Thursday, 30 June 2016

Looking back, and the road ahead

Somehow, the end of an educational year always feels like New Year's Eve: wishful thinking about a better year next time, whilst appreciating the fact that all struggles can be forgotten, if only for a split second. There are no fireworks or kisses on the cheeks, but we can certainly mentally pat ourselves on the shoulder for surviving better than we expected. People always tell us to not dwell too much in the past, with the mindset that it's nothing more but a black hole. However, sometimes it just takes a little spin on perspective whilst connecting the dots, to see that, in retrospect, out hardships did pay off quite nicely. Here's a little summary of my journey so far:

I will admit, summarizing our own "achievements" like this is a bit tricky. There's always more behind a story than catchy punchlines and simplified icons. After all, we live in a world of 3d, not 2d. Depths and heights are a part of life, and whilst the Netherlands isn't particularly known for hilly highways, nobody can claim that everything in life has been a plain bicycle ride to success. When I say success, I do not mean achievements. I actually think the most successful people are the ones who know where they are in life, what they want, and how they'd like to get there. A vision of the road they're standing on. 

In my opinion, focus and passion are the keywords to success; achievements should be nothing more but a side-dish. Yet here I am: almost officially graduated from my Bachelor's Degree and wondering if I will ever make it in life. Don't we all? It's the time of doubt and fear: quarter-life crises for the win! With financial troubles throughout our educational years, it is not odd to fret even more about what decisions to make. Keep breathing, though. Hasty decisions won't clear your head, hence I chose to expand the road ahead with explorations.

As seen in my little illustration above, I have always been prone to wanderlust. Life was a constant journey of finding myself. Yet, have I found myself after moving from city to city? Before I answer this question, perhaps I should ask: is it reasonable to ask myself whether 21 years of cells are now representative of the 60+ years of cells to come? I don't think so. All I know, is that after all these years, writing hasn't stopped. Whether I scribble quotes on my phone, dedicate my time to yet another blog-post, or retreat in my bedroom with a diary: I have always been writing, and I am still learning despite choosing my education in design/engineering. 

The power of exploration might be looked down upon by some, perhaps labelled as "a waste of time" as long as big numbers such as grades, the amount of followers, income, etc, don't verify our right to explore. I might have my little paper saying I'm a "Bachelor's Graduate" soon, but that should not define me. It's the small routes and detours I took that made me who I am today. Who knew that little Cynnie who always dreamed of being an architect, would turn her gaze to much smaller objects instead? Who knew that I would ever know how to work with Illustrator or Photoshop, whilst kid-size me used to remove backgrounds from koala pictures with Paint? (Yes, my favourite animal as a kid was a koala.) I wouldn't have gone through these changes without landing myself in unforeseen situations. 

The road ahead is huge, but so are the accumulated roads behind, there's wisdom in both of them. Next year, I am taking a gap year. I am giving myself the time to leave my rational mind behind and study Science Communication for a semester whilst trying to find part-time jobs that allow me to grow in my hobbies. Writing and visualizing are two of them: both are just a way of storytelling, and my story has just begun, so has yours.

Sometimes it's easy to feel lost when a year is coming to its end. We look back at what we did and did not do, and wonder what would happen next. This is not only for fresh graduates, but also to those who are contemplating a change in their route: dare to be easy on yourself, dare to give yourself time, dare to explore. It's all easier said than done, even I feel a bit uneasy about extending my time to a future career, but I know that letting go of my dreams without even trying will haunt me. The engineer might be good for the mind, but the poet is good for the heart. Take a deep breath and start roaming; stumble over mistakes and stand up again. Who needs fireworks when entangling roads can become an artwork itself?

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