I’ll have a coffee, thanks.

It’s real, guys. Like, some of you already know, but now I am ready to tell the world. My name has been signed on the dotted line at the end of a nice-lookin’ contract. And I am starting work again as early as this coming Tuesday! I am ridiculously excited and overjoyed at the prospect. But before I go into further detail, I want to let you in on the rollercoaster that has been September for me.

Early September things were very exciting. I’d just gotten back from a lovely trip in Belgium, where I was able to fully relax and enjoy some time with my family. Once in London though, the jobhunt was back on! More so, I had a promising lead with an agency. I had built a marketing plan for one of their clients and went to their offices to present it. While nervous, they pretty much loved my presentation and thought me highly skilled. So much so, in fact, that they called me the very same day to offer me a job!

You can imagine me being ridiculously happy, right? I mean… I was beyond happy. Here I was, after being home on the couch for well over 2 months already (technically the first month I was still paid, but “feeling useless” starts as early as the second week of being home, trust me on that) and suddenly there was the light at the end of the tunnel I had been searching for so feverishly! I definitely whooped and, of course, told everyone that my search was over! Congratulated by all of my friends and family, I just had to wait to receive the contract and sign on the dotted line.

Now here is where it gets tricky. I’m not a total whiz when it comes to contracts. I mean, I’ve never seen a “bad one”, so I’m not exactly sure how to identify them. My mom though, who’s been an HR manager for… Longer than I’ve been alive? Not sure. I know she started as a teacher in a very distant past, but I can’t ever remember her being anything other than an HR manager. The last 15 years even a very successful one – somehow we were able to survive on her one pay check for over 12 years with 3 kids… I mean, my dad can be very creative and smart with handling budgets, but still I’m sure her being great at her job had to be part of that equation. So naturally, that means I immediately forwarded my mom the new contract so she could review it and point out anything strange.

And then… There were a lot of strange things. Each strange thing was, in effect, legal and on its own not that harmful. But all together, I mean… It was iffy. And the more I thought about it, the more I questioned it with the company, the more I asked advice from people who know a thing or two about what’s acceptable, my stomach just roiled. This wasn’t a good opportunity. I might learn loads, but under what stress would I be living if I couldn’t even take a sick day, because they were unpaid? Opting out of the Working Time Regulations of 1998 – apparently a standard practice here in the UK with agency work – made me feel very uncomfortable. Because while I’d be all right working as much as the job required me to, that does mean that sometimes you dismiss your body ’til the point where your body says “no”. But then you can’t take sick days? Say what now?!

There was other stuff too, about training I’d have to pay back etc., that just made me come down from that high fluffy cloud I was on to this sad pit of reality. From overjoyed to miserable in three days flat. I don’t recommend it. It’s not something I would want anyone to go through. And yet… In a way it was also a good thing? This is weird, because at the time it was really dreadful to go through. But it taught me something: just because you’re happy at getting an opportunity, it doesn’t mean you need to be blindsided by saying “yes” to crappy conditions. Just because I was starting to become desperate for employment, it didn’t mean I had to simply ask “How high?” when they’d commanded me to jump. I could choose not to jump. And so… I didn’t.

And it was the best thing I ever did. Because well over a week later, I heard back from another company – Cafédirect – that they’d wanted to see me for a second interview. The time between hearing back and that first interview was… Three weeks? At least. So I’d almost given up hope. But now here I was: back in the running and working on another marketing presentation. I presented a week later, I waited a few (nervous!) days and… The rest is almost history already.

Their offer was great, down to the fine print. And I’ll be joining their team on Tuesday. I won’t just be working, but I’ll be learning so much, I’ll be part of a team again and I’ll be coming home each day knowing that my efforts are helping struggling coffee farmers from all over the world. Because Cafédirect gives back up to 50% of its profits to the farmers, something which is well over the necessary requirement to be called “fair trade”. It’s going to be in the city of London as well – no more funny trips to lovely ole’ Luton for me. Instead of just happening to live in this city, I’m going to be an active member in it!

