I listen to Sarah's Grynberg podcast regularly and when you do something often, you start to see some patterns. For example, close to the end of her interviews, Sarah pulls out a series of her favourite questions. It doesn't matter if she's talking to Australian rugby player or Matthew McConaughey.
One of those questions is "What was the lesson that's taken you the longest the learn?
So, my answer would be something like this - to want something and not wanting something, doesn't mean there's something wrong with me. Wanting to get out of something, regardless of how lucrative it seems from outside and wanting to go for something that doesn't make any sense as first glance, can be the best for us. And it might look irrational - for the people around us, may be even for us. However it still must be done.
This took me a long time to understand. Moreover, I had to get it more times. Cause I forgot about it few times.
Welcome to the reality
I remember when I was 20 and moved to Bratislava (capital of Slovakia), to live with my grandma and to find my first job. Without any real experience it wasn't very easy, however after two or three weeks of job hunting, I landed a job.
Then I got another problem - I had to start working.
It was the end of November and each chilly morning, I hopped on the "greasy stick" (that's how we call buses) to travel 40 minutes to work. And sometimes, I cried before this. Sitting on that bus, I was thinking about the golden three months spent in Cyprus where I lived and worked in the summer. Funny enough, I was counting days to leave back to Slovakia the last month on the island. Sitting on that bus, I thought I had to be insane then.
To be depressed while in public transport, that made sense - everybody seemed to be that way. So even though it sucked, at least I felt like I wasn't alone in this.
It was different at work, worse, in a strange way. People looked content. It was a good company, intelligent people, benefits etc. And I was aware I was pretty lucky. Less then two weeks into my employment, we had a fancy Christmas party in the mountains, where three big Slovak bands sang for us. I knew I was doing better than if I was working at a petrol station in my home town.
Despite of this, I was hoping that nobody could see that I was secretly checking to time each day, desperately wanting to clock out and go home (or to a pub).
I felt like some heretic inside. I kept telling myself, that I was too lazy, that there was something wrong with me. I kept telling myself I was too spoilt, but hopefully it would pass, I just needed to try. I started to read books about Buddhism. It was my attempt to come into terms with the reality and take life as it comes.
Meanwhile, I was offered a better role and salary and I moved from the reception to an office with a window (windows are important). Also, the summer had started and life became bearable.
Thank you, but no - my slightly crazy stunt no. 1
Either way, I started to understand, this wasn't for me. Instead of accepting the reality, those Buddhist books did something else to my head - I realised that working for a corporation so I didn't have to feel like a looser might not be that important (I work for a corporation again these days, isn't it ironic?).
I created a plan. I would travel. However, just so I am not coming back home as 25 or 30 year old with no education, I would study externally. Each semester, I'd smash all the exams and off I go. I would work anywhere I would go, so I can ear money to go somewhere else.
The fact, that meanwhile I met a guy which I ended up in a long-term relationship with, this fact is but, it is also not that important.
More importantly, this was the first time when my stubbornness and inner rebel showed up.
At some point, I decided to quit my job. My parents thought I was crazy - my salary that time was slightly higher than dad's salary and mum's disability pension all together. And it kept increasing. Rationally, it didn't make any sense. My argument for quitting also didn't satisfy them. I said that "I am not enjoying the job". Dad replied that work is not supposed to be enjoyable, it supposed to put the food on my table. My millennial self did not like this philosophy and I quit anyways.
Stunt no. 2
Then, my boyfriend and I went for strawberry picking to Denmark. My lower back definitely liked this experience less than sitting in the office, however, at least I felt like I was alive. That I was exploring something new. We were outside all day long and I must tell you, I had the best sleep ever in our tent.
However, this only took around three weeks and it wasn't the "stunt" I want to tell you about.
My inner rebel decided to do something even crazier than strawberry picking at that time - to start with financial advisory.
I have no idea what's the reputation of the industry in Slovakia now, however, if it's the same as it used to be then, it's probably not that great.
Initially, I was supposed to train the financial advisors and was in training myself so I could work for a very experienced trainer. However, the ideas and the lifestyle spoke to me so strongly, that I decided to transfer to the other side.
