“While you’ll feel compelled to charge forward it’s often a gentle step back that will reveal to you where you are and what you truly seek.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
Sometimes we get caught up in life.
We get caught up in the little things, and the big ones. We start running and before you know it you are on this speeding treadmill with no clue how to switch it off. The only option is to use the emergency stop even though you know that probably won’t end well (you know, slamming into the handles or falling in a YouTube-worthy way). Sometimes we don’t even realise we are on that treadmill until the emergency stop is pulled on our behalf – by friends, family, your job, or in my case, your body.
See, I finished University with a 4 year Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. I had a bursary at a multinational company and was one of those fortunate graduates walking out of class into my first job. The good life. I ended up in a less than ideal environment for me to develop my skills as engineer and spent most of my first year mastering administrative skills. In retrospect this was not a waste. I’ve been raised to know that “I can” – I can do whatever I put my mind to. Off course with that goes the responsibility to actually give your best. And that results in working as hard as you can until you reach the top (wherever that may be) – initially, for me the goal was to eventually be appointed as a “real” engineer.
I finally got the chance to start my official training, but I seemed to hit quite a few bumps along the road. Mainly fighting a system. A tedious and tiresome endeavour. In the mean time I bought a holiday apartment and did long distance renovations. This can only be described as a long distance relationship where you know your things can be destroyed at any time, and you are paying for it. To be fair, it turned out great and I absolutely love my place.
On the work front though, things were going slow. I was supposed to be up for a promotion by the end of my third working year, and instead my training program got extended (again). Although I was sure I’m doing fine, the stress was piling up. My body finally yanked the emergency stop. I ended up in hospital with encephalitis – yes it was serious; no it is too long a story and I won’t bore you with it. Moral of the story is, I was off from work for long enough to start rethinking life – especially my view on work. Ultimately I had motivation to get better: in three months time I was supposed to leave for Italy on the trip of a lifetime.
I got better, went on the trip and had some amazing experiences. I also had some time to start re-evaluating my life choices. All those long hours spent working and not caring enough about my health. Still, I got sick again in February 2016 – that is when I first started this blog. As an outlet. A way of getting away; sharing experiences and reliving memories. I just as quickly got too busy to work on it again, and my blog withered (and died for a while). This time it was a good busy – I got appointed, worked with an amazing team, gained incredible experience and finally reached a point where I realised that I needed something more.
Life was great, but the challenges didn’t seem to excite me anymore. And then, in the blink of an eye, I made the ridiculously spontaneous decision to apply for a scholarship to do my Master’s degree in Sweden. It started out as a moment of curiosity – can I do this, and do I have what it takes to be successful? I promised myself to stay realistic and not get overexcited. I had something like a 0.000005% chance to get it.
And I got it.
Both the most amazing and most terrifying moment wrapped in a simply worded email. This was also the moment I realised how life can take you on an absolute roller coaster ride to bring you exactly where you ought to be. Without getting sick, I wouldn’t have started considering a change. Without my work experience (the good and the bad) I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough to apply and then to follow through. Without the burglary that dragged us home early from a fabulous family vacation, I wouldn’t have been surfing Facebook endlessly only to come across an unbelievable scholarship opportunity.
Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a step back. A time out. A moment to just reorganise and take account of your life. I don’t have it figured out yet – maybe we never really figure it out. But I know that the past five years took me on a wild adventure – and I am better off because of it.
So this is take 2. I am officially in Europe. Living the (well, my…) dream, hoping to see a bit of the world while I am here – and I would love to share my experiences with you!
“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” — Henry David Thoreau