All in all, I couldn’t be more happy, because it feels like a new beginning. As most of you know, the past 12 months have been rough going for me. I was dumped. I faced the insecurity of a planned “re-structure” for months in the office. I survived my old boss, which – for the insiders reading this – was a feat in and of itself. I was then pushed into a position I didn’t want and also very much hated. Simultaneously I was forced to move out of my apartment, leaving great friends and memories behind. And all of it then lead me to the last few months, where unemployment reigned.
I mean… That’s rough. No matter how you try to present it.

So here I am. At the end of those pretty dismal 12 months. And while autumn is taking hold of this country once again, I feel like I am experiencing a new spring. Because I am now ready to start a new job for a company I believe in. (I never actually drank beer, or many alcoholic beverages anyways… Whereas I’m a lover of coffee!) Because I am living in a new flat with a great flatmate. Because I have friends who send me care packages or who come to visit, not London, but me and the only expectation is to chill out together. Because I have family who also send me care packages, who surprise me with trips to Belgium and Germany and who’ve been incredibly supportive through this whole ordeal. Because the past 12 months have taught me loads. I now know I can handle way more than I ever thought possible. And I also know that what they say is true: after rain, there will be sunshine again.

I am ready for a new spring. I hope you are too.

12-months

What (not) to say to your unemployed friend: 5 do’s & don’ts

Good evening and welcome to today’s helpful advice on “What to say – or better yet: not to say – when your friend is unemployed”. Given that I have been on the job market for a couple of weeks now and have come to the stark realisation that my industry isn’t in the best of shapes – thank you Brexit – I thought it was time for me to write a post I never wanted to have the knowledge to write. Alas, we don’t always get what we want. Me sitting on the couch all day is a stellar case in point. But at least it provided me with some inspiration, yes? Right, so let’s dive right in:

1. DON’T

Ask how the job hunt is going?
Trust me, if your unemployed friend had good news to share about her incessant search for work, she would have definitely already told you. Most likely she would have hired a blimp with a massive “I’VE GOT A JOB!” printed on it to scour the sky in the area of where you live. There’d be no way you’d ever miss that news, trust me. And if there was any other update to share, like, say, she scored an interview? You will have been notified far in advance, so you could root for her when she went. Even bad updates about failed interviews will be shared – if she wants to. Just… Don’t ask for them, okay?

1. DO

Talk about what is going on with you!
Your friend is, most likely, living a pretty bleak existence right now. If she had the money to spare, she would probably pay you to talk to her about anything other than her own sad reality right now! So have at it, tell her what you’re doing these days, what you’re up to over the weekend, what your significant other is planning for your birthday… It can even be OK to talk about something great you’ve done at work. Just because she’s unemployed, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to share in her friend’s great achievements. If she has a problem listening to your success, then I can tell you right now: that’s not a true friend.

2. DON’T

Be jealous of “all the free time” you’d love to have!
I don’t care whether you’re my bitch or not, I’m about to smack. You. UP! Say that and it’s very likely your friend is doing her best not to punch you in the face right now. You’re being a brat. Because guess what? She’d give a-ny-thing not to be at home all the time. Spending time on the couch is fun for… About a week. Max two. After that it becomes boring and with every passing day, your friend is probably just feeling like more and more of a loser. So don’t be jealous. Don’t even pretend to be jealous. Otherwise any teeth you’ll be missing are of your own doing.

2. DO

Ask what she had for dinner last night?
Did she read a good book maybe? What about a movie? Like it or not, your friend has got a lot of free time right now. You can’t spend ev-er-y waking moment applying for jobs. So odds are your friend is able to Netflix away for a day and picked up on this amazing show she’d love to talk to you about. Take an interest in her life without having what can only be described as “laser focus” on her current work status. She’ll be happy to talk to you about anything and everything, just not her job hunt – capiche?

3. DON’T

Give advice.
This one is simple. Yes, she is applying for jobs online. Yes, she has updated her LinkedIn profile. Yes, she is sending out her resume to various recruitment agencies. Yes, she is personalising emails to people in the business. Yes, she is trying to use the full extent of her network. Yes. Yes. YES! Whatever advice you’ve got: 9 times out of 10, the answer is “Yes, I’ve done that” and you implying otherwise is not only condescending, but patronising and be-yond annoying. Don’t do it. Unless you’re in HR yourself and you actually have valid advice on your friend’s resume, cover letter, upcoming interview (or anything similar), then please keep your comments to yourself.

