Hearing the term, work-life balance, has always made me cringe because honestly, it’s not my strong suit.

I always think about work, whether or not I’m taking the right direction in life, and this often leaves me feeling like I’m not doing enough, which makes me want to keep working. If I had to describe this feeling more accurately, it’s like an itch I can never scratch.

It was only until my Malaysia trip came near when I saw an opportunity to break my habit of working obsessively: I’d go offline. For 5 days.

No writing. No emails. No social media. Nada.

Instead, I’d explore the city and take my time to go shopping, eat at my favorite restaurants and occasionally get a massage.

As expected, my trip helped me de-stress. But I found myself having lots of extra time on my hands, which made me a bit uncomfortable. Because if I wasn’t supposed to work, what else was I supposed to do?

That’s when my eyes started scanning the room, not knowing exactly what to look for.

Ah, my camera! I haven’t played around with this for awhile. Why don’t I take a few shots?

A cute flower pot in my Airbnb home | Watching the sunset in Malaysia.

My best attempt to pose after taking 50 shots.

As I took more and more photos, this strange sense of contentment swept over me. It was like revisiting my childhood memories when I played on the monkey bars or when I’d scored my first goal in soccer. Except this was more refreshing to my adult taste.

Learning how to take good photos was always something I’d wanted to do but never had the time for because of work. And it was only at this moment where I’d given myself 100% freedom to do as I liked, to realize that I do enjoy taking photos — the process, the challenge, the results, just about everything! If only I can give myself more time to practice this craft, I could take good photos. I could expand in this field. I just didn’t give myself time in the first place to figure out what it is I also like to do besides work.

And this made me realize something: Sometimes, taking a break from work can help you in other ways besides helping you relax. It’s the best time and opportunity to discover yourself, explore a hidden talent, expand your strengths and reflect upon the quality of life you want to build.

After all, life shouldn’t revolve around work; life should revolve around you.

Don’t you think?