Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Getting better

In my last blog, I wrote about the fears that I'm facing nowadays of not succeeding, of not becoming what I want to be. It' still a daily battle to conquer these thoughts.

When I decided to leave my job, the first obvious questions someone would ask upon hearing the news was: 'so what are you going to do?' Whenever I answered that I wanted to become a documentary film maker ánd a graphic designer, the other person would frown and ask: 'Oh, are you going to film school?' or: 'Are you doing a course at art school?' or: 'How are you going to do both?'.
I wasn't planning to go to school again, I just wanted to give it a try with the experience I had so far, and I had no clue how to do both. So being put on the spot like that would easily put me in a state of panic.

What was I thinking? I have asked myself the same questions over and over again: how can I do something I am not educated in? In the Netherlands, having the 'right' education is very important, or at least, so it seems. Thinking of a career in high school or changing your career later in life is always connected to having 'the right education' to be successful. However, looking at the people around me, most are doing something else than what they are educated to do.

Being confronted with the American way of thinking made me realize that there are other ways to look at this: you can do whatever you want, as long as you work hard for it. The American Dream. Obviously, this concept has a lot of downsides to it, but I really love the American reaction to my new career: 'That's great, what kind of movies do you want to make?' 'Cool, what do you design?' 'Nice that you are able to combine these things!'.

I am still working on becoming what I want to be. But I must admit that looking at the possibilities, instead of the obstacles is definitely more empowering. I still compare myself to all the people who have had the 'right' education, or have a lot of experience, and it always puts me down. How can I live up to their level? Then I saw this inspiring video, and I realized: I don't have to be great right now. I just have to get better. And the only way to do that is to work on it. Which is exactly what I've been doing this last year.

A year after quitting my job, I'm at the point where I call myself a beginning graphic designer and film maker. Which is more than just wanting to become one. And I'm starting to realize that this is ok for now. Instead of comparing myself to other people in the field - who are obviously mostly more experienced - I try to compare myself with me, a year ago. And I look at all the things I've done, and I've worked on. And even though my fears still will tell me it's not good enough, I do know it is better than before.

Click to see the video

Monday, January 27, 2014

Letting go

Without trying to be negative or melancholic, lately, I have had this feeling that it is all about letting go. And no, I haven't read any of the Dalai Lama books, nor did I do any Mindfulness course and I didn't visit any psychologist or shrink either.
The only thing I actually try to do, is listen to my body. And if there's one thing my body is telling me - apart from the daily messages about food, sleep and the more private needs one needs to give in to several times a day - it is that it doesn't want to let go.

I never expected this to be a physical feeling. But it's there. A very strong feeling that reminds me of when I was young, and my brother and I were fighting. I would sit with my back against my bedroom door, and my feet against my desk, hands flat on the floor to push, to prevent him from coming in. Now it's the other way around and I'm sitting in the same pose, trying to keep things from leaving the room.

So what the hell am I talking about? Almost a year ago, I quit my job and started the insecure life of being a freelancer. Part of that life is having to let go of things, the steady income obviously being the first. I also expected to have to let go of my life style of drinking vast amounts of coffee with friends, going out for dinner on a regular basis, and just not thinking of money that much. That definitely has changed. With less money coming in, one needs to be more conscious about how to spend it. Nothing wrong with that.

But over the last year, I also had to let go of other things, that in one way or the other had to do with the choices I've made. Letting go of people who were a big part of my life, letting go of ideas about my life that I wasn't even aware of: suddenly I saw myself at the age of 35 and realized: this wasn't what I pictured when I was 10. I have no idea what it was that I pictured, but it wasn't this, that is for sure!

One of the most important things I had to let go of is my own mindset. Honestly, I'm still working on that. To convince other people of my qualities, to do what I want to do, I first have to believe it myself. Which is harder than I thought. Once in a while, I find myself mentally blocking the door with my feet against the desk.
And the biggest obstacle: fear. Because, that is what it is all about. Fear of not succeeding, fear of not being able to do things, fear of loosing people, fear of the unknown life that lies ahead, fear of not drinking enough coffee with friends. Fear makes you tense, it makes you feel like your stuck with your feet pressed against the desk, and your back against the door.

So I have been carefully trying to let go of things, not to resist. I am trying to pull up my legs little by little, so they're not pressed against the desk anymore. If somthing need to leave the room, it can go. It might come back, or something else might walk in. You never know what's going to happen once the door is open...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Travel trouble

At the end of 2013, I left my country for the fourth time in that year. Traveling is great. I love to be 'on the road', in the no mans land of airports and train stations, where you can be a part of the mass that is moving from a to b. The small rituals of traveling; the passport control, the moment they start serving the meals in the plane, the strange smells and colours that come with new destinations. And finally the discoveries of a new world, in which you have to figure out how things are working.

Traveling is great, but there's a down side to it. The more I travel, the more I become aware of it. Custom officers who suspiciously treat you like your a fortune seeking who won't ever leave the country again. The notion of the enormous amount of plastic that is involved with those airplane meals. Flying itself, which makes every other environmental choice I make totally worthless. The frustration that comes along with discovering a new place when thing are different - and hence often illogical - than at home.

It's not a solution to crawl under a stone in Amsterdam and never to pack my passport and undies again. So I decide not to get intimidated by custom officials and I choose not to enter the body scan. And even though the cons of flying are big on the environment, to me they still are not bigger than reaching that final destination far from home. So I compensate by buying trees (which is also a dubious business) and I carry a canvas bag and a coffee mug with me at all times (also when not flying).
The frustrations of exploring a new place will stay, but eventually they will give you new insights and they will teach you that there are several ways to get things done.

Traveling is great. But I do believe that is a good thing to realize that there are two sides to it. Whatever you do with that knowledge is up to you.