The Quarter Life Crisis

Finishing my master’s program, moving from one country to another and applying for jobs has kept me busy over the past few months. Before all of this started, I had a few weeks time to breathe in December and January. Back then I was not in a good place. I was insecure what I (really) wanted and felt like I was cheating myself. A classic case of quarter life crisis.

Let’s be honest here: Most of us give up our childhood dreams sometime during high school or a few months after graduation. We give up crazy dreams of becoming Indiana Jones (in my case) for a safer and more suitable career. We realize that we’re probably not going to substantially change the world (or in my case, find the Ark of Testimony) and try to find happiness in a more realistic approach to things. And although we grow up and with that accustom to our not-so-dreamy future life, this feeling keeps creeping up.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy with my choice of study. I’m really really really good at what I do. I get to be creative, analytical and strategical (all of which are among my favorite ways to think) and usually get to see quick results of my work. It was a lucky choice for me to go from engineering to business and later marketing. It combines what I’m good at and what I like to do. I believe that for personalities like me who are literally on the edge between introvert and extrovert, marketing is a great field to work in.

But then there are these certain situations. When somebody asks you what you do for a living and wrinkle his or her nose when you reply marketing. Because that’s not special, it’s not glamorous, or directly making the world a better place. In my experience, marketing and sales is associated with superficiality and not-so-smart people. Every time this happens to me, I feel like I have to defend myself (and the whole field for that matter); tell the opposite person, that my IQ is among the top few percent of population, that I’m an ace in math and that marketing can certainly also make the world better (no cancer researcher would get funding without it). But this weird feeling stays behind. This feeling of not living up to a certain potential. Of doing something “everybody thinks is easy”.

Maybe I should have tried to become Indiana Jones. I would have probably failed hardcore, but people would have appreciated the spirit. “Living the dream.” Then again, what is it that 5-year-old Nicole liked so much about becoming an archeologist? I thought about this for a while (while listening to The Velvet Underground, highly recommended for this kind of thinking) and came to the conclusion, that Indiana Jones is awesome, because he’s smart and badass and especially not afraid to take risks for his beliefs. He’s also stubborn and proud, something I think more people should be when it comes to fighting for their ideas and ideals.

Reflecting on all of this, I realize that I’m not that far away from Indiana Jones after all. I consider myself to be pretty badass, especially in fighting through the lows but also in using the highs to improve instead of staying still. I can be stubborn when it comes to fighting for an idea. And then there’s one more thing: Indiana Jones is charming. It’s a main driver to his success. You can be sharp as a knife, but if you’re not charming, nobody will believe in you. And that’s why Indiana Jones would be great in marketing. And it’s also why I’m in marketing. You can excite people for an idea and then actually execute it. It’s awesome. It’s not easy at all. You actually have to have good ideas and be able to communicate them.

So, I’m not really giving up my childhood dream. It just looks a bit different. This realization is more important than you might think. Finishing up studies, a major chapter in life, can be pretty scary. You ask yourself a bunch of substantial questions. You’re scared. You’re insecure. You question life’s purpose, your own purpose. You question your wants and beliefs. It can be tough. It can be depressing, especially as most of us don’t know where and as what they’re going to work in the near future. It’s important to stay confident in yourself and what you chose to do. Starting off your career will still give you many possibilities to change and develop new passions, as well es fulfill old dreams. So reflect, believe in your choices and be patient (for now).

 

 

 

 

 

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The Minimalist Wardrobe: Workwear

Depending on your field of work, you may feel pressured to have several different dressing options on hand. If you work in a representative role, dressing appropriately is essential and the same may apply to sectors like finance or legal. Even if you have a classic office role, fashionable colleagues can urge you to keep up with your outfits. But how do you do that without buying new pieces every few weeks? Here’s how.

Capsule is key – Start an office capsule wardrobe. This concept has become a popular trend recently. Originating in France, this concept stands for choosing a certain amount of pieces each season that mix and match (almost) perfectly with each other. By picking the right pieces, endless combinations are possible. Sounds easy, but in reality it takes months to years of dedication to perfect this system for your whole wardrobe. I recommend these ladies for help: Alli, Christine, Meg.

One by one – However, incorporating the capsule wardrobe concept for the workwear part of your wardrobe isn’t that hard. Here’s how I did it: I picked 3 blazers that are very different in style (I have a classic black one with small dots, a light pink one and a grey one with pinstripes.) Then I picked 4 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, 3 blouses, 2 cardigans and 3 long sleeve shirts. If you differentiate between office and non-office shoes add these too. Now, besides trying to pick only a few items each, the key is to have one core item that everything else matches with. For me the blazers are the core item. All other items match with at least 2 of my blazers. Now this sounds easy in theory, but I highly recommend trying on all outfits at home. Just because it looks good in your head, doesn’t mean it will actually convince in reality.

Switch it up – Now you may agree that focussing on mix and match is a great concept to stay organized and somewhat stylish, but there’s still the problems mentioned above like keeping up with trendy colleagues and not looking too simple. Having a limited amount of fashion options gives you room to try something else with complimenting style aspects such as your hair, makeup or jewellery. If you feel like you’ve been sticking mainly to a few of your capsule styles, force yourself to not wear them for a week or two. If you feel too uncomfortable with other styles, switch out an item or two before the next season.

Seasons – As mentioned earlier, the capsule wardrobe concept encourages switching out items every season. This is not only to have weather appropriate clothes, but also gives you the possibility to incorporate some new styles, change your colour palette or reduce the capsule overall. After some getting used to, four occasions a year will feel completely sufficient to re-evaluate your wardrobe.

The Testrun – Don’t jump into your capsule wardrobe instantly. Test out the concept for a while. Pick one item and try to wear it for a few days, styling it differently. I recommend a cardigan or blazer for this, as they are harder to adjust to than a pair of basic pants or a blouse – and the testing phase should challenge you. A less basic item will force you to go through your closet more thoroughly, looking for matching items. This leads to a better overview, which of course is essential to pick the right pieces for your final capsule.

Of course this system doesn’t only work for the office, but any other part of your wardrobe. Having a secure dressing base for your professional life can take away a lot of morning hassle and help you gain confidence plus focus on more important things (like what’s for lunch?) – Enjoy!