“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN INDIA?”
Asked Joris Linssen 1,5 years ago. The Dutch television producer was spontaneously interviewing me at Schiphol airport for the Dutch TV show ‘Hello Goodbye’. This interview happened about 5 minutes before I actually left and was saying goodbye to my mum. Find the broadcast below to see how that went.
That was a difficult question to answer! What was I going to do?
- I was going to join the love of my life and travel through India towards Burma in a car smaller than a rickshaw. That was already crazy, not to mention the love part of the journey as I only met Teun 2 months before he actually left to travel the Silk Road. See my Love Story at the top of this page.
- I was also taking a new direction in life. Instead of visiting Teun for 1 month as I had planned, I decided to use this opportunity after career coaching had given me new insights about myself. The most striking was that in spite of the confidence in my personal life, I realized that in my work life I was pretty insecure of what my added values were, and what I wanted to achieve within a job.
I gave up my home and job in Amsterdam and left with the intention to strengthen my core and build the confidence to pursue my newly defined dream job. Besides these clear cut objectives I had an intuitive feeling that I would leave longer then just a few months and find more than simply confidence to pursue a job. How do you explain that in front of a camera?! I didn’t know how that would take shape and it’s not that easy to say “I don’t know where the path will lead to but I’m on my way”.
ESCAPING EXPECTATIONS AND FINDING A NEW BALANCE
After a month of travelling: in Delhi, and driving Sulky down the beautiful coast from Bombay to Goa I started to let go of the ‘assignment’ from my career coach (to fill my core and figure out what my added values were). To let go of my determined mission was my first lesson, and a meditation retreat was the first step towards my new goals. When many of our things got stolen in Goa, even my toiletry bag, I decided this was a good time to let go of more things. My toiletry bag was actually very big. I didn’t need all that stuff. And maybe I could even exist without my IPod and music. With this mindset Teun and I started the first Vipassana meditation course.
Besides learning meditation techniques, these 10 days of noble silence taught me the art of living; accepting the impermanence of all things. It is strange how we tend to forget that life is short and impermanent. It taught me to have faith in the outcomes (in life) and let go of my need for securities. It’s not easy to let go. We all need certainties to different extents to feel comfortable. I believe this depends on your faith in life and people. I have started to make life and work decisions based on how it feels to me regardless of the uncertainty of a ‘positive’ outcome. Doing the right things is simply more important. It’s the same all or nothing approach and balance that applies to my relationship with Teun. This approach to love and life requires having faith that outcomes will match the purity of my intentions. Not that easy to apply; it’s so easy to get distracted by social norms and expectations. Meditation helps me to see clearly and keep my identity pure.
I felt light after the course. I had let go of more things than just my toiletry bag. Shrugging off social norms allowed me to see what really matters to me. Later on in my journey, when I was in Nepal, stood at a crossroads and trying to choose between returning to the Netherlands or pursuing my dream, it was this beautiful change in my mindset that motivated me not to go back ‘home’ to the safety of the Netherlands with my remaining savings but to stretch them as far as possible, pursuing my work/life aspirations in Thailand.
Another lessons that my journey taught me is finding out what it is that I wanted to do in life. “What do you want to achieve in your work life?” was a difficult question for me. Probably because, in my eyes the distinction between work and personal life is a strange one. My ambitions in my personal, work or love life are related; they are life aspirations. When I looked back – as preparation to writing this blog – at the description of my dream job, which I wrote down over a year-and-a-half ago as career-coaching assignment, I discovered that it has become reality today. Even though at that time it seemed like a bold thing to write down.
Now I can say that it’s my life aspiration to help to facilitate people in realizing their dreams; I want to support people, make connections and exchange skills, experiences and resources. Part of my life aspiration is connected to the people from Burma. Especially the women – I believe strongly in gender equality because it is ‘right’ and also because of it’s overall effect it has on a society level.
I have met so many wonderful people who despite all their struggles managed to find a way to stay strong and pursue education and a position in life from which they can contribute to the lives of others. Working for We women foundation, helping the organisation develop by using my skills in marketing, communication and organizational development, is what facilitates me in this dream. Of course this took some time to figure out. My experiences in India (working for SlumSoccer), Nepal (giving training to social workers that work with street children) and Thailand (working for a grassroots Burmese women/human rights organisation) have led me there. How? Read about it in Life Blog part 2 and 3!
- Goodbye to my mum on national TV: http://hellogoodbye.ncrv.nl/ncrvgemist/11-9-2011/hello-goodbye-afl-2-najaar-2011 (from min 12 onwards)
- Interview with Teun and my mum: http://hellogoodbye.ncrv.nl/uitzendinggemist/fragment/hoe-gaat-nu-met-moeder-en-dochter