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).







Love is all

This Sunday we lost our first dog to a terrible accident. She had just turned 1 year old and was the liveliest dog we ever knew. We rescued her from a bad environment. She literally jumped into my arms and didn’t let go until we arrived in our apartment. The first weeks she was incredibly scared and only felt safe with us. With patience she grew into a great dog, happy, trained. Her favourite thing in the world was to run and play fetch and we did that with her every day, sometimes for hours. I know that she had the best time of her life with us and loved us dearly.

Her death was an accident that took her life within seconds. It was a walk and play like every day, when she suddenly ran out of the park onto the street. I wasn’t there but was called right away. When I arrived (in my bathrobe, after jumping out of the shower) I could only hold her dead body and comfort my boyfriend who had been there and broke down, still screaming for an ambulance. I talked to the people who had seen everything and called my parents, asking them to drive to us so we could burry her in their garden. I stayed calm until we had made it back to the apartment before the initial shock passed and it hit me. How could this have happened? How could the same dog that had woken me up that morning and snuck up to my pillow be gone?

I’ve been through quite some misfortunes in my life. Cancer, eating disorders, depression, illnesses, loss – but none of that had an impact this hurtful. Even though I wasn’t there, a feeling of guilt keeps creeping into my thoughts. What if I had been there? Could I have stopped her? The worst thought of all being that she had trusted us in all matters, loved us unconditionally and we failed at protecting her. Spending every day with an animal grows a bond only other animal owners will understand. Seeing a scared puppy turn into a confident dog is one of the proudest feelings I have ever known. Seeing that same soul go – especially if it’s way too soon – tears you apart in such an extent, that it can never fully heal.

In February, after dog-sitting another dog and seeing how much our dog loved playing with her, we adopted that dog as well. Since then I have only known the two of them together. Now I look at our second dog and see emptiness beside her and it breaks my heart. I love her dearly, but we got her based on our first dog. A companion. She was not supposed to ever be alone. Now all three of us have to get used to that idea.

Studies show, that loosing a pet triggers the same stages of grief as loosing a relative or friend. For me this means that I can’t eat properly and even thinking of sleep scares me, as that’s when the pain is the worst. Seeing other dogs makes me sad and I can’t go to the places we used to walk with her or meet the same dogs we used to meet. It’s hard to do daily tasks, to keep up the routine and to look into the future. I feel lucky that we are moving back to Stockholm in less than two weeks because everything here reminds me of her. Then again, every time I will walk by the water at our new home I know that I will feel incredibly sad because she would have loved it there.

We all deal with grief differently. I try to isolate myself, don’t want to be close to anyone and become very quiet. Writing helps me to clear my thoughts and stay sane. It fills me up with the joy of productiveness, a small help against the hovering feeling of emptiness. The internet is full of guides about how to deal with (pet) loss, but what I found most comforting was to read other people’s stories. Many of them speed up their healing process by getting a new dog and eventually are able to look back happily, cherishing the memories of their former pet. It gives me hope that I will reach that point someday myself.