My Escape story — it really has only begun.

Bhavik Shah
6 min readJul 16, 2018
Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash

It was March of this year, (2018 for all those from the future reading this) and had yet another despairing conversation with my manager about the chances of being promoted at my current finance job. I don’t know what it was that day, that kind of pushed me even further into the realm of sadness, but I slowly realized that pushing for a promotion in a industry I hate could not be a reality any longer. I left that conversation very dis-engaged and disappointed in myself because I let it get this far. I was the one who entered finance a decade ago, even though I was persuaded by my traditional South Asian family, it was still my choice. I was responsible for selecting a career that really gave me no joy. I fully held myself accountable for all the endless corporate BS I silently accepted, without making the move to do something different. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I challenged. I spoke my mind when necessary. However, maybe my efforts were misplaced. Either way, all of these negative thoughts were overpowering my stream of consciousness that day. I spoke to another co-worker about our careers in general, as she was packing up her desk to roll of this project. A project that I can not name, but let’s just say after this political decision was final, half of the UK population googled “What is the EU?” For those who follow any sort of political news within the world, I’m sure you will be quick enough to catch on. For those who don’t, well….this moment is awkward. I digress! After a very deep conversation with this co-worker about careers in finance, she suggested “Escape the City”, a school for established professionals desiring for a career change. This was the second time in one week someone mentioned “Escape” to me. The first one was my therapist. (yes I had a therapist — but another blog for another time) After two individuals who I trusted recommended this school to me, I didn’t waste any time and looked at the available courses. It almost happened within days where I debated, but I ultimately signed up to take the Career Accelerator program. I knew I had to make a change and this was the first step. I wanted to challenge myself so I didn’t have to feel this crappy about my job and life decisions in my career anymore. I wanted to feel I was needed, by a team who made some sort of impact within the world. Not just working on projects for end clients that you will never meet, in a world that only promotes Capitalism, and fools you to believe you are happy.

Next thing you know, it was kick off weekend and I walked to the building where the classes were held. My damn, I was lucky how I am only 5 minutes away from this building. “These other people are going to hate me, when they realize I live across the road”, I thought to myself. “Play it cool Bhav, don’t mention it”. Almost immediately, I spoke to a few people around the table and broke the ice as I was stuffing my face with an egg white, avocado black bean wrap. This was my breakfast of choice over the next 10 weeks. After that, I met the instructors Skye and Matt — 2 Americans in London who had their stories to share. Their stories hit home hard, so close where I took a few deep breaths. They were honest. They were real. They did not hold back. In that moment, I knew I made the right choice. Fast forwarding to moments of me begging for 5 pounds in London Bridge, to conducting a self audit on myself to learn my values (Happiness, Faith, Thankfulness), to finding a side project with Amnesty International all became wonderful moments of the process. I even tested out to see if I can be the next Skye and Matt, however their charisma is far more charming so who am I really kidding? (Seriously, just find them on social media, you will love them) Shifting my mindset, and realizing that confidence is a choice has become such powerful pillars in my life now, and I have Skye and Matt to thank for. Yes, I accept I did put the hard work in, and I’m not discrediting myself, because I do realize that is important. But the steering, direction, support, empathy, and dare I say it, love, was all from these two. They can easily treat us as just another class, another set of career professionals who are making a change, but they didn’t. That’s just not part of their model. They allowed us to be genuine, and never once discredited our feelings, our thought process, our experiences. They never said what every other boss I’ve had in the past has said: “It’s just the nature of the game”. The nature of the game for them was for us to realize our potential. Our success was their success. I learned that being a true driver of change, you MUST be vulnerable. Both Skye and Matt let us in their lives (not like their day to day bathroom schedules) but the real stuff so we can learn and connect. So if you have made it this far reading, Skye and Matt — I thank you. People must say this to you all the time, however I know receiving gratitude feels amazing. And I hope you guys feel amazing, just like a fat kid eating a snickers bar with vanilla ice cream topped with melted chocolate syrup. THAT AMAZING! (This may or may not have been my diet as a child growing up) But in all seriousness, I will not forget what I learned from Escape, and it’s because of you two that I can explore so many new opportunities. I hope you both will be part of my future journey, because I will want you to be part of it. (Please don’t make me stalk you, it will get very weird, very fast)

Before I actually complete my first ever Medium blog (Yay!) I have to also thank my tribe, all 19 of them. With a big group like this, you run the risk of just connecting with a few people, and everyone is okay with that. However, you guys know more about me than most of my family and friends. And you still let me be myself, all the time — without any questions,without any judgment. Sure, that is how all humans on this planet should treat one another, but sadly the unfortunate reality is that people do not. They lack that sense of empathy, and create a world filled with judgement that overshadows all human decency. You 19, did not do that! I’ve been inspired by each and every one of you, and knowing that I have your support actually is foundational as I embark this new journey. So to all of you guys, THANK YOU for everything. Thank you for laughing at all my jokes in class and out. Thank you for listening to my Open Mic that allowed me for the first time to shine publicly. Thank you for supporting me and holding me accountable for my projects. Thank you for selecting me as the one with the most Tribe love as it made me feel like I finally got selected for gym class first! (That can’t really be a surprise) Thank you for being YOU!

I wanted to say all of this this past Saturday as we all celebrated our achievements together, but all I can muster out of my lips was “UM THANKS!” Some call that literal gold, but this blog may be more of a true reflection of what I feel. I’m thankful that you all kept reading, as clearly I had a lot to say. (And if you didn’t, well that’s just messed up man — I am publicly thanking you guys to the WORLD!) It’s okay, there will be a pop quiz tomorrow and we will know who read it or not.

So real talk — how does one post this thing?

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Bhavik Shah

Award winning Mental Health & DEI Workplace Advocate. Exploring new curiosities, while challenging social convention. Contact me at www.bhavikrshah.com