BEFORE MY JOURNEY STARTS
( April 2016 to April 2017)
Soundtrack: Sail boat – Ben Rector
Oh I’m out in the waves
I’m hoping and praying
Please let this wind blow me home
Night after night there’s an empty horizon
And my God do I feel so alone
Sometimes life, most times I, feel just like a sailboat…
You know this feeling you get after experiencing a big change in your life? The feeling that you need some time for yourself, just to get used to the new way of things, the new status quo? I am sure we all have experienced it at least once in our lives, after moving to a new city or country, after starting a new job, when you start hanging out with a different group of friends or after a break up… Well for me, the beginning of 2017 was a bit of all of that combined. And man, was it tough!!
Even though all of those decisions, moving away from Stuttgart, saying goodbye to friends, leaving my job, ending a toxic relationship, were my decisions, when it all came down, reaching and getting used to the new normal turned out to be much more complicated than expected. I felt confused for a long while, a bit out of place, I felt like I didn’t belong and that nothing was quite right, I started to miss what I had just left and question my decisions, until one day, without me realizing, the new finally became my new normal.
This is where my journey starts, or at least where the story I am going to tell you starts…
In April 2016, I decided I wanted to, or rather I needed a change, I wanted to quit my job and move out of Germany, where I had been leaving for 2 years. I announced to my company I planned on leaving but not until the end of September 2016 to make sure I would still be there for the launch of the product we were developing. I remember being very stressed and anxious during that period, work was exhausting and my personal life was a mess, I was having a very hard time and counted days and weeks until the end. But after my holidays in August, and spending time with my friends at home, my feelings towards my work changed. I came back rested and more relaxed and even though I was still determined to leave Stuttgart for personal reasons, I asked my boss if he could envision keeping me on the job remotely. He was very interested but details needed to be ironed out.
After that followed eight weeks of discussions, negotiations, lack of decision and mental exhaustion. Up until the last week of my official contract, I had no idea whether or not we would find an agreement. It was a total nerve wreck, that added to the usual stress of the job. I could not prepare physically or emotionally for what was next because I had no idea what that would be. It was the worst feeling in the world not knowing where I would be or what I would be doing in the coming week.
Two days before my last day, negotiation finally came to a negative end and we announced to everyone I was leaving. We initiated the quickest hand over of all times and I started saying my goodbyes. Little did I know at that point that the next day, we would actually find an agreement and we would have to undo everything that was done because I would be staying for three more months, remotely. I promised myself at the time that I would never put myself in this kind of situation, I would plan things more in advance and I would not allow people to push me around for weeks without clear directions.
But here again, I was wrong!
By the end of the year, my contract extension was coming to an end. As promised, the discussions to extend my contract once more were kept short and we agreed that the end of December would also be the end of my contract. In parallel, the CEO of one of the companies we were working with made me a spontaneous offer to work on the same project but on his side. He offered me the moon, and more (remote contract, flexible starting date, unlimited holidays etc;) to get me to accept his offer. The opportunity seemed perfect at that time and I decided to trust him. I shouldn’t have. I went to Munich in March to start working with the promise of working remotely from May on. But when May came, there was nothing concrete decided or signed and I went home to find myself trapped in more discussions, negotiations and lack of decision. Common ground was never found, and the relationship ended with the end of May.
And here I was again, not knowing what tomorrow would bring, nothing planned and everything to reevaluate. Starting from scratch once more. My new normal was actually a blank page.
In retrospect, it was probably the worst time of my life, personally and professionally. There was good in it too and I had great friends to help me through it all, but the whole experience was still really overwhelming and chaotic. Yet, I believe in the end it was all for the best. One thing I am grateful for though, is the support of my family, which made it possible for me not to worry about being unemployed for a while and gave me the opportunity to come home and take time for myself to figure out what comes next.
I guess this is what I have to do now, try to fill this blank page that is in front of me. I have gotten used to the idea. I am even getting quite excited about all the adventures to come. And even though I do not know for sure what they will be, I am ready to embrace them. It is my new normal.
Soon I’ll tell you more about this journey, but for now, that is all….
Thanks for reading me,
Picture taken on the plane bringing me home