Back To Where I Came From

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Most of my recent blog posts have been about writing. Writing, reading and everything around it have been recurring themes on this blog because much of December and January has focused around writing – lucky for me! 

At the same time, though, life keeps on happening and therefore this post is more about the other things that are going on around my writing: thoughts about my future, both the near and far ones.

When we began our travels in the end of July six months ago, we had been saving money for a few years to do this trip. That money allowed us a completely different kind of freedom and the opportunity to see what the rest of the world is up to. We got to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and then to New Zealand. It has been a rollercoaster ride.

But now it’s time to give up that freedom. The money that was saved has been used well – and as we’re starting to run short on it, it’s time to find ways to make money again.

To find out that solution is far from easy.

It isn’t only about finding work but it’s also about where to find it and what it is I want to do. What happens after our trip comes to an end? What happens when you give up the kind of freedom we’ve grown used to during this past year?

Finding Meaningful Work Isn’t Easy

In June, I wrote about my thoughts on graduating. I wrote that there’s a harsher reality waiting for me when I give up the freedom of being a student, but that I’m ready for that.

When writing it, I felt it to be true. I guess I still do, but nevertheless, taking on another new chapter feels daunting. I’m doing it, for real this time: trying to find a job, an apartment, not rely on study subsidies or student discounts anymore. It’s real. But at times, finding a job feels overwhelming and causes feelings of anxiety.

I haven’t had too many good work experiences. Either it’s because I’m picky or because the working world as such isn’t, well, working. I’ve had my share of shitty shifts, bad bosses, ugly work atmospheres and unrealistic or unnecessary work assignments.

Time after time, I thought I’d like to work as this or that, only to realize it wasn’t for me. And now I’m supposed to be on the job market again, finding myself work that hopefully will be better than my previous experiences. But what kind of job? Is there someone out there looking for a fiction writer to their company? I could be that person!

What? No? Okay. I guess I have to find something else.

It’s a strange feeling to go through different work ads and realize that you don’t want to “build your career” in any of those companies. I’m not passionate about selling and making profit – but our society runs on consumerism. I’m not eager to deal with customer care unless I’m really passionate about what I’m doing. I want to work with something that feels meaningful, that truly matters to me – but the current working world doesn’t seem to offer too many solutions.

It feels like so much weight is put on the employee and how one fits in the company but not so much on the company itself and it’s way of doing thing.

It’s essential to me to feel that the people working in a place are aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it and are willing to give their best – just as I will if I work there. More often than not, however, it seems like the boss who is supposed to be there for us employees and help us do our job well doesn’t know what he or she is doing or isn’t motivated to do his or her job well.

There is no such thing as a perfect work environment, that I know – but there are good opportunities to create a great work environment. It simply requires conscious effort.

So, maybe I’m picky, maybe I know what I want. Fine. But where to find that right kind of job?

The Language I Speak

For now, I have found two work ads that resonated with me and sounded like worth giving an opportunity to. I’m hoping to hear from them in a month or so. And this brings me to the next thing on my mind – both jobs are situated in Finland.

So, partly this post is about finding a job – but it’s also about where that seeking seems to take me.

We left Finland to find something better abroad, a different and maybe a more suitable culture. We both honestly thought we would be better off somewhere else.

But lately, as I’ve been thinking about working over and over, my mind leads me back to the land of forests and a thousand lakes. It’s because of my writing.

Not including this blog, I write mostly in Finnish. My journal entries, my fan fiction and my novels are all written in Finnish, a language spoken by approximately five million people living in this world.

The thing is, reading and writing are my greatest strengths, and these strengths have the best opportunity to succeed in Finland. Therefore, it would be in my interest to live in Finland to make a career out of writing. Right?

But I’m not homesick.  I don’t, per se, miss my social life or the Finnish food and culture so much that I would love to be back. I can see myself finding a nice yoga studio, the perfect writing environment, an active lifestyle somewhere else. In another Nordic country, perhaps.

I have no officially serious reason to go back. But because of my strengths in my own language, I’m drawn to my home country. I’m most likely to succeed on my career – if I get back to Finland and stay there.

It bugs me because it feels like my freedom to choose is being cut. At the same time, I’m curious to see what can come out of it. I have these ideas about my own small company, focused on writing and reading, and all my hopes for my author career – and I know the best place to make them happen is in Finland.

