Sunday, June 26, 2011

Connecting the dots looking back

Or, struggling to managing myself (part 2)

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite games was 'Job Agency' ('Uitzendbureautje' in Dutch). At the age of seven, I would help poor (imaginary) jobseekers find their perfect employment. I dragged all my friends along with me (try to imagine what their moms must have thought). I must have been inspired by a family friend who was actually paying for his philosophy studies by doing this - at a real job agency with real jobseekers though. I liked the idea of making someone happy by just linking them to a great job. Easy does it.
Sometimes I feel like am playing Uitzendbureautje all over again...

Later, together with a girlfriend, I expanded the scope of the agency to also include travel. She was crazy about the US and we would spend days speaking English (sort of). Yes, even at that age, the world was already luring. How come? Maybe it was because our house was always filled with guests. Alexandra, a friend of my mother, would come over and tell me about the journeys she made to make documentaries. An aunt from Italy visited and brought me il libero delle parole, a great book showing illustrations and its meanings in four languages. The American neighbors upstairs invited me for their parties, where I practiced my English (and learned about god. Hmm). A guy from Mali, whom my mom taught Dutch, came over to cook his local dish (which I recall not liking very much. Ha! Maybe that's why I haven't been to Africa yet!). For my (twelfth?) birthday I got a subscription to a beautiful glossy magazine about Indonesia (Archipel magazine). This was it! The rest is history (in short: I went to Indonesia when I was 14, studied Indonesian and just spent a year and a half in Jakarta).

An issue of Archipel magazine

Now that I am self-employed (or voluntarily unemployed) I take a lot of time to reflect. As Steve Jobs says, you can only connect the dots looking back. Now that I do, it all makes sense. I've always wanted to travel, write and help others. This now gives me the confidence to take a step into the unknown. In a way, I have always been a self-made woman: in primary school I was involved in the 'Montessori Democrats' (we didn't get a lot done though), wrote for the school paper and took part in a game show on TV. Also, I interviewed my favorite writer and wrote an article that was published in Primeur, a newspaper for kids. Somehow as a grownup we think we cannot just pick up the phone and ask our favorite writer for an interview. Isn't that a pity?

When I was a kid I hardly needed anyone to tell me what to do to stay busy, now I often wish for a manager. I now send reports to my friend Miriam, so she can check up on my progress. Most of all, I should trust that in ten years, I can again connect the dots. How about you, does your path makes sense when you look back? And how does that help you to move forward?

1 comment:

Marije Nederveen said...

wanna go for a coffee? I am at the same stage and no longer working for Aim for human rights as the organisation has ended (as we met at Kontras quite a long time ago). See

Always good to see other people's inspiration!