feels good to know that i’m not alone and there are others who are following their heart as well God Bless You!
    Best Wishes

  • Annika

     Always nice to “talk” to fellow travelers! I love the Indianan Jones image!
    Namaste, and safe journey!

  • Annika

     It is often interesting to see, as we look back, that things that looked like negative incidents were really showing us that we needed to to travel a new path. Keep seeking inspiration and go for it!

  • Annika

     Thank you! I really think we are many, traveling similar paths. All the best on your journey!

  • Annika

     So glad you liked it! :)

  • Annika

    I’m sure you will find your own threads of inspiration. Good luck!

  • Annika

     I am so glad you liked it! Namaste!

  • Annika

     Yes, it really is difficult to be alone on the journey. What I found was that new kinds of friends gravitated towards me, who were very different from those I had had before.
    Your are so right that there comes a point when it becomes as important as life or death. That is exactly my feeling.
    All the best to you!

  • Annika

     I am convinced that costumers will want something more sustainable and that the fashion industry will need to change in a big way. Like a clothing paradigm shift.
    Thanks for reading this post!

  • Annika

     Hi Virginia! I think the clue is always to search for what makes us happy. If you start from trying to find your purpose and what you “should” be doing, it might feel too big. I am sure there is something you simply enjoy doing that can be expanded as you focus on it!
    Good luck!

  • Annika

     Thank you for reading!

  • Annika

     I am so glad!

  • Annika

     That’s great! :)

  • Annika

     Oh, that’s so great! Good luck with your new business!

  • Annika

     I’m so glad it did! God bless!

  • yier

    Hi Annika, thank you for the sharings, it has been most inspirational! In the last few years i have always thought something is just not right and i begin to embark on my spiritual journey to my find my true self. I’m still sailing along the ocean heedlessly, however, i’m hopeful for that lease of light at the end of the tunnel one fine day, there’s something waiting to be done. Care to share more of the clothing for mind, body and soul wellbeings, pm me, it sounds intesting..:) with light and metta…

  • Yogagirl

    Thank you for sharing that trusting and making that BIG move is all worth it.  That the joy, peace and harmony is the best part of the journey, not the destination.  Thank you for being YOU!

  • http://nochnoch.com/ Noch Noch | be me. be natural.

    thank you for reminding me of this. keep going with my inspiration and dreams of writing 
    Noch Noch :)

  • Cstoehr

    I have to tell you how wonderful it is that you followed your true path.  It is such a courageous event!  I also must add that this post came at a time when I have been searching for clothing for myself that expresses the me that I have come to find through listening to my body and my voice. I have been struggling recently with finding clothes that are me. I am done wearing the restrictive norm that I have been forcing my body into for so many years. I believe this evolution in clothing choice has come as a direct result of listening to my inner self. I search now for the clothing that speaks to my soul. I look forward to the discovery of your clothing. 

  • Domjell

    Really enjoyed your post. Is your book, Dressed in TRUE COLORS, applicable for men? 

  • Annika

     Dressed in TRUE COLORS is written with for women, but can just as well be applied to a man.
    Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Annika

     Oh, that’s so great! Leaving clothes that are restrict us behind and listening to our inner Self for guidance is really the key…

  • Annika

     Great, and good luck!

  • Annika

     Namaste! And you…

  • Miss Lei

    Mahalo Annika for this post.  It came to me at the most perfect time – a blessing indeed. 

  • Shannon

    Beautiful line: “Every day that went by made it more impossible to stay. I remember telling a friend that I felt like an eagle with my wings clipped at work.”
     I relate and went through that too. wonderful story. thank you. Xo shannon @ http://www.playwiththeworld.com

  • Annika

     Thank you Shannon. I hope you found what makes your heart sing!

  • Annika

     Great and blessings!

  • Nashland

    Such a beautiful article! Thank you for sharing.

  • Susan

    Thank you for sharing your story.  It takes courage to change!  Very inspiring!

  • Hitman316

    Great article! I’m wondering if you telepathically read my own mind J

    I’ve been gradually going through this spiritual transformation process for over a year. Like you said, you feel lonely and misunderstood while going through this transformation. But then you visit this website and you realize that you’re not the only one at all!

    Little by little, I’m walking out on my previous career and starting to follow my heart. However, it’s not an easy road as a lot of close relatives who supposedly ‘know what’s best for me’ can be very critical at times because they think that I shouldn’t take any such risks in life. While others are becoming critical, I quote you: “I am happier than I have been in a very long time. I feel connected to my true Self.”

    It’s crazy how much guilt people will make you feel for being true to yourself and believing in your dreams.

    When you say that when we take a risk: things start to come together in ways we could never have predicted – you remind me of Paulo Coelho who says that “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

    Thanks for showing me and all the readers that we are not alone in taking this courageous step.

  • Annika

     I’m really glad I could inspire you! And of course something is waiting for you. If you want to read more about clothing for body, soul and spirit, I have a blog at http://www.wholethreads.com
    All the best to you!

  • Annika

     Thank you for reading!

  • Annika

    No, you are not alone in this and that’s such a liberating discovery. Finding friends who go through similar things always help.

    Your relatives probably mean well, but what they express is only their own fear. Most people don’t want to take risks like us. What it comes down to is that they don’t dare trust their hearts. So if you are criticized and people try to make you feel guilty, don’t take it in. It doesn’t belong to you.

    Good luck on your journey!

  • Claudia

    I too quit a decent paying
    job about nine months ago to take another rout in my professional career. I thought about it for years. It is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The first
    best decision I made was leaving my home country and migrating to the U.S.
    Change is not easy. But when you make changes based on a gut feeling you have
    nothing to regret. Making decisions based on gut feeling does not mean making
    decisions impulsively and without thinking. It means that once you have considered
    all options and consequences, you know you it feels right and you have nothing to lose. What is worst than feeling stuck at a job or relationship and not moving forward? I have failed on some of my plans,
    but even failure teaches you  valuable lessons. It makes you stronger and a better person. It is crucial to stay positive.

  • Rahul

    My question here is i am working for a company but i am not satisfied with the work and the salary. My dream is to make blogging as a profession. But the fear is what people will say and my parents because if i quit my job my income will be stopped.. But i want to follow my dreams..Please do reply.