3. DO

Talk about any job opportunities you’ve come across.
If you know what your friend is looking for and you’ve heard of a job opportunity that really matches her skill set, then of course, tell her about it!!! What are you waiting for?! Any kind of lead like that will be most welcomed! You’ll probably even win “Best Friend” Award of the Year if it pans out. If not, for sure you’ll receive an honourable mention. Either way, your help and thoughtfulness will be most appreciated. Even just knowing that you’re keeping an eye out for her means a lot. You go Glen Coco!

4. DON’T

Suggest any kind of outing.
Going to the movies. Going for dinner. Taking a spa day. Going on holiday. Going partying. The list can go on. Do you know what those suggestions all have in common? They cost money. Do you know what your friend doesn’t have at the minute? An income. Do you know what does still come in though? Bills. So no, your friend can’t go out clubbing with you to take the edge off. And dinner at that nice restaurant is going to have to wait. Anything that entails spending money is most likely going to be off-limits right now. So don’t even go there, because while you think you are taking her mind off things, you’re actually making her feel even more miserable. Trust me, she’s got enough to feel depressed about already. There’s no need for you to help with that.

4. DO

Surprise her with a bag full of food you are going to cook for her!
Or just spontaneously show up with a bunch of dvd’s and demand a movie night! Or maybe you feel like you’d like some company on a walk through the local park?! Any activity not costing money and designed to hang out – without strings attached – is absolutely amazing. Like a breath of fresh air, she’ll be pleased at how considerate you are. Being unemployed can leave your friend feeling isolated, because there’s so many activities she suddenly can’t participate in. By surprising her with your (free) company, she’ll get the benefit of your friendship without that pesky financial cost. Bliss! And also eternal gratitude.
Oh, and if you’re trying to circumvent the “cost” issue by offering to pay for her? Be careful with that one. A nice treat is fine and truly generous, but don’t overdo it or she’ll start feeling like a charity case. Even if she kind of is one right now, there’s no reason she should feel like one.

5. DON’T

Talk about your friend of a friend of your brother who’s in the same position as she is.
Great. What the fuck do I care? Is this helpful information? Is it going to make your friend feel better? Do you really think your friend is going to be pleased to hear that other people are also having a hard time with finding a job? I’m sure you think it’s going to make her feel less alone and therefore less of a failure, but you thought wrong. Instead, it’s just going to convince her that the market is absolutely horrendous and her next opportunity for a job might not be weeks, but months away. She probably already knew that, but you confirming it really adds on the pressure. Thanks for that.

5. DO

Say that you believe in her.
All she really needs from you is support. Belief that she can do this. She may not always believe it herself, so therefore your relentless encouragement is key. There will always be days when it seems hopeless and on those days it means the absolute world that her best friends are rooting for her. You may not be able to supply her with a job. You may not be able to give her advice. You may not be able to show up on her doorstep with a collection of chickflick movies. But you can show support by simply saying that you believe in her. You believe in her skills. You believe that, despite that this is a rough patch she is experiencing, she will get through it. Do that and you are already the best friend she could ever have. Word.

Voilà. And there you have it folks: some insight into what it’s like being unemployed and how to talk to someone who is – i.e. me. Of course, anyone who’s ever had an unemployed friend and now realises that they may have done some of the aforementioned “don’ts”: don’t worry. We, the unemployed friends, know you mean well. We’re not here to bite your head off and discount you as “unfeeling idiots”. On the contrary! We know that you’re trying to be a good friend, but you’re not entirely sure how that works in this new situation. And that isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s simply “uncharted territory” for your friendship. We I would never hold that against you.

Though, now that you understand my situation a bit more, I will no longer make apologies for any grunts, eye rolls, yawns or potential walk-outs you may encounter if you fail to comply with the above. Not to be mean, but you have been forewarned, so no calling me out on being “grumpy”. Because until you wear a robe more often than you wear jeans, you haven’t even begun to understand the meaning of the word.

XOXO

– Your couch potato

 

 

 

The curse and blessing that is YOLO

Decisions. For some reason people around the world struggle with them. I do too. They’re like blank pages we feel like we need to conquer. But how to get those first words onto the page? How to know they are the right words? Decisions very much feel like that. You toss and you turn and you hope that when you do decide, it will be the right decision.

