Recommended soundtrack to the text.
Holidays are over, January is on its way and the everyday reality has kicked in again. We’re still riding the wave of the New year’s enthusiasm, but we all know that at some point we’ll stop referring to 2018 as “New year” and most likely so will we stop thinking about those New year’s resolutions. If we even made any in the first place.
For me, 2017 was the best year of my life so far. I felt that my life has been becoming what I had wanted it to be. Just a year earlier I moved abroad from my home country. In Zagreb, where I had lived for three years, I had friends, colleagues, my university, did summer jobs, all kinds of activities and my family was a two- hour ride away. But now I was here, in Vienna. It took great sacrifices, both on my side and my family’s side to make this possible. And although I didn’t come here out of necessity, but out of curiosity and ambition, organising my life again was by no means easy. I had to find a job in a foreign country, new friends, figure out university stuff, learn how to cook (oh how I miss Croatian cheap student restaurants) and find ways to spend my free time. And I did all of that. A year afterwards I built my life from scratch again. And in the process I also found what I want to do with this life of mine, at least for now.
It’s a tricky situation, not knowing what you want to do. We will spend such a huge part of our life working and right now we are still in position to choose what that will be. It is understandable that we’re afraid we might spend 40 years doing something we don’t want. But how can we make a good decision if we don’t know what it is that we want?
I discovered that for me, this thing is public speaking. I want to speak in front of large audiences, I want to teach people how to speak well, I want to organise workshops where people will play and laugh and feel safe to let the best in them come onto the surface. I heard people talking about ‘passion’ and I had used this word before, but only now have I discovered what passion is. It feels like being in love. When I wake up I think about methods for teaching people how to use their voice well. When I’m in class, I’m writing, but I’m writing down things I could use in a new video. When I go to bed, I can’t sleep because I’m getting ideas for games that I might use in a workshop. And when I’m there, when I’m coaching or running a workshop, I’m thinking nothing. It all goes quiet in my head, I let myself go and existence seems so easy. And if I can get paid to do this, what a beautiful life this is going to be.
Now truth be told, I haven’t been doing extraordinarily well. I haven’t been making serious money with this. People seem to have a lot of interest in what I’ve been doing, but not that many people actually show up on workshops. Not many people actually read what I write and if they do, they’re mostly my friends that I know from before. If you’re reading this (and made it this far), we probably know each other personally. But you got to start somewhere. And exactly thanks to people like you, I feel that all of my efforts, all the energy I invest and all the stress I go through, is worth it. People have been getting in touch with me, telling me that something I taught them really helped them or that my video made their day. I’m starting to feel that I’m making a change, that I have a meaning in this world. It’s not big yet, but it’s taking shape. It’s a beautiful feeling and you I want you to experience this feeling as well. Every person should.
Everyone has a unique situation. Maybe you study something that doesn’t really make you happy. Maybe you ended up there because you didn’t know any better, or because your parents made you do it. Maybe you do like what you study, but have no clue how you’ll make a living with it. Or maybe you already work, but don’t really feel that this is it.
But what is it that would make you happy? And more importantly, how are you going to find it? Well for a start, you’re not going to find it in your living room. You have to go out there and do things. Do not limit yourself to what your friends are doing, what you usually do or even necessarily to what you explicitly like. Go and do all kinds of things. Join a student organisation, a choir, a martial arts club, paint, shoot movies, play music, learn about business, volunteer in an animal shelter – whatever it is that interests you at least slightly, go and give it a try. Realise that you are lost, you don’t know where to go, but this is the beauty of it – you are not lost, you are free to go wherever you want. This is the time in your life when you should do exactly that. Don’t miss out on it, use this freedom. Learn and experience what it feels like to be a designer, an entertainer, a programmer or a photographer. And don’t be afraid of failing! If it goes wrong or it turns out you’re not good at it, so what! You’re not doing it professionally yet, so you can afford yourself to fail. At least you’ll know that this is not what you want to do. So you can just switch to the next thing. You may not instantly find what your calling is, but you will learn about yourself – you will learn what you’re good at and what you like. You may not like being a babysitter, but maybe there will be some aspect of it that you will like and then you can keep looking for professions that have this aspect in it as well.
Talk to people. Don’t hesitate to ask big questions – you won’t be weird. Ask them what they love doing. Ask what they love about it and why they’re passionate about it. This will open your eyes to new perspectives and spark your interest for new things. It will give you ideas that might develop through time and lead you to something big. Plus, you will start understanding people in ways you couldn’t before. Have role models. Don’t follow anyone blindly and don’t strive to be someone else, but think about the characteristics people have that you would like to develop. Each of us is unique, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share things with others. Each one of us is also a mix of people around us and people we look up to, so try to take the best from everyone and see how you can learn from them. You can’t be a leader if you don’t know what it’s like being a follower. One day someone will look up to you in the same way.
It is a long process and it requires patience, but it will not be time wasted. It will be a valuable time in which you will learn about yourself and the world around you. It will bring you more than you can imagine. And trust me, don’t be afraid to fail. Or be afraid, but do it nonetheless. Personally, I’m always afraid. I’m afraid of dozens of things. Clowns, the dark, failure, loneliness, suffering, death… and don’t even get me started on spiders. But there’s something my friend Mislav told me when I was moving to Vienna: Being fearless doesn’t mean not having fears, but not letting your fears stop you from doing what you want. We are afraid of failure because we think that we won’t be happy if we fail. But trust yourself that even if you fail, you will find a way to be happy again. If you don’t, contact me and we’ll figure it out together.
Thank you, my friend and good luck to both of us. Happy New year.