The new year is already one week old, but only now have I finally found the time to thoroughly review the past year. I have already done a small review in September, six months into the internship and after about half of us had already left Pune. I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, instead I found that looking back into the past year and at what worked and what didn’t is a much better way to figure out where you want to focus your energy in the next year.
For me, the past year was full of adventure, new experiences, new people, in a new country (a new continent even) and a new job. Of course the CCI wasn’t the only thing that happened, but those nine months were definitely the defining factor in my life this year. My whole life changed from one day to the other. It felt like one last, big adventure before the rest of my life begins, and as such, was both full of fun and joy and excitement, but I was also always aware that this year, my perfomance at my job and the decisions I make are going to influence the rest of my life. Last year, I had to ask myself again and again what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be even.
Looking back at 2015, I realized how important 2014 had actually already been for this journey I call my life. I spent a big part of 2014 working on “finding myself”, working on myself, and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life after graduation. I knew I wanted to work in an exciting and challenging job and that everything too monotonous would bore me quickly, but most importantly, I knew I really needed another adventure in my life, that I needed to leave Germany again for a while. I had always been chasing something, with my semester in Krakow and the road trip through the UK/Ireland, but never found what I was looking for. In 2014, I really started doing some soul-searching, and when I got the chance to go to India in December, I knew I had to take it. And I also knew that I had to make sure that this time, it meant something. Not just another temporary escape from whatever it was that I was running away from, this was my chance to really make a change in my life, I just had to grasp it.
The CCI was a tremendous opportunity for me in terms of both professional growth and personal development. Being thrown into this absolutely surreal situation of suddenly living and working in India with 11 strangers, spending almost every minute of my life with these people, sometimes felt more like a social experiment than an internship (and for someone as socially awkward as me, it was quite challenging). It was a rollercoaster ride, full of ups and downs, and being so far away from my usual “support system” I sometimes felt like I was drowning. I must have had an average of one mental breakdown per week, I could go from “on the top of the world” to “life is hell” in minutes. I surely went through some deep and extreme emotions at times, and more often than not failed to be the person I aimed to be and fell off the wagon on all the work I had accomplished in 2014. Some of the more obvious signs were that I started smoking again, sometimes stopped to work out for weeks and binged on fast food and sweets, but I also felt a lot more anxious, wired, depressed, angry, jealous and just plain tired than I wanted to. Sometimes I felt as emotionally stable as a 16–year old teenager again. Again and again I had to remind myself that this was not the person I wanted to be, and sometimes that worked for a while, but often I also failed. 2015 wasn’t perfect, but it was a perfect lesson. At the end of 2014, after finishing my MA, moving to Cologne, getting the internship, working out daily and eating almost completely clean, I felt invincible. Incredible India then definitely was a humbling experience. I have never felt more aware of my personal flaws and shortcomings than now, and as annoying, stressful and outright painful that can be, I am also grateful for it. Where 2015 was a year full of extremes, I hope 2016 brings some more balance. Interestingly enough, I accidentally found out that Pantone’s color of the year 2015 was Marsala, a vibrant, strong, deep, rich and passionate shade of dark red,
while the colors of the year 2016 will be the calm and quiet Rose Quartz and Serenity, a light pink and blue representing the balance between female and male, yin and yang.
I don’t think these colors could be a better representation of what 2015 was and 2016 hopefully will be for me if I had chosen them myself 🙂
Professionally, I had a chance to work in a position with a lot of responsibility for the first time in my life, and since I was also able to switch departments for the last few months, I now have a very good idea of what I want to do in the future. I am simply not made for jobs that require me to just follow orders without thinking, and as stressful and nerve-wrecking working in Project Management sometimes was, it was also exciting and I would never want to miss that again 🙂
Right from the beginning I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to Germany just yet, and in the end, I had to choose between a position in Chennai and London. I had dreamed of moving to London ever since I could think, but when I was given the chance, something didn’t feel right. They originally offered me to start working there in September, which was impossible because the internship would not end until November, and when I asked if there would still be a position in November/December I remember hoping that they would just say no. I can’t explain why, on the outside there was nothing wrong with the position, the team seemed awfully nice as well, but my gut was telling me something different. In the end, I still found myself choosing between London and Chennai in late October, and after going back and forth a billion times, I decided to go to Chennai. I could of course outline all the rational reasons for that decision, but in the end I’ll just use them to justify doing what my heart told me to do. Was it the right decision? I don’t know. Right now I’m doubting myself again. You know how they say that women subconsciously replace the pains of childbirth with happy memories of holding their baby in their arms for the first time and so on? I guess I must have completely deleted the painful memories of moving to India and dealing with Indian bureaucracy to replace them with memories of the Goan beaches and fresh coconuts and free fast food delivery (note to self: way less free fast food delivery in 2016!).
Right now, I’m still at my father’s place in a tiny village in the southwest of Germany, waiting for the next part of my life to begin. I don’t know anyone here, I don’t have friends here, there are no malls or parks or theaters and right now, our wifi is dead as well and even publishing blog posts is hell. Having grown up with my mom, I have never lived here before, and I certainly don’t feel at home here. I feel more like visiting distant relatives, except I’ve been here for almost two months already and I am positively going crazy. I can feel my mental health rapidly decline day by day, and I just cannot wait to live on my own again (or with some awesome flatmates again ;)). I sincerely mean it when I say I am waiting for the next part of my life to begin, because right now I barely even feel alive. I just need to be on my own, independent, going out into the world and doing, seeing, experiencing things.
In the end, I cannot wait to finally step off the plane in India again. I know it’ll take me about 5 minutes before I start haggling with a rickshaw driver or curse people’s supermarket-queue manners, but then there will also be the food and the smells and the colors and constant honking and somehow, everything will be alright again. Let me tell you, if you really want to find inner peace, you must go to India, because there you certainly won’t find any peace and quiet anywhere outside of yourself ;).