“Yes, he is the guy you will be able to spend your life with, happily ever after.”
“No, that is not the right place for you to move to, far removed from what brings you joy.”
“Perhaps, maybe this job opportunity is the right one, but how to know for sure…?”

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve all been there before.

The problem is that making decisions is hard. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how wise you might be, they’re always hard. Because the uncertainty of making the wrong move is a fearful task. More so even in this world than a world of years ago. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am overjoyed by the opportunities screaming at my generation to get noticed, to be our roads less travelled by our ancestors. Growing up in today’s day and age is a privilege, if nothing else. But let’s face it, in a way, things were “easier” way back when.

I use that term loosely, “easy”, as I don’t want you to mistake it for “better”. What I am aiming for is that, once upon a time, you were born and depending on which family you came from, which gender you were etc., life was almost “pre-decided” for you. It may not have suited you perhaps, but in a way, you knew what to do. You knew how far you could go and what limitations life held. While I’d never want to go back to a world like that, I do confess it sounds appealing in a “Gosh-how-amazing-would-it-be-to-not-have-to-make-such-important-life-altering-decisions-all-the-time.” I mean, hell, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this?

In my opinion, a lot of people make choices nowadays out of fear for going into the golden years with too many regrets. It’s what my generation, the #YOLO-generation is all about: You Only Live Once. And that belief, that fear that you only live once, well it means that you have to carpe the hell out of that diem, doesn’t it? It means you can’t let any kind of chance of greatness go to waste, or you’ll be the fool who let it all slip through his/her fingers. There’s pressure behind making decisions now, not just because life is no longer “pre-decided” and you actually control your own fate (for which I’m sure you’ll all say with me: Halleluja!) but if you make the wrong one, you’re not living up to your YOLO-potential. Shame on you!

Let’s be honest: I have felt that pressure massively as well. Who doesn’t? But the absence of said pressure can have negative consequences too, I feel. Say you find yourself in a life you didn’t specifically ask for, you never really wanted, never truly dreamed of in the way that you’re experiencing it, yet… You can see it being stable, presenting you with a future where you know what to expect. Finally, the pressure is off! And you can rest a little easier. You can breathe more carefree, even as the days, weeks and months pass by and you have to admit to yourself, that while you’re not unhappy, you’re not exactly happy either. The relief of knowing what’s coming next keeps you tied to your present state.

As this is my first day where I am truly no longer employed, the pressure is back on in a major way. While it’s an added weight to carry, in a way I welcome it back with open arms. Finally I have the power to make decisions again! Who’d-a-thunk I’d be glad to feel that stress?! Ha, I genuinely am though. To be honest, I always had the power to make my own decisions – of course I did. But my carefree state made me unwilling to change. Now though, I’m ready for something different. So with that in mind, I’ve made two decisions:

  1. I am starting an online copywriting course at the College of Media & Publishing. I’ve always loved writing and I’ve got a solid background in marketing, it’ll be awesome to truly combine the two and see how I do. I have the time nowadays anyways, so why not? Sitting at home day after day just doesn’t interest me – now that I have the opportunity, I want to make the most of it and learn about something that interests me greatly!
  2. This Saturday I’m attending a Creative Writing course at the Faber Academy in London. Not sure what to expect from it, I’ve only been told to “bring my favourite novel”. But I’m definitely so looking forward to it! This course to me is not about learning per se, like the CMP online course is. It’s not about helping me look for the next opportunity in my life… This one just tugs at my heartstrings. This one… Is just for me. :-) And I can’t wait!

I’ll keep you updated on how it all pans out. In the meantime, I’d just like to stimulate each and every one of you to never lose that pressure. Never lose that feeling where life has no more different stories to offer you, because everything is simply going full steam ahead towards the predictable end. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: life is unpredictable. And that can be such an amazing thing to experience! I’d hate for you to lose that excitement, to lose that joyous buoyant feeling of being deliciously alive. Stop being content if you’re not, not truly anyways. Change it. You have the power to make that decision. I encourage you to do so.

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From: Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (1888)

Life is unpredictable. Expect that.

