That’s what we all aim for right? It’s the dream. Everybody wants to be happy. When I say happiness though, I’m not talking about having everything I’ve ever dreamt of, enough money, no stress, no problems… When I’m talking about happiness, I mean being in a state of my life that does not make me worry about things, a state where I don’t question if what I’m doing is the right thing, since I’m just doing it coz it feels good and I freakin’ like doing it.
But let me tell you, before I reached this state, I pretty much wasted 10 years of my life. Yes, I made an epic detour until I arrived in this place right here right now. So don’t worry when you’re right in the middle of a similar chapter of your life. It’s not forever and definitely not the end. It’s just the start.
How I wasted 10 years of my life
So I had pretty much of a standard education. I went to kindergarten, elementary school, high school… Everything until here was kind of mandatory, because yeah… you’re a kid and you have to do what others tell you. Boy was I happy when I graduated. I remember that I was very proud being honored for great achievements throughout the last school year. I never was one of these overachievers, but I had my one or two favorite subjects I was excellent in. So I attended the graduation ceremony with my family in 2005, got my certificate and my deed of honor and moved on, not knowing how long it would take me from there to find out what to do with my life.
The world collapsed around me. That sounds pretty dramatic, but living in a society that is based on a monetary system and people who think you’re a complete failure if you have no idea what’s the right job for you, makes you actually feel like the world is coming to an end. Yes, I had no job, I didn’t know what to do, so I became depressed.
I knew I wanted to do something creative, so I hopped from one internship to the next, trying to find out what is right for me. Two years later I was sure: I will become a photographer. Veeeery veery bad idea. But my past self didn’t know that obviously, so I started a three year long apprenticeship as a photographer. Let me put it this way: It was hell and despite the fact that I’m now a “professional” on paper, I’m not more than a hobby snapper in real life. Why? Well yes, I’m one of these people who had a douchey boss who just needed some cheap labor, but that’s not the point here. The reason was that I just wasn’t fully dedicated to it. The truth is that I did it, because society thinks you should have completed vocational training in your life otherwise you’ll be screwed for life. So I tortured myself and three more years were gone for good.
Yeah, so working as a photographer was out of question. Somehow I got into higher education then in 2010 because well… I still needed a job right? I managed to get my A level after two years of – what I considered as – hardcore business administration and accounting of hell. I had absolutely no plans of what to study afterwards or if I should study at all. You couldn’t find me on the graduation ceremony there. I didn’t care. I just bought myself some more time.
Someone told me to study something Graphic Design related in order to work in an advertising agency later on, because I’m “so creative and that’s definitely my thing”. It never came to my mind that these people had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I would never tell somebody to go for a career as a hairdresser, because they know how to do “cool hairstyles”. I have absolutely no idea how it is to actually WORK as a hairdresser, for money, complaining customers and a B.O.S.S. … eeew how I hate that word!
But something told me: “Why not! You have nothing to lose and no idea what else to do. Go for it!” Don’t get me wrong. When I was younger I kind of dreamt about working in an agency, being all creative and stuff and that’s why I eventually chose to major in “Multimedia and Communications” in 2012. Aaaand again… very veeery bad idea. Why? Because there was nothing to learn for me. What I truly need to know is what I taught myself years before in high school in my free time, when everybody else was busy drinking and partying. I might have been a nerdy homebody back then, but at that time I learned everything I need in order to fulfill my dreams.
The fact that working at an agency isn’t the right thing for me was something I ultimately discovered in the obligatory internship of my 4th semester. I basically got taught there that everything creative people do is far away from “real” creativity. “Real” creativity was obviously using stock graphics from websites like freepik.com and claiming to be the creator of that genius masterpiece that is now part of a campaign of a local small business. Yeah, right…
So now that this was off the table for me I found myself AGAIN at the same point I was in 2005. I had absolutely no idea what to do and studying was just another way of buying me some more time.
How I decided to throw everything away
After all these years of school life, internships and several “bosses” that loved to hear themselves talk more, than actually teaching something valuable or acting as a role model, I knew one thing for sure: I hate work. Not work in general. Don’t get me wrong. I just hate working for a boss. I hate getting up at ungodly hours and start my work when someone else tells me to.
Also there is not that ONE thing that is perfect for me. This one “dream job” that I can easily find right around the corner or in a newspaper ad. I don’t have ONE interest, I have THOUSANDS. And there is no job in this world that can give me all of that at the same time. So yeah… I had to do something about it. Immediately!
I quit the job that I still had at the agency and became self-employed while finishing my studies. Yes you read that right. I actually finished my studies. I may be confused and undecided when it comes to work related things, but I’m not as stupid as quitting something right before crossing the finishing line. So I take my bachelor’s degree with me, even though it doesn’t mean anything to me.
I threw away my fear of just doing the things I like. I threw away the habit of listening to others and giving a shit about what they had to say. And I basically threw away 10 years of my life, by accepting that all degrees I’ve ever obtained are nothing but pieces of papers that congratulate me on being able to study two weeks straight, keeping everything in my head for the exam and then forgetting about all of that useless stuff again within a few hours afterwards.
How I found happiness
Now I basically do what I want. I’m not in an entirely “perfect” position yet, but I’m working on it and it makes me happier than anything I’ve ever done before.
Life has to be lived! And I don’t mean in an office with colleagues and a “boss” you hate seeing every single day. What I mean is simply doing what you love. Whatever that is!
I took a step and live every single day according to my rules. I work on what I want and when I want, I go out whenever I feel like it, I rest when I think it’s the right time to do so.
When something goes wrong now, I know I have to change it, because no one else can do it for me. If something works perfectly fine, I’m happy about it and even more motivated than before.
I found happiness by just accepting the fact that I had to go a long way round to find what I truly want. Sometimes I catch myself thinking things like “If I only had done this 10-years ago I would have been better off.” But I know that it’s just not true. Years ago I was nowhere close to where I’m now. I grew from the inside and I strongly believe that a lot of people have to go through this dark phases where you can see not a single light at the end of the tunnel in order to be finally “enlightened” without really realizing how it happened.
If you’re in your early twenties and you have absolutely no idea what you really want to do in those upcoming years and what the heck freakin’ life wants from you, just relax. Try to find out what makes you happy. Really happy! Think about what’s the worst thing that could happen to you if you strive for that. Is it really that bad? Do you maybe have to do some detouring yourself until you reach that goal? Take what life throws at you and just make the best out of it. Observe and learn, and let nobody else tell you what is right for you.
Just the fact that you’re reading this means a lot. I’m sure life is teaching you something right in this very moment.