Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith

Life is for living. I want to live the life that when I am on my deathbed, I will have no regrets. No what-ifs. No if only’s. None of that. But sometimes you get scared. You want to settle. Settle into normal life. Be complacent.

And last week I had that moment. Last Thursday I got a phone-call offering me a job back in Dublin (where I am from) with a good enough firm doing a good enough job. And how did I react. Well I was happy that I had options, but the thought of taking the job made me want to die inside. The security made me happy. The thought of returning to Dublin and finding an apartment and living there for the rest of my life made me want to give up on my life. But what other choice did I have? I had no job. No place to live. Nothing.

And then I rang my brother and told him the news. He was happy but (obviously sensing my lack of enthusiasm) asked me if this is what I really wanted? Was this my dream? And hell no. I knew it wasn’t my dream. But aren’t grown ups supposed to stop chasing their dreams? Aren’t we supposed to settle? Realise that that is what our dreams were. Simply dreams?

I told him what I thought my dream was – to work in an NGO. To do something good. As cringey as it sounds to make a difference. And you know what he told me to go for it.

Why go for it? Well I am in the lucky position that I am still rather young and have zero responsibilities (bar myself). I have no student debt, no loans, no accommodation, no significant other, no job. I have just me. And I can do anything and go anywhere (within reason, my family would probably not be too fond of me leaving Europe). But essentially I am free to do as I wish as long as I can afford it.

So with this in mind, I decided I was moving to Brussels. The city which has the work I want to pursue. The city that is saturated with NGO’s. And with this goal in mind. I booked my flights, found a part-time internship, found possible employment with a pub, and have a place sorted to live. Is it going to be easy? No probably not. Is it going to be worth it? I hope so. But I know one thing for sure. If I don’t see this dream through, or even see if there is a possibility of this dream working, I will regret it on my deathbed.

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and dive in.

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Real talk 1: You have already found your passions

Growing up as a millennial, I am constantly questioned with this idea of finding my passions. What are your passions? Pursue your passions. Go after them etc. But then we are faced with the questions, well what are my passions? This question has been plaguing me for the last six or so months. What are my passions?

 

Well it turns out, I already know my passions. And so do you? What do you do all day as you are sitting around. We are all awake for 14 to 20 hours a day. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN THAT TIME? Well whatever it is, that is your passion. The things you do to fill up that time. That is where your passion lies. For me, its constantly reading about psychology and health and mindset. That is why I set up this blog, to have a place to write about popular psychology and ‘life hacks’.

 

So I know my passion. Now can I make a living out of said passion. That is where my priorities come in. Do I really want to start my studies again and pursue something different? That is where the issue lies. I know my passion and so do you, you just need to decide is it worth pursuing it?

 

University degrees mean nothing

From having my first ever job, I have come to the sad conclusion that having a university degree did not prepare me for this at all. I was so naive and starry-eyed going into my first job. I had landed an amazing job (on paper) with an equally amazing salary (one that meant I could live in apartments I had always dreamed of living in) in a top law firm. However, day one, and all my hopes and dreams were shat on. I sat down at my desk, the ambitious and hopeful twenty three year old that I was, to be inundated with phone-calls, emails, documents and excel spreadsheets.

Now I am not complaining (I already complained away all my complaints to my friends). What I am saying is that the skill set I was required did not even vaguely correlate to the skills I gained from my university degree. University does not teach you how to keep your cool when you have a call coming in every five minutes or how to approach your boss when the workload is too enormous for you to handle or that it is not appropriate to use exclamation marks in emails. It also never taught me how to play ‘the game’ or deal with office politics. High school would have prepared me for that though.

My university degree taught me the academic knowledge of law. But I learned far more outside of the lecture rooms than what I learned inside (not that that was too hard to do since I barely went to lectures three out of the four years). But an academic knowledge of the law is not enough and this is slowly being recognised by universities. Take mine for example, which has started a module where you do an internship, write a reflective diary and go to evening classes where you learn about confidentiality and other lawyery things. Great step, but not enough.