Our time on this trip has given form to these thoughts and it feels like the right time to try finding the paths to realising them.

But just to get back to where we got started – if I’m in a country I really don’t have a need to be in and I’m starting out with work that I might not even want to do and that might end up in another disappointment, where will that lead me? Will I still be able to hold on to all my ideas about writing?

So many questions, so few answers.

So, to sum up this blog post: I’m thinking about a lot of things, mostly about the future of work and where it will take me. I’m optimistic about the fact that things have a tendency to find their way. Things will work out. And hopefully something good will come of it – if I get to choose, that good will have to do with writing.

Thoughts From Toothbrushing

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We hopped onboard a sailing vessel one weekend. It was a boat we knew from before – an old, unique sailboat that was first used for sailboat racing, then turned into a vessel that was the home for a couple that sailed around the world three times during a time period of twenty years. Now the boat is owned by the nephew of that couple, whom we had learned to know through our common interest in films and photography.

It was nice to be back on that boat. We didn’t put too much pressure on the sailing part and enjoyed life instead, staying in harbor when it rained and taking long mornings if we felt like it. On the second morning, which unfortunately was our last morning (this only being a weekend trip) I felt a satisfying sensation while brushing my teeth on the island we had stayed that night.

A thought came along with that satisfaction: I could do this for a longer time.

Fight Or Flight – But What Does It Mean?

Lately, I’ve been feeling restless. As if I’m waiting for something to happen, waiting that time when I’m able to take the next step, move on to the next phase. I feel unsatisfied with what I have and think that there has to be more to this life, there has to be a place or a way of life that won’t leave me feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. And it isn’t the first time I’m feeling like this. It’s a feeling that reaches me regularly – and it isn’t really a nice feeling.

I haven’t figured out yet what it means exactly. I do know it means I’m not satisfied with what I have at the moment – but what I don’t know is if I’m reacting to the feeling in the right way? Up until now, my solution has often been moving from one city to another or making changes in career plans. But it feels like I’m escaping rather than taking the action that is needed.

It’s like the classic situation of fight or flight. I know how the flight part goes – but what about the fight? How do I fight these feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction and how do I overcome them?

Usually these feelings disappear for a few months after I’ve moved to a new city or when I start a new job or continue my studies after some sort of break, i.e. after a change. But they always come back, suggesting a change: move to another apartment, quit this and start that, change this.

And I wonder, for how long can I manage this feeling of restlessness? When will I finally find what my gut feeling is looking for? When will I find something that keeps the uneasy feelings away for good?

The Search For Alternatives

So, as I was washing my teeth on that island and the rays of early sun reaching towards me through the pine forest, I thought how wonderful it would be to wake up in a new place every few weeks, look at a map and consider the alternatives for the day. Check the wind and weather forecast and adjust my plans according to the observations.

My days would go by sailing and maintaining the boat, cooking food, being creative, discovering things and always pushing myself outside my own comfort zone. Because sailing would be just that – always adjusting, always trying to find new creative or better ways to do things and see something that is so different from what I’ve experienced for the past 24 years.

A camper van could have the same effect, so I might consider it as an alternative as well. But after a few road trips I’d still have to say that nothing beats the fascinating physics of sailing, the gentle rocking of a vessel on anchor and, if the weather’s warm, taking a morning swim in the sea from your backyard (that is, the cockpit).

Reality Check

I have enjoyed my thoughts on full-time sailing for the past few weeks, letting them take over the realities of life for now. But I’m aware that buying a boat isn’t an alternative at the moment, neither is a camper van.

Instead, I’m in the final year of my Master’s Degree, determined to finish my studies. The thesis-writing will begin the next week. After that my plans will be more open for other alternatives. Which means I’ll keep on floating on those gentle waves of dreams, but trying to keep the balance with the things that are in my power at the moment.

One question remains – how to keep myself going until that day of graduation comes and I can start figuring out the next step? How to keep those feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction at bay, and what are the things I can do right now to keep calm and focus on what’s important at the moment?

The only thing that comes to my mind is that I need to keep on writing. Holding on to the hours that I can write fiction or blog posts, and in that way keep the dream alive while focusing on something else for a moment. After all, nine months (the time I’ve planned to dedicate for my thesis) is only a short period of time in the life of a human being.