There’s always sunshine above the clouds, but occasionally I get stuck flying through them. Today is one of those days. Even though I have been able to deal with my feelings fairly well for the past two years, ever since I started working in Austria full time, I am still occasionally haunted by ghosts from the past. Sometimes, it only takes a small trigger for negative feelings to overcome me. My stomach tightens up, I have a lump in my throat and I feel extremely hopeless. Most often, those feelings are connected to my past in academia or my professional future. Although I have a great job and am privileged having studied all over the world, I didn’t imagine my life turning out this way when I started university. I had bigger dreams and goals that I couldn’t live up to. For instance, I still haven’t forgiven myself for dropping out of my PhD program and not having the strength to persevere. When I have a good day, I know it was all meant to be because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today. When I have a bad day, however, feelings of just not being good enough surface.
I used to measure my self-worth mostly by what I was able to achieve academically or in my work. I was setting myself up for failure, however. If you can’t be happy with who you are without your good grades or prestigious job, it is virtually impossible to be truly happy. After several years, which I now feel like I wasted by being depressed and feeling sorry for myself, I believe I have been able to make a u-turn. I am now extremely happy unless I think about still not having been able to get a PhD (not that I have been trying since I started my first full time job in Austria because the thought still scares me). When I am living in the present moment or thinking about the future, I feel hopeful and excited. I have so many plans and goals for the next couple of years, and I am confident life will turn out even better than expected. Sometimes when you go through a rough period in your life, you can’t really understand for what reason you have to suffer. You ask yourself “why me?” Later in life, however, you begin to understand that everything was meant to be in order for you to end up where you were supposed to, in my case a very happy place. If I had stayed in Canada, for instance, we wouldn’t have adopted our furry babies, I probably wouldn’t be able to travel so much with my parents and my grandmother, and I would have likely ended up working in academia, which I really wouldn’t have enjoyed very much. Of course, there would also have been advantages of living in Canada. Canadians are generally very friendly people, a lot of my good friends live in Canada, and crafting is a lot more popular in North America.
In a perfect world, I would be able to live in several places at the same time, which sadly is only possible in my imagination. Fortunately, however, I am able to travel, as well as stay in touch with my friends through social media. I am happiest when I can spend quality time with my husband, my furry babies, and my family. I also have a rowing family at the club, and working towards goals in sports gives me a lot of satisfaction. Knitting, as well as other crafts, have given me so much hope in my darkest years, and still make me incredibly happy. I am able to focus on what makes me really happy instead of what I feel like society and my family expect from me. Nobody is perfect, even if it seems like it from the outside. I have often envied people who have “apparently” been able to finish their PhD degrees easily, but often, it just appears like it was smooth sailing for them or they struggled in other areas of life. In any case, life is too short to not enjoy every single moment of it. Of course, there are ups and downs, but everything will be fine if you stay hopeful and optimistic, and tell yourself you are good enough.