Seriously good stuff written down for you.
Seriously good stuff written down for you.
Who is right?
"I hate this diary! It feels so childish. I am 15 now and I feel like shit. School sucks and at home, we have no money. It is not like we are pathetic or something, but we are not doing any fun stuff anymore. I even have to try and prevent mum or dad needing to take me to the cinema, for the gasoline is too expensive. Better get a lift with others. The paper is gone, magazines are gone, and we probably cannot afford to go on a holiday. I just need to get out of this goddamn city, with its goddamn school and its goddamn children. I want OUT!"
When I was clearing out my apartment in The Netherlands days before starting my nomadic adventure in 2015, I stumbled upon a stack of old diaries. One of them read the paragraph above and it felt timely to read this paragraph on the cusp of leaving my life as I knew it behind in search for more freedom and adventure. This young woman had felt so trapped. Trapped in her family, the school system, the city. I could feel her anger oozing from the pages. My anger. After that outburst I had stopped writing, afraid as I was of the power behind my own words. Reading them 15 years later made me wonder: Had I not gone on to feel trapped in my body and job, too? Trapped in the money-driven economy and a mortgage that forced me to sell my house? Trapped in the confines and restrictions of a tax system that did not make sense to me? An educational system that felt too narrow minded? A country that felt too flat?
I was 14 when our year, over 100 students, headed to London for a school trip. Memories of metro hopping on the tube, eating Marmite on toast for the first (and last!) time and taking silly pictures on the Greenwich 0" timeline are still alive within me today. What I remember most though, is the feeling of it all: Adventure. Fun. Playfulness. Freedom. Joy. It felt so good to be away from what was familiar and explore something new! It felt so good to forget about my troubles and just live in the moment! It felt so so so so good! The trip was an exhilarating experience and I returned with a great sense of freedom and adventure ingrained in my bones forever. "One day", so I told my mother, "I will live in England."
A year later, I wrote that page in my diary. My sense of freedom had disappeared like melted snow and my sense of entrapment had become stronger than ever before. Why was this happening to me?! I did not understand why I was to live in a world where I could experience freedom and adventure for five days, only to then experience suffering and lack for the other 360. This does not make sense! None of this makes any sense!
"I would like to work internationally. You think my English is sufficient enough to be able to get a job abroad?"
Without even flinching so much as his eyes my English teacher, let's call him Mr Oriel, replied firmly "No. Not a chance."
I was a senior high school student by then and English was one of the lowest grades on my list. The other ones were German and Mathemetics and I needed to improve at least one of them if I were to graduate that year. Did he really just say that? Somewhat boggled by his answer, I made the calculated decision to work on my Mathemetics skills. (Pun fully intended.)
Mathemetics pulled me over the finish line, and I did graduate that year, but I would never forget Mr Oriel's stern reply. It was not so much what he said, as it was the firmness, he had said it with. He seemed to be so convinced of my incapability to thrive in an international environment, that there was no room in his mind for another option. Let alone provide me with support or resources to learn and grow as a student. Instead of using my dream as fuel for improvement in the very subject he was teaching, he watered it down and left me emptyhanded. Djeez, thanks Sir! I have often wondered how many dreams are killed in the bud this way by adults who have given up on theirs.
I believe life is mean to be a joyous experience for everyone. But that does not mean the circumstances will always be joyous. If I look at my own life, I can see how I have often been given the exact opposite circumstances of what I thought I wanted, whether it be (financial) freedom, supportive education or someone who believes in me. I have learned that these circumstances are not there to make it more difficult for you. They are there to make you a stronger person and cultivate a quality or skill from within.
Have you ever wondered how it is possible that children in Africa experience joy even though their circumstances are far from what most of us would call ideal? When I came back from that trip to London at age 14, I wanted to experience more freedom and more adventure, which is what joy is all about for me. I thought I needed to change my circumstances to do this, which seemed sheer impossible at the time. Turns out I was wrong. You do not have to change your circumstances to feel joy. You have to change your perspective of your circumstances to feel joy.
It was the late Dr Wayne Dyer who said: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." He was right.
Who Is Right?
After graduating I found my way to Australia where I worked in retail and customer service. I applied for a job as a Supervisor with a Scottish company working in Italy, got it and excelled in it. I continued working in leadership positions for the Edinburgh and Dublin fringe festivals in the UK, finished an international bachelor's degree in three years instead of four and landed a Managing position in one of the most prestigious international universities of the The Netherlands. I went on to move to Wales, UK, where I wrote my first published (e)books in English, created my first online course in English and recorded my first interviews in English. But ask me to do an English grammar test and I will fail.
So, who is right? Mr Oriel and the English grammar test results? Or me and my 20 years' worth of international travel and work experience in the English language?
So often we want for someone or something to be right or wrong. But what if there is no right or wrong? What if both are right? The test is right. I did the test and failed. The test is right. And according to the test, my English grammar is insufficient. Yet, my experiences are right, too. I have testimonials and published books and the writing of this blogpost to prove it. According to my experiences, I excel in the English language. Contradicting facts. Yet, both are correct.
If I were your daughter, which perspective would you choose to see?
If I were your sister, which perspective would you choose to see?
If I were you, which perspective would you choose to see?
Where in your life are you holding back on your dream because someone like Mr Oriel has told you, you cannot do it? Where are you playing small because something like a grammar test is telling you, you are not good enough? What would open up for you if you were to choose to see yourself in a different perspective? Perhaps you do not have the experience to back it up yet, but what if you start creating that experience today?
Be open to this shift. Play with it. You might just be surprised of what you are capable of!
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Hi, I am Nicole!
And I believe life is beautiful.
If you were to look at the world today, it would be easy to tell yourself otherwise. Some people will even try to convince you the world is a horrible place to be.
I have learned though, that no matter how hard life gets, there is always something beautiful to lay our eyes upon.
That beauty is love.
And that love is what has the power to transform the world.