“It all began with brain tumors”
Within six months three people I knew passed away because of a brain tumor. Michaela, who I studied with, died at the age of 35, mother of two children. My favorite school teacher, Mr. Appleby, died a couple of months before her – because of a brain tumor. In the very same month my grandpa lost his battle – against a brain tumor. From the day on he got the diagnosis he only had 3 months to live. I was shocked and struggled.
I suddenly realized how short life can be. There is no guarantee anymore that you live a long life and die from a heart attack. The three deaths affected me a lot. So I started reflecting on how my own life looked like and suddenly I was scared of missing out on what is really important in life.
The years before my grandpa, Mr. Appleby and Michaela died, I was working so much and didn’t give myself a break. In the late summer of 2010 I had all symptoms of a burn-out but I didn’t go to a doctor. I wanted to have a break from my stressful and unsatisfying life. Everyone around me was expecting that I would start the “serious” life. With a partner, kids and a house with a garden. For most people it’s exactly what they want, but not for me. That wasn’t what I wanted.
I wanted to see the world.
I wanted to live MY life and not the life that society had planned for me. I was always very self-confident, knew what I wanted and then all of the sudden (just before my 30th birthday in the brain-tumor-year 2010) I realized that I didn’t like my life and myself anymore. I wanted to get as far away as I could. Away from the person I had become.
Since I have watched ‘Lord of the rings’ I wanted to travel to New Zealand, especially since I watched ‘Lord of the Rings’ for the first time. So I quit my job, my apartment, sold some stuff, brought some stuff to my parent’s house and went to the land of the long white cloud.
In the first days I just thought ‘What was I thinking? I’m not that brave. I can’t stay here for 6 months!’ Being all by myself on the other side of the world, far away from home – and any expectations.
My time in New Zealand changed me. I was impressed by the relaxing way of life and the kindness of the Kiwis. In those 6 months I recovered and promised myself that I would never work overly much again. I realized that there is more in life than work. And I found myself again!
Under all those layers of social expectations, I found myself again!
When I came back to Germany I was shocked. I had a cultural shock – in my own country. Everyone was just complaining about everything, everyone was rushing and stressed out. I didn’t feel comfortable anymore in my home country. Had I changed so much?
I realized that I had. But 6 months abroad were not long enough to change permanently. So I got back to old habits, starting to lose myself again. This time I knew what to do because I knew exactly what I wanted: I just wanted to get away from Germany, from the influence it had on me. I applied for a working holiday visa for Canada and got it. I quit my job (again), moved out of my apartment (again) and sold even more stuff.