I am very jealous of the European kids who get to do an entire semester working in their respective field or who alternate one week in Uni and one week at work.** We should bring in a similar initiative in Ireland. That would be something and I myself would be in favour for the semester long work. Why? From having done internships and working in the real world, there is a big difference. One you are being paid and this changes everything. Being paid and not having the title of an intern or a graduate means people expect a shit ton more from you. More responsibility = more like a real life job. Which in the end is the end goal of university. We go to university to get a good job.

This above rant is by no means a reflection of the company I worked for. I think I would have had the same culture shock anywhere. It is more of a reflection on the educational system in general. The same educational system which is meant to prepare us for 40 plus years of working life. And its failing.

 

** By European here I am referring to the German and French friends I have. Not sure what other countries have this.

 

What is the point of life?

This is a question that I am constantly trying to find the answer to. And yet time and time again fail. The amount of times I have questioned friends on it, turned to Google for answers and multiple self-help books. And the response I have summed up is there is none.

It is up to you to give your life a point. 

If it is up to us to give life a point then why are we getting stressed up about all the small bullshit that hassles our life. Why aren’t we living life exactly as we wish? In the end, am I going to care whether I got the law credentials or not. Probably not, as long as I had sufficient amount of money to live the life I wanted and made a difference, I do not really care if I get my law credentials.

Why do we keep on pushing ourselves to live this ideal life. Keep on pushing ourselves into this rat race which is making us sick and tired and stressed. This life where you wake up every morning not wanting to get up, not wanting to move, praying for the day to be almost over so you can just get back into bed. Why don’t we instead rejoice when we get up and celebrate the fact that life is so goddamn precious. 

We all get obsessed with money. Making money our God. And along with that security. Craving the security. Living life inside a box, never venturing out of the box, because god help if you stray from the path. BECAUSE IF YOU STRAY everyone will be able to laugh at you if you fail, and if you don’t fail, people won’t like you as you have proved all their limitations and excuses invalid.

STRAY FROM THE PATH. I urge you, especially if you are young and healthy, stray. Make mistakes. Fuck up. That is the point of life. Life is not there to play it safe. Life is there to make mistakes and learn from them. The definition of failure is allowing fear to dictate all your actions. GET OVER THE FEAR. Life is scary. Get used to it and embrace it.

So stop sitting in your box living your customised by other people life and make your life yours. Give your life a point.

The Success Sacrifice.

I think there is a lot of pressure on twenty something year olds to have it all figured out. We have the media telling us we are useless, the worst employees to date etc, we have people younger than us, those in their teens who are making millions and creating amazing apps and then we open our newsfeed and we see our friends and acquaintances travelling the world, getting married, starting families or rising up the career ladder. And then we look towards ourself and wonder what we have achieved. Have we even achieved anything? Am I not supposed to be a multimillionaire right now? Am I not supposed to be madly in love with the person I am going to spend forever with right now? Should I have not travelled the entire globe by now? What am I doing with my life?

Relax. Take a deep breath. Take a few more deep breathes. Now read this.

Everyone has their own timelines for success. And everyone has their own definition of success. Some people I went to university with will be fully qualified fledging lawyers before 25, while others will have married and had kids, while others will have travelled to a few countries. Some people will work 70 hour weeks and will become partner by 45 but may not have children, might never be home to see their partner, might not get the time to travel the globe, might retire by 60 and get to see the world. Others might postpone their professional careers and travel the globe, see the northern lights, eat pizza in Naples, dance in the Monsoon rains in India and enter the corporate world at 28, a few years behind others, forever perhaps playing catchup.

Every success requires sacrifice. If you want to become a CEO, no matter what, you are going to have to sacrifice some aspect of your life. You will not make it to every single one of your child’s recitals, you may not make every single meeting, you may not make every training session, every date night or see every country in the world. But you will make the ones that are important.

And thats the thing, to be great, to be an expert, you need to cut other elements out of your life. Figure out your priorities and eliminate anything which is not a priority. For example: when I was studying for my final law exams, I cut out socialising and sport for a year as those were not priorities. What were priorities? Study, sleep and my mom. That is where my time went, if I was not studying, I was sleeping. If I had time off from university, I was at home with my mom. Those were my priorities. And that is how I came out with a first class honours in law as I knew what my priorities were.

