For the third time in my short 24 years of life, I’m reaching the end of my studies. My Masters program is over in 105 days (but who’s counting) and barring the (high) likelihood of my head exploding in the next 6 weeks of classes/exams/papers and the subsequent 10 weeks of thesis-writing, it will soon be time to figure out wtf I’m doing with my life. Again. To put it into perspective for you, I graduated with my BA exactly three years ago today. A year of work, a year of travel, and almost a year of Masters later, here I am back in the same holy-shit-what-now situation, only with a whole new perspective.
Anyone who knows me is familiar with the fact that I used to be a pretty high-strung high schooler. I got a B once in Geometry and my dad came home thinking someone had died bc that’s how hard I was crying. Yup. Then came college and then graduation, with the months leading up to it being unbelievably stressful for me bc I had zero idea what to do or how to do it and ended up stressing myself out over nothing bc I went home and traveled a bit and found a job and life went on. Now in 3.5 months I graduate with my MA in European Studies – Governance and Regulation, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m feelin’ pretty chill. I mean chill is a strong word considering at this point I’m trying to make plans with friends like, “What are you doing June 29th bc I am definitely free that exact day and not a single day before that day." Like, my day to day life is decidedly not chill. Between work and school and (sometimes) the gym and the occasional very necessary social breaks that sometimes involve alcohol and often regrets, I don’t have a lot of breathing room at the moment. But I am about 1000x less freaked out about the future than I ever have been.
Now don’t get me wrong, part of that lack of inherent anxiety is bc I’m so busy trying to handle the day to day stuff that the long-term stuff isn’t even kind of on my radar. And it’s not like I’m all zen bc I feel like I am finally qualified for literally any job at all – in fact I find the more I learn the less I know and the distinctly less qualified I feel – but rather, I have a part time job that pays the bills (barely), I have a beautiful apartment with an amazing roommate and incredible friends, and I have all kinds of time to figure out my next step. It’s not that I’m unmotivated, in fact I’ve recently been experiencing what you might call a reawakening of my professional motivation and I’m super psyched to hopefully be working towards my goals in a professional setting again soon - I know I sound like a loser just leave me alone. But I’ve finally realized that worrying about where and when and why and how the future is going to work is simply not going to get you anywhere. So here I sit (not paying attention in class) with a to-do list as long as I am tall, a strong cup of coffee, and a serious lack of sleep. I’ve got lists of future goals ranging from like, getting out of bed tomorrow morning to you know, working for a badass organization that focuses on peacekeeping in areas of conflict. I have lists of where I’ll be traveling in the next few months, grocery lists, lists about other lists… you get the idea. But I’m not losing my mind so much (potentially bc there’s not much less to lose). Bc it’s going to be just fine, dammit.
You see, no matter how much you think you know – and I don’t pretend to know much – you probably know less. And no matter how well or poorly things are going one day, the next day will be a brand new start full of all kinds of potential screw ups and joyous occasions. Take me the other day for example (bc this blog is about me so that’s what you get). I was on my way home from work on Thursday (I work as a hotel receptionist for a big hotel chain in town) when I noticed my keys weren’t jingling as I road over the cobblestone sidewalks, which meant that my keys were no longer on me. And if my keys were no longer on me, that meant that they’d fallen somewhere along the 20 minute bike ride home into the street or onto the sidewalk just waiting to be run over or picked up by some curious squirrel and lost forever. Naturally, I lost my marbles a little bit. In the exact moment I was making the realization that I was missing everything from my work keys to my apartment keys to my bike keys, this 200-year-old (ish) sweet little German lady asked for my help finding the closest McDonald’s. Obviously I could not blow her off (despite my distress) bc A. sweet little old people are my favorite and B. there was already clearly something clearly off with my karma so I figured ignoring the nice lady was probably not the move. A full 2 minute conversation later about how difficult it is to find a damn McDonald's without a GPS, I was biking back in the direction of work in the dark with no light on my bike bc I’m currently using my backup bike – which doesn’t have a light - bc my primary bike is broken bc of course it is. Fab.
So I called Des, who just so happens to live between me and my work. Being one of my favorite people on the planet and amazing in every possible way, she immediately said she’d put on some pants (bc who wears pants at home, duh) and come help me look. Mind you this is 11pm on a Thursday and we had class early the next morning. So out she came, and we walked my bike for a good hour back down the path I had just come, using our flashlights for light and keeping ourselves entertained by our own general idiocy – the irony here being that we had just been talking about how we should hang out… this was not the way we’d meant but I guess quality time is quality time.
Anyway, we found my damn keys. It took an hour of searching and some slight hysteria before we finally found them LITERALLY RIGHT OUTSIDE THE PARKING GARAGE OF MY HOTEL and jumped around shouting for joy as some of the hotel guests looked on (and probably assumed we were a couple of drunk idiots based on our behavior). It was such a hallmark moment. We walked home with a much more enthusiastic bounce in our step, and it wasn’t until we reached Des’ apartment and I hopped back on my bike to ride home that life decided to sucker punch me again real quick – two pedal strokes in, my chain broke. 12am on a school night, I’m a 45 minute walk from home, and my chain (on my freaking back-up bike breaks. Fab. So I tried to fix it, but it was stuck and I was not awake or savvy enough to fix it in the moment. With greasy hands and a tired brain, I decided it was time to accept my fate and walk home. Because of how my life works and bc of how this night was going, it started to rain within about 2 minutes of me starting my trek. So I called Joël to keep me company on the way (and obviously laugh at the massive joke that is my life) and made it into bed around 1.30am. Suffice it to say that when my alarm went off for class the next morning, I absolutely ignored it.
The point is folks, you’re never going to know it all or have your whole life together. Sometimes it feels like I’m never going to know anything at all or have any of my life together. But in 3.5 months my thesis will have been turned in and I will have a MA after my name (I will also have a BA, and according to my mother sometimes an additional DA – for dumbass). I’m not sure how I’ll make it through these 3.5 months (probably with the help of the 5 upcoming trips I have planned - yes, my bank account is literally empty and all I can afford to eat is rice) but I have a feeling this is going to be one of those times in my life where I look back and wonder how the HELL I got through it. But hey, at least that means I’ll have gotten through it, right?
So this is where I leave you. Class is almost over so I have just enough time to run to the grocery store and eat a quick dinner before heading to work till 11 and then coming home to pack for our program’s coordinated 3 day trip to Berlin for which I have to be up at 6am tomorrow. Have I mentioned how unbelievably busy I am? Sleep is a distant memory and sanity was lost a long time ago, but life goes on (or so I’ve heard).
In closing, please enjoy these random thoughts that have passed through my head and are probably not relevant to anyone at all but you’ve read this far so why not finish it off:
PS. To explain the title: Evolutionsbremse literally translates to “evolutionary break.” The definition is as follows: an “evolutionary brake” is an unintelligent person whose very existence on Earth hinders the advancement of the human species, so to speak. It felt like a relevant word in a time when people and governments in Alabama and Georgia and so many other states are proving to be the embodiment of this exact concept.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)