How to tackle uncertainty ?

“My life is so pointless.”

I was walking around in the farmlands surrounding where I’m staying when my phone went off with the message. The message was from a friend who’d just passed her end of year exams – intuitively, she should be celebrating.

I asked her: “What’s wrong? Didn’t you do well and graduate?”

She said yes, except now she feels that her life is pointless because all of her energy is not focused on achieving passing grades but completely dispersed in “overwhelming uncertainty”.

I told her I knew the feeling. I mean, aren’t we all a little lost at times?

Except then she went on and start listing all the reasons why she’s worrying. She didn’t believe she had any other skills or abilities other than the ones she’s just graduated with and the world is a big and scary place.

I told her to pause for a second and reread what she just wrote me and asked her: “well yes, but where did you gain your skills? Didn’t you gain them by actively pursuing goals, whether through fear of ‘what-if’ or genuine “interest” in getting better at whatever you were pursuing.”

Plus, how did she know she was only ‘good’ at the skills she thought she was good at. I told her it’s also important to develop other interests and expose herself to new experiences so she’ll be inspired to take on new challenges that made sense for her.

I told her, I’m the same. I don’t particularly know what I want to do yet but everyday I’m trying something new, even if it’s pondering on an idea from another perspective – trying to come up with new solutions to problems even if that makes me improve only marginally – and if the next day I come up with an even better solution then I’ll scrap the last idea and implement the new.

And then I told her. I’m just as scared as she was of the future, but that’s no reason to freeze in fear. What am I actually doing in foreign lands rather than staying put in comfort? It’s because I see potential – whether it be being scared out of my elements and come up with something new to adapt. I see the freedom to make mistakes and I can’t and won’t judge myself harshly for them, because I’d have no idea how things work in the first place.

But the most important part of this all is in knowing that I had changed my circumstances, whether be it good, or bad.

I’m throwing myself in the face of change and changing how I want to be.

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What does it mean to have a goal ?

“Don’t waste time.”

“Don’t stop until you get there.”

“Ignore everything else.”

These three things are what I’m gearing up to when I return home mid-June. I already know there are a billion things I must deal with when I get back, and I know that while I’d rather not, it is necessary.

I know full well that if I don’t deal with what’s really bothering me back home then I’d never have the chance to move forward fully and that is true with every other problem.

One cannot flee from what is bothering them if the bother follows after.

It is necessary to deal with the current, put that in the past and then never look back again.

If the premise is not met, then the chapter is half written – unfinished.

Therefore the gap, even when the chapter is finished, will come back and haunt you.

The only way to prevent this from happening is go back and put an end to the storyline that no longer serves the overall story but wastes ink all the same.

Go back and close that chapter.

So you can be fully prepared to start a new one.

Having a goal meaning have a vision, a purpose, and not stopping, until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Amsterdam: The perfect city and what it all means.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be out and about in Amsterdam once more. One might expect it was all a fairytale moment, with the sun peeking through the clouds and the birds singing and in the distance there’s Prince Charming galloping on his steed to meet me…or something along the lines of that.

It wasn’t as if I haven’t anticipated this moment enough.

Stepping off from the train at Centraal, I was excited. But I was also aware that it was dark, gloomy, and raining. There has been several thunderstorms over the weekend in the place I’m staying, just a little under an hour away. So, I wasn’t exactly expecting any different. Oh and of course, it was also windy as hell.

Shitty weather? Check.

Still, I was excited as ever.

After all, I was here in April? Hah.

I skipped off the train and headed into the city. The central station is as I remembered, as is everything else – except it was covered up all in a shade of clammy greyness from the weather – I went ahead and started to run errands in the city I was just reacquainted with, then I found a work-cafe I’d been eyeing online and went there to caffeinate, followed by some shopping and then some post-shopping falafel eating at one of my favourite falafel places before going home.

It was a very productive day indeed. Then I went home and turned on social media, seeing posts from my friends back home tagging familiar places which I don’t miss – it was as if seeing those places gave me more motivation to work hard to get out (oddly to the inner monologue of Rose in Titanic, “the same boring people, the same boring endless conversations until eternity.” ) And that’s exactly what I DON’T want in life.

And yesterday, I realized, it’s gonna take a lot more work to achieve just what I want, but also a city doesn’t have to be perfect – the reasons why you think a city is perfect, or perfect for you, is at your discretion. After all we give meaning to the narrative in our heads. What makes sense to us internally might not make sense to others externally. Yet, if that narrative in your head gives you purpose, then it is up to you to give that purpose a go and see where it leads.

Because really, what is life?

Is it destiny?

Is it destination?

The true meaning of: “enjoy every second”

And so today is a new day – yesterday is gone.

I expressed myself to a friend and she recommended me a short story to read. The whole thing took about an hour for me to read, switching in-between Facebook chats and the story. I’ve come to appreciate how small and insignificant we are – and how some small and insignificant things can hurt so much.

Saying get over it is easy.

But actually getting over it is a different story.

You could say a few days ago – there was a certain news that served as a wakeup call and shoved me back to face the question:

“Just what are you doing with your life?”

“Just where do you want to be?”

I still can’t tell you 100% what the end results would be, but I’m at least 100% sure that I have the tools to make it so.

So until then. I’m going to enjoy every second of it, since being anything but ‘awesome’ is a grand waste of time.

 

What am I doing here?

Life is a journey. It’s never about the place you find yourself in, if you know where you’re going to next.