Now, that university is over, my priorities have shifted. The things I want to achieve in life are different. This brings me to my second point. Your priorities or the things you expend your energy on, don’t always have to be the same things. As soon as a priority is not bringing you happiness or a sense of achievement, reevaluate and change it. For example, health and fitness has been a massive priority for me the last couple of months. This meant I was eating clean and getting up before work to gym. Now, between being sick and in bed for the last week and getting on a flight to South Africa to spend two weeks with family, my priorities are shifting. I will be focusing more on family time and less on fitness and health. I will still be keeping myself accountable but will not be doing intense gym sessions, simply for the reason that if I stand up I feel like fainting, and due to possible time constraints.

What to take from this article: figure out your priorities, time is limited so you only have so much time you can expend. Make sure your time is going to a worthwhile place. Secondly, your priorities are not set in stone and can shift. Just because you make something a priority or a goal, does not mean it always has to be, as soon as you don’t feel a burning passion for that goal or it does not make you happy anymore, reevaluate it and change it if required. 

What I learned when my mom died

A lot of people have that aha moment. That moment of clarity where you realise how fragile life truly is and how pointless 99% of the things you do in your life are. My aha moment was when my Mom got diagnosed with cancer. She died shortly afterwards (and by shortly, I am talking weeks).

The greatest lesson I took from her death was to stop waiting. She always was waiting. Waiting until she had more money. Waiting until we went to South Africa. Waiting until I went to go to university. Waiting until I left university. She lived in the future never fully appreciating the present. Perhaps the reason for this was that her present was too harsh a reality for her to live in, and therefore she chose to live in this fairytale future. Who knows. I will never know.

But we all have to stop waiting. I see it with my friends. I see it with my family. And worst of all, I see it with myself. I wake up in the morning and I cannot wait until the day is over. Its a Tuesday today, and god I cannot wait for it to be the weekend. In two and a half weeks I go to South Africa and I feel myself counting it down. My brother is worse, he cannot wait until he retires. Its all he talks about. Sometimes I stop. I hit pause on the treadmill of life, and I sit there and I realise is this it. Is this what life is, a series of shitty days which you endure in order to get to the day you have been waiting for, be it Friday, Christmas, holidays, retirement etc. Thats not good enough. I do not want to wait. I want everyday to be a day that imbues me with such joy that I truly am in the moment. 

I want to stop putting off all those things I said I would do like go pole-dancing, read books, date, travel, have fun. Stop making excuses and waiting for fun things to happen, and just do them now.

I think my brother put it best when he wrote on the day my mom died:

“What I can take from this is you have to do the things you talk of now. Cause later might not come. So kiss that girl on the first date, tell your wife how beautiful she looks, buy that puppy and have the baby girl you always talk about. Tomorrow I will continue with my life and make every day one to remember. As for the rest of you. Go hug your mom.”

 

 

Discovering yourself: Who am I

More often then not, we let other people define ourselves. Before we are able to form our own idea of who we are, we are told. This is why it it is so important to define yourself in order to achieve the life you want.

Today’s exercise to help you discover your true authentic self is to fill in the blank: I am _______

Write down, without consciously thinking, what you are. Are you a lawyer, a mom, a student, a friend, tired of life, bored, interested, ambitious etc. Look at these words and decide, do these words/labels correspond to the life you want to live, to the goals you wish to achieve?

 

The treadmill of life

I feel like I am stuck. Stuck on this treadmill of life. The alarm goes off. I get up. I get dressed into my black work clothes. I eat my breakfast. I walk to work. I am in work from 9-6. I leave work. I go home. Plans to meet up with friends forgotten. Plans to go to the gym long forgotten. Far too tired. I make dinner. I watch some Netflix. I wash my face and teeth. I get into bed. I check my Facebook for the tenth time that hour. I look at other people’s lives envious of them. I turn off the light. I go to sleep. The alarm goes off and it starts again. Every day.

I cannot live this life for the next forty years.