When I was a teenager, my dad gave me a little statuette of a devil lying on his back and relaxing as a present. The base of the statuette shows the words “Life’s Problems?”.
I guess my father thought I wasn’t being serious about my life. Or maybe, looking back, it was envy. My father has always been very serious about his life. There were a lot of things I didn’t take serious about life: My marks at school, my reputation in class (I’ve always been a loner), my future life – I didn’t really worry about that a lot. Some would say I would be somewhere (or someone?) different today. But would that necessarily be better?
When I look back at the life I’ve led between school (I was close to twenty when I finished – normal for people in Germany in the highest form of secondary school) and today, there have been a lot of changes and detours. It wasn’t all bad, though.
I started out working for the tax authorities, but after a bit over a year, that was over. I didn’t really fit in with the admittedly cushy life of a government employee. I started studying computer science, but there’s 90% or so maths in the first half of the courses and I’ve never been very good with higher maths. (I’m good with basics and percentages and even geometry, but I’m really bad with anything that involves strange symbols.) Then I turned to literature and history, two things I really found interesting. I started working as a freelance editor, but never could get enough jobs to get through the month. One day, I simply walked into a temporal employment agency and asked for a job. What I got was a job as a telemarketer. For the next years, that was what I did, for various companies and in various projects. But, believe me, you can’t do that sort of job forever. Then I got the chance to work in a logistics company, in an office, doing normal office work, and I took it. And for this I got a burnout.
Now it looks as if I’m going to be employed again soon, in another company, in a slightly different job that looks like a combination between office work and telemarketing (insofar as it involves a lot of phone calls, but no sales). The boss wants someone for a long stay and I could reach that workplace on foot. I would earn more than I have earned before. Sounds like a good thing.
But even if it doesn’t work out and I don’t get the job, there’s one thing life has taught me in the meantime: Life is not full of problems, it is just full of solutions you haven’t found yet. Or, as the daughter of one of my mother’s cousins once put it: There’s always something better following the last thing you had. What do I have to lose, seriously? The best things in life a free, indeed: sunshine, summer rain, coloured leaves in the fall, snow on a calm winter morning you don’t have to leave your house, cobwebs (fascinating, aren’t they?), butterflies, peace of mind, freedom of thoughts.
My life changed in stages:
- end of school = insecurity about my new freedom in life
- university = backdrop on writing
- first steady work = freedom from home as I moved into my own flat
- first time fired = new security about myself being more than just what I do
- burnout = re-evaluation of my goals and the methods to reach them
It all ended, in essence, in a new way to approach problems and life as a such. I get on a lot better with my parents since I moved out. It makes a big difference if you live at home or have your own home and visit them (even though my cell still holds their phone number under the name “Home” – but then, why should I call my own flat?). I have matured a lot (but that’s to be expected in fifteen years, isn’t it?).
Life is not full of problems (remember about the unfound solutions, right?), but it’s full of changes and that’s good.