Honestly, the more people kept telling me to stop with this business, the more I wanted to continue. I enjoyed it, the idea made sense to me and it was sort of hilarious to do something, not everyone was brave enough to do.
My beginnings were tough - 22 year old giving advice on money? Sounds like a bad joke. After I while, I took off and was doing well. And this was the time when I understood, there was nothing wrong with me.
I am not lazy.
I am not spolied.
I like working. If it makes sense to me.
Thanks to this chance I gave to myself, I started a career that was fulfilling me for years, expanded my horizons unbelievably and I got to taste how it feels to be competent in something.
Stunt no. 3
Australia. Well, it wasn't about Australia itself. When I was around 28, I started to realise that I had completely abandoned my old dream. Travelling. And I had enough of "later", or "one day".
I don't want to go into too much detail, long story short, my that time boyfriend and I decided to go Australia. The plan was going to Oz for a year or two, then we cut it to half a year. I was 29 when we went and the six months passed very quickly.
Back in Slovakia, we decided to split. So all of a sudden, I found myself as 30 year old in Slovakia, single after 8 years. I could do ANYTHING with my life.
I was deciding, if to fulfil my craving to travel. I wasn't thinking about backpacker style of travelling. I just wanted to experience a different country, try a different lifestyle. To be influenced by something else.
I had a lot of questions:
Is it too late for this?
Is it better for me to stay at home?
Will I regret this?
I struggled with all these questions and was scared.
Meanwhile, still in Slovakia, I started to work as a company trainer and I loved it. My future in the country looked great. And still, when I came home from work, sat down on the couch, I kept thinking if that was it. If I wanted to stay further 30 or 40 or 50 years at the same place. It seemed to be too predictable.
Either way, I started to feel super comfortable at home, when a break up with a fling made me to reevaluate things. I needed to get out. I made a deal with the company, that I would take take time off for three months and I bought a ticket to Australia again. In few days, it would be 5 years since I hopped on that plane.
And again, despite going through som tough moments, I know that if I hadn't gone for it, I would have doubts about missing this opportunity till the rest of my life. Moreover, I got to know myself in various situations, learnt what's truly important to me and seen many beautiful places.
Stunt no. 4
Back in Australia, I worked in the bar. At the beginning, it was nice, something like a mental reset. After a while, I stopped being excited about going to work. And later on, I started to hate it. Everything. The smell of the beer pipes, drunk people thinking that just because I was serving them, I was few levels below them, I hated coming home when it was already dark (or light) outside, my sore legs, unstable hours. All wrong.
Fortunately, someone pissed me off. I like when something pisses me off, cause it forces me to think about stuff and act. It was around a week after my mini nervous breakdown, when I had two jobs and four hours of free time a week. I nearly bought a ticket home, but I took a few very deep breaths and stayed.
My flatmate started to date this American girl and she was at ours. We had a little chit-chat and she asked me what I did for work.
"Do you like it?", she asks.
"No, I hate it."
"Well, but that's what we overseas people do here, you can't do much about it."
And that pissed me off. 'Can't? Hold my beer...', I was thinking for myself.
It didn't happen right away. I finished my work and holiday visa, went to Europe for five weeks and started to work on this afterwards. And was fucking scared. But I made it.
People, don't settle. Rather short and strong pain, than subtle and never ending.
And mainly, don't tell yourself there's something wrong with you. If you don't like your job, there's nothing wrong with you. There's probably nothing wrong with the job either. It's just not a match.
If you're bored where you are, there's nothing wrong with you. Neither with the place. May be you just need a break.
Are you tempted to go overseas? There's nothing wrong with you. You just like adventure.
And still, I don't support laziness. Kids that finish school, don't do anything and live on pocket money. I don't understand, I would be so embarrassed.
The point isn't waiting for the best job and conditions. The point is to try. Search and think of ideas. To get hurt and learn.
To have full pocket of stories and experience.
Raz budeme všetci starí a budeme ľutovať nevyužité príležitosti. A ak sa bojíte, že nastúpite na cestu, ktorá sa vám nebude páčiť, toho sa báť nemusíte. Viete prečo? Lebo to opäť môžete kedykoľvek zmeniť 🙂
Good luck and have fun!