The other day I was chatting with one my BFFs – yes, I know, what a cheesy way to describe someone, but in my defence: I did grow up in the age of “BFF” and “NWLY” and “ILY”, also known as the MSN-generation. And there’s simply no better way to describe this particular foxy lady. Anyways, I digress: we were talking boys, as us girls tend to do. And in the midst of it, I was advising her to not have too many expectations of how life was supposed to be. Especially not in the love department.

Why? Well, a lot of us – and with “us” I mean “girls” – grow up thinking that we need to find the right man. And once we do, we need to make that relationship a top priority in our lives together, so that when a sufficient amount of time has passed, it will have become appropriate for us to move in together with said man. After which another period needs to pass, so that it will become acceptable for the man to propose to us and we can finally start our “happily ever after”.

Simultaneously though, we are also expected to work on our self-actualisation and be our own woman. To go out and enjoy a movie, you don’t need a man. Same goes for dinner and every other activity you’d often need a partner to “enjoy”. We are told we don’t need a man to feel worthy of love, to feel worthy – period. Which, in my opinion, is so true! But I find it to be a conflicting message, because if we can enjoy our lives on our own, then why can we not have a happily ever after without that other person?

One of my dear friends is a stunning woman. She was married. It didn’t work out. All of her friends have gotten married, started on kids and look at her with that look of pity – because “her plans” didn’t pan out. And it’s heart-breaking. Because her life is freakin’ fabulous. She does what makes her happy. And sure, she’d love to meet a great man and maybe have kids with him. But it’s not going to define her. Instead, she just landed a job abroad and she’s going to be kick-ass amazing at it. I’ve not been this proud of someone in a long time, because – while she doesn’t know it – it gives me hope for my own future. That I can be me and chase after my own dreams, the way she has done no matter what happened.

She’s taught me this: I can be my own woman. And that will already be enough. The rest of it… Will sort itself out, I hope. But I’m not counting on it. I don’t need to follow that “traditional roadmap” in order to achieve happiness. Because even when you do, my friend’s story proves that it doesn’t necessarily mean happily ever after. Expecting that everything will be miraculously wonderful once you’ve got a ring on it, well it just ain’t realistic.

Which brings me to my point, something I’m taking a long time to get to – I know. But as I was talking to my friend who was having all these expectations about how her relationship was “supposed to go”, as us young women have always been unconsciously taught to have, I told her to stop having them altogether. Because life is totally unpredictable. And while I understand that human beings don’t do well with insecurity, it’s madness to think that there’s only one way your life can go, one plan that will deliver happiness. Because that’s not real life.

So I told my friend: Life is unpredictable. Expect that.

A year ago I didn’t expect to be out of a job right now. I didn’t expect I would have moved out from my place, a flat I’d only just moved into at the time. I didn’t expect to have lost a lot of my self-worth in the months past. I didn’t expect to have to do all of this rebuilding on my own self right now. I didn’t expect a lot of things. But I did expect that nothing would happen according to planBecause it wouldn’t happen that way. Because it hasn’t been happening that way for years.

From the moment I applied to business school – something that would never have occurred to me in a million years in the years preceding that decision – I threw everything out the window. My plans I’d had. My future I’d always seen so clearly. I threw it all away. Because what’s the point? Life doesn’t work out that way. And while it was hard at first, somehow I ended up in another country. And then I started building a life here, somewhere I’d never envisioned living – besides in my wildest dreams. Clearly not everything has been smooth sailing, but is that what I did it for? To lead a charmed life? Or is it more interesting to lead a life, experiencing both the good and the bad – whatever it likes to throw at you and see how you do?

I still haven’t got a plan. I have no idea what I am going to do. But I’m sure I’ll find out. As time moves forward, I am totally confident I will at least find out. It’d be awesome to have a bit of certainty, but since it’s been uncertainty that has brought me here… Even through the bad, I’m actually OK living my life this way. As the unpredictable mess that it is. I’ve come to expect it. More even: I’ve come to love it.

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Leaving for London (Luton)

I don’t believe I’m unlucky. There’s no such thing. I believe you make your own luck. But that doesn’t mean that I believe I deserve everything I get. And I mean in the sense that I don’t feel entitled to anything. I’d like some happiness, sure, but I’m not entitled to it. And when something absolutely great happens to me – which doesn’t happen very often, otherwise it wouldn’t be very great – I have trouble believing it. And that’s what’s happening to me now: I’m having trouble believing how incredibly fortunate I am.

