Did you ever get to a point in life where you feel like you quit doing what you love to do because something or someone made you believe that it is time to grow up, time to build a life, a career and a family? Well, welcome to my life… and welcome to the expectations and struggles of Western society.
How it all started to go down…
A few years ago I started my Masters’ program in Anthropology at a University in Belgium and for the next 3 years all I did was going to classes, writing papers, studying for exams, traveling for research, working to pay my bills while studying and thinking about how I could possibly become the best version of ‘my anthropologist self’.
Society made me believe that it was time for me to move on, to get over with the fun things in life, to start thinking about the future and to do something with my skills and experiences. I decided I wanted to start a PhD program and I focused really hard on getting accepted into a new university to continue doing what I thought I loved (and was born for) to do.
I was focusing on my career!
“For a long time I made myself believe that if I lived the life I was supposed to be living – according to my parents and societal norms – I would just become happy like everyone else. Instead, I started to realize many people are not happy with their 9-to-5 life and I would rather die than to become one of those settled couples who work to pay bills and go on a one-week holiday once a year.”
Once I started my PhD career, I did no longer have time for things that were not beneficial somehow to my ‘bigger plan’ (as in things that did not bring me closer to a career). Blogging about my travel experiences was obviously out of the question and seemed suddenly something from a far away past in which I wasted time doing silly things. Deep inside my soul was crying because I hated not being able to be myself.
Instead I wrote academic papers, I got involved in volunteer work and I wrote for other companies and universities, either because I got paid for it or because I got published somewhere. Initially I found it satisfying (or should I say that my ego was pleased) but soon I learnt that I was becoming involved in a life-long battle to become (and remain) an expert in my field if I wanted to continue this career.
I did not work myself up, but out.
Over time I also started to feel very unsatisfied with myself because I learnt that I did not write what I wanted to write and my creativity was often blocked by editorial instructions, my employers’ requirements, and so on. Slowly but steadily I started to go down… One morning I woke up and my whole body and mind decided that I could not do it anymore.
I fought against my writers’ block for months. My doctor said I was experiencing a ‘burn out‘. Me? How was that even possible? I will save you the details about the worst months of my life after this, but I will tell you that if I knew back then what I know now, I would have quit my job (and not my life) right there right then (and not the other way around).
How it started to get better again…
The moment that I accepted that I became deeply unhappy because I was not living the life I was born for, the destiny I was destined for… that I was not working for the boss I was supposed to work for, that I was not loving the love I was supposed to love, and so on… I felt so relieved. I felt set free.
The hardest thing for me to learn over this hard period of time was to trust in nothing and to embrace emptiness. I think that we grow up with the idea that we need to create stability and a balanced life, and that this will make us happy.
My parents still ask me:“Julie, when are you going to start thinking about the future?”
But all I can think about it is…“Collect moments, not things. And do what makes you happy”
The moment that we lose ground and surface underneath us (because of losing a job or breaking up from a relationship, for example) we freak out and get deeply unhappy. We are taught that we need stability (amongst other things, of course) to be a good human being.
The first months after I realized that I had to quit my job, my relationship and that I had to leave my current view on life because it was obviously not working for me, I experienced anxiety, depression, hyperventilation and insomnia.
My body was just trying to communicate with me that my mind and my soul were unbalanced. I had to learn to start listening to my heart (which was in connection with my soul) and not my thoughts (which were in connection with my mind).
I must admit that it took me many months to get to this point, but the moment I was able to understand that I needed trust instead of fear, that I needed to embrace emptiness instead of trying desperately to fill the gaps in, I could truly become happy again.
When my employer or my partner made me feel down, I also often thought that there was something wrong with me. That is a typical human thing to do and believe, especially when things are not matching. When things are not falling together, they sometimes start to fall apart. So, I quit my job and my relationship and whatever that made me unhappy. I started to respect myself and accept myself the way I am.
Now I am on a new path of self-love in which I learning to love myself with both my under -appreciated talents and skills, and all my shortcomings and traumas. This was the only way I could finally started to live (and blog) again. And so, now you know why I quit blogging for years…
Keep following From Julie With Love from now again, stronger than ever, with a brand-new lay-out, new contents soon, and many more adventures to be shared.
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