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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding My Way Out of an Existential Crisis

I know I have mentioned it here and there already, but the second half of 2014 really wasn't the easiest for me. I have avoided talking about it on the blog, because I was just too ashamed of the feelings that had manifested in my soul and I tried rationalizing it to myself as not wanting to come off as a downer or - worse - an ungrateful bitch. But I have come to realize more and more, that I am not the only one that struggles, that I am not the only one that sometimes feels lost in this world and if me opening up helps someone else in the same situation to be a little less lonely and a little more hopeful than surely this post cannot be for nothing.

My second semester in Norway was truly one of the best periods of my life. I was living in a beautiful place - it was probably the first time in my life when I was genuinely loving the place where I was living - and I had some great friends, but I especially didn't have a lot of commitments. I did have some classes to attend, some papers to read and some exams to write, but for the most part my life was pretty stress-free. Living for the moment and not worrying about the future was easy.

The seven weeks I spent traveling around Asia immediately after packing my bags in Bergen were a good distraction from the change of pace that was inevitably going to happen once I was back in Germany, but they still couldn't quite take away from my fears: I still remember sitting alone in my hostel room in Singapore and skyping my boyfriend back in Europe, because I suddenly had a nagging feeling of panic. Things turned around a little bit once he joined me in Thailand and during the first few weeks back in Germany when I was interning at a law firm, but once I moved back to my university town and was confronted with the stark reality of my serious law student life again, shit got real pretty quickly.

It wasn't like I didn't like being in school - I always really liked academics - but coming back to Germany turned my attention back to the fact that I wouldn't be a student forever and that I didn't really have a clue what I wanted to achieve in life. What was I truly passionate about? What were my goals? I felt like I couldn't quite answer these questions and this lack of direction in my actions kept me from moving forward for many months.

In the following weeks, I spent a lot of time in the library. There were intense exams to study for and while I probably never worked harder on academics before, it just never seemed to be enough. I always felt like I could study more, but at the same time I was also beating myself up for not updating my blog enough, for not heading to the gym enough and just in general for not having a proper work-life balance. Things got easier over time, but I still couldn't shake of the feeling that I was stuck in a slump.

I'm probably blowing things out of proportion here - after all it's not like other people don't struggle with exactly the same problem all the time. Not feeling sure of one's aims and purpose may just be the most normal thing in the world. But in the past, I was usually able to not let the uncertainty of life hinder me from believing in myself and from being optimistic that no matter what happened I would find a path that was right for me. No matter how confused I felt, I always just knew that I would be alright. But these days, it sometimes feels like the opposite is the case.

But you know what? I'm tired of it. I'm tired of letting my insecurities get the best of me and I'm tired of letting my feeling of being lost keep me from living my life. I'm tired of feeling crippled by my own sense of fear. I may never find the answers to my questions, but I want to be okay with that again. I want to be able to trust myself and my abilities enough to know - deep down in my heart - that everything is and will be alright.

That's obviously easier said than done. But I'm working at it, one step at a time. I'm trying to focus on doing more of the things I love - more photography, more writing, more reading. I'm reminding myself of why I started doing what I'm doing in the first place and that I don't have to choose only one thing to do the rest of my life. And I'm trying to be more communicative and to not shut out people because I'm too ashamed to admit that I don't have everything figured out.

I finally want to truly embrace what the rational side of my brain seems to have figured out already: That there are many different right paths for everyone and that not having all the answers doesn't have to keep me from leading an interesting and remarkable life.


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