In order to explain this feeling of “oh-my-f#cking-god-I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-this-is?!” in an appropriate manner, I’ll start at the beginning.

First off, I was accepted at Vlerick Business School. When that happened, I, as a student, was automatically in the system. Companies from all over the place suddenly had access to my resume. And somewhere in November of last year, I got an email, inviting me to apply for the Best Beer Challenge in Leuven. The Challenge was hosted by AB InBev in March of this year. I had seen people from the company before and decided I wasn’t very interested. But being personally asked to submit my application for a challenge, something that always looks good on a resume? Yeah, sure, I’ll go for it. And it didn’t take long before I was selected to attend.

The second event in my little saga, was in February, before the challenge still. There was a Career Fair at my school and, naturally, AB InBev was present. Seeing as how I was accepted into the competition, I kind felt I was obligated to at least have a chat. Nothing serious. I still wasn’t all that interested in beer. To be totally honest, I don’t even like beer. And I just felt like it wasn’t for me. But then I got to talking… And I was talking to someone who was over-the-moon enthusiastic! She told me lots of things, including the fact there’s a little thing called a “Commercial Traineeship”: lasts 4 months, based in the UK and with a focus on marketing & sales. So I figured… I might as well apply, “who knows right?” When I got to the application process though, I found out I’d missed the UK-deadline. But the one for Bremen, Germany, was still open. Figuring my knowledge of German is quite okay – definitely not at the level of my abysmal French! – I thought “fo sho! I’ll give it a shot!”

In a third step, March came around and the Best Beer Challenge itself was a pretty fun event. I got to know new people, it was an interesting marketing exercise and I really got to know the company much better. I even found out that I had been “short-listed” as someone who they’d like to see apply for the Global Management Traineeship. This was a 10-month traineeship, based all over and much more prestigious within the company. I’d already applied for the commercial one, but after the beer challenge, I figured I might as well apply for the GMT as well. I repeated: “who knows right?”

Fourth, I was quickly rejected as a GMT-candidate, but my commercial traineeship application for Bremen, Germany, was still ongoing. After a long, but fruitful ABI Assessment Day, I was totally convinced that I, in fact, really did like the company. However, because I missed the deadline for UK, I had applied in Germany. And while I love Germany and the German language, my command of that language is nowhere near as good as my English. I can speak pretty okay, but in order to get to know people easily, to perform well in a job… I was pretty sure I’d never make it in the final round. And then… Well, I honestly just got lucky. Because for the final round, I was placed in the UK induction zone, seeing as they could tell my English was way better. It was pretty un-freaking-believable. I still do not understand companies offering their potential candidates better chances at a job, but it’s totally awesome.

Anyways, the final round came and went and I, though I feared it had gone terribly, was accepted. Not as a commercial trainee though… Noooo! As a global management trainee. A position I thought I’d already lost my shot at?! Again: I caught a ridiculously lucky break. And at first I was informed that I’d be going to the UK, but then I was told that it’d be Benelux instead. That… Was somehow a downer, seeing as the UK seemed like this magical land of faeries and unicorns. And up until this point, everything had just been going so stellar… It just seemed ludicrous that I had let myself believe it could have been that spectacular. Not just an awesome company, but also the position, and even the country! But then I figured… I can ask. So… I asked. I asked for the opportunity to go to the UK. And there’s this saying: “ask, and you shall receive”. And guess what: again, a whopping stroke of luck and kaboom, the contract for the GMT position in the UK’s in the mail.

I repeat: I do not believe in luck. I believe you make your own luck. But holy crap, I didn’t do this. I happened to go to a competition. I happened upon a nice girl at a company fair who told me all about AB InBev. I happened to get switched to another country and to another position. I didn’t do any of this?! And yet, I have this crazy-ass amazing job offer now. Something which I would not have imagined, not even in my wildest dreams only a few weeks ago. And I’m having trouble believing it, because I just cannot believe how lucky I got. How incredibly lucky.

There’s one thing I really did though. One, small, but significant thing. I went to the bookstore today. And I got myself a big guide to London :-)

Image,

Futurus localis?

The future. Today was all about the future. And before you ask: “No, I have no idea if the Latin spelling in my title is correct or not. I’m guessing it is, but it’s been like 5 years since I’ve read Latin, so I’m a little rusty. And don’t give me that look. You know the look. The look that says You studied Latin for 6 years straight? Are you crazy? to which I can only reply that Yes, yes I am. And if it has taken you this long to realize that, I’m doin’ it wrong.” 

Anyways, I went and visited a close friend of mine today, so we could discuss – you’ve guessed it – our futures. Both of us are nearing that graduation end-zone and where I’m completely convinced that “a job” is the next step, he’s still figuring things out. And that’s what we were doing today: trying to figure things out. Because let’s be honest: is there anything as daunting as making that first step into the rest of your life? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m damn right scared shitless! And I have two reasons for that:

1) It’s an extremely funky feeling of thinking about the rest of your life and only, basically, thinking about it in a job-related context. See, there’s no hot guy waiting for me at home. (Well, I guess there’s several hot guys waiting for me at home. But all of them seem to be quite attached to the paper they’re written on, so I haven’t had much luck with any of them just yet.) And my family and friends, while I love ’em like crazy, are not a reason for me to stay tied down anywhere. So in the end… When I think about the future, I just think about a job. “What kind of job? At what kind of company? In which country even, because I’m seriously not that attached to Belgium?” And my friends & family – we’re talking pre-Vlerick era here, not my Vlerick friends who are experiencing the same thing as I am – don’t really look at the future that way. For them it’s riddled with questions like “Where will we live? When can we move in together? Is this the guy I’ll marry? etc.” And I love my friends being so happy like that, but… I’m nowhere near that place in my life?! And that, ladies & gentlemen, is a funky piece of tiddlybits! (Pretty sure that’s not a word, but who cares. It’s a holiday and I’m a tad sleepy.)

2) I have three university degrees. One’s a bachelor and soon I’ll have two masters. All of them are in a different field: literature/linguistics – PR/communication – Marketing. Which means that… I have options. And like, a lot of them. Up until now, I’ve never seriously considered doing anything with books – I mean, I obviously still read them like the crazy book junkie that I am, make no mistake about that – but now that I’m thinking about the phrase “the rest of you life” I’m putting everything back on the table. Because, wow, I really don’t want to make the wrong decision? What if I decide to write a book and fail miserably? What if I become a marketing guru who never has time to write anymore? What if I go into PR and forget about books entirely??? It’s like… AAAAAAAAAAAAH! The freakin’ what-ifs are killing me! Well not physically killing me, but you can tell from reading that my brain is clearly under some duress ^^

So there. I’m scared shitless. I’m not afraid to admit it. And that’s also known as “irony”.

Meow. I don’t know what I’ll do yet. I’ve got a cool opportunity coming up next week, so who knows what’ll happen there. And if all else fails, my imagination is sure to lead me out of the place I so fondly refer to as the hole. For those of you who do not know what the hole is: it’s that place where you go when you feel like you’ve tried something and if it had worked, it would’ve been sheer brilliance and everyone around you would cheer and yell “Ohmigosh-that’s-so-awesomecakes!”. But sadly, whatever you wanted to do, it didn’t exactly pan out and now you’re wishing you could be invisible and it’s like you’re physically shrinking in size and… Theeere you go. You’re in the hole.

So yeah, I think if that were to happen, I’m sure I can spring for some rope with some bizarro thoughts in my head and off I go, climbing out and on to the next venture. But I just wanted to make sure everyone had a clear understanding of what the hole actually entails. I am, however, very sorry if the explanation was somewhat redundant or maybe even way too far-fetched, taking you into the coiling tangles of my brain, which has now completely freaked you out. I know I’m weird, and it ain’t easy being me. But there you have it.

Anyways, I’m just wondering how other people do this? I mean, really… Do this? Because everyone goes through this phase. Coming out of school and joining the workforce. Millions of people do it every year. And yet it doesn’t seem to be treated as the huge mile stone it is in someone’s life in the way that it should be. The first day of kindergarten. The first day of primary school. High school. College… But the transition into work life? Yeah, there’s no card for that. And definitely no rule book. Even though there’s a bunch of us going through it every year. I guess, if all else fails, there’s some strength in numbers, yes?