I’d scribbled this down in a journal while sitting on a train. After stopping by in various European cities again, I’d began to understand this concept. It isn’t about where you are in life – as there is a common denominator in the way of life no matter which continent, which country, which city you find yourself in. However, what can be distinguished is your ambitions and desires – what can be distinguished is your desire to be somewhere, and how that plays into your personal growth.

Everyday is a journey. Everyday is a lesson.

You’ll never know how much you could handle until you’re caught in the situation.

Life is about moving forward.

Life is about managing disappointments and soldiering on.

Life is also about doing all those things that scare you and not playing it safe.

Life is about savouring the moments.

Life is about following intuitions.

Life is about being open to opportunities.

There are times where I’m scared and I doubt, times I’d rather pull the cover over my head and wish everything away – but then I tell myself – where is the fun in that?

Already on this trip, there are times I think it would be so much easier if I just stayed in North America but then, I also wouldn’t have realized things as I realize them now – or be as willing to work for things as I am now.

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The things you take for granted, someone else is wishing for

I didn’t know what I expected when I found myself back in Amsterdam.

Though there were things on my to-do list, I had very little expectations in the process of crossing them off – in the beginning, there wasn’t all that much motivation. Not really, for one reason or another, I was hoping my love for this city would wane over time (wouldn’t that be easier? If I had nothing to try for? ).

However, Amsterdam, a city I’ve had the pleasure of visiting for almost half a dozen time now, looks as gorgeous as ever.

I’m lucky, it didn’t stop being sunny since I got here, my friend tells me. And I reply that I have great timing. Every single time.

Between chic cafe visits and photography, I had time to squeeze in a date on the patio. It was one of the most memorable dates I’ve had, not just as of late, but kind of in the Top 3 category, though I know I shouldn’t really give it too much weight or meaning, even though I just did.

Yes.

And it’s more than just that.

It’s kind of the bits and pieces of everything that comes into the peripheral and into my consciousness. It’s the bits and pieces of everything that remind me how life could be, if not a blurry outline of what I already know I want…

Yes.

It all then became a reaffirmation.

That I was standing in my own way, dithering away, telling myself I shouldn’t, even though everything else points to I should.

I tell myself it’s not a big deal.

I tell myself I don’t want to see you again.

I tell myself a lot of things.

Then in a crowd, I always look for you.

And when my mind’s blank, it always drifts back to you.

Even though I tell myself that’s not what I want.

And it loops.

Amsterdam.

 

How I unconsciously quit Instagram (for now).

It was the other day, when I was rushing through my day, I realized, something wasn’t popping up on the top of my phone. No notifications other than emails? That’s odd. Then I realized. I had logged out of Instagram that one night and haven’t gone back on since.

Then life went on.

Oh.

It’s true that social media has grown exponentially in the past ten years, and now we have all forms of it, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Vine etc. you name it – it’s like a never ending share-athon of ideas and information. There’s of course entertainment value to be had from Social Media, but increasingly, there’s a pressure for young people, or even professionals to keep up with the ‘Social Media’ game.

“Are you on SnapChat? Twitter?”

Say no and expect a look of disappointment from the person who’d just asked you the question, and feel a sense of FOMO – am I missing something out by not being on those platforms?

Cue to downloading the app and trying it out for yourself, then spending hours on it.

But the point is, I fail to keep up either way.

Instagram is one of my favourite apps – it is always highly inspirational to see what my favourite photographers are doing on that app and highly inspirational to see sights from all over the world – however, now, that I am not traveling – I have 0 new content to contribute and 0 inspirations – rather than sobbing over a case of FOMO, I logged out to focus on the present – which currently requires more time and energy than I have to expend.

Between your professional life and your personal life, there is now a third ‘life’.

Your ‘social media life’, your ‘digital footprint’, ‘virtual persona’ – does it really reflect who you are as a person? Somewhat. But that’s a topic for another time. Currently, I only have time for ‘professional life’ anything personal is kept to a minimum and anything virtual is virtually nonexistent.

 

happiness is not getting what you want

“That moment when you see a photo, without even reading the location tag, you know exactly where it is. You find yourself smiling for the first time in a month and all that stress magically disappears.”

So yes, without a doubt, that’s exactly what happened when I saw the feature photo of this post. I knew exactly where it was without question. And I knew that I was due for a return trip. Really.

However, I like to think I’m less reckless than before.

As I’ve summarized, the work over here while my heart is over there strategy doesn’t work…neither does the work over here and visit once, twice, or even three times a year. The more I think about it, the more I realize I need a different strategy, one that is sustainable in the long-run. Because, let’s face it, as wonderful as the city is, Amsterdam is notoriously expensive. Most of the friends I have in the Netherlands either live somewhere outside of the city centre itself, or in a different city altogether.

Amsterdam is a city for tourists.

I’d remembered my Dutch professor once mention, “to get a real feel of the Netherlands, one must venture outside of Amsterdam, in order get a real taste of Dutch culture.”

And that’s exactly what I did in December. I stayed in Utrecht, instead of Amsterdam, and was pleasantly surprised. It was very different from the capital that never sleeps.

So then, the question becomes, what sort of experience am I trying to create, what sort of life am I trying to cultivate – then it becomes a question of ‘lifestyle’ rather than about ‘Amsterdam’ – what is it about the city that makes me want to go back every single time I’m idle enough to daydream.

And this made me think.

“Amsterdam is not merely a place, it’s a symbol of freedom, symbol of things I seek. There’s always open doors and opportunities for you to explore, things for you to enjoy. It’s in that environment you want to explore, cultivate relationships and meaning.”

Then now on happiness.

“Happiness is not getting what you want, but rather coming up with a functional strategy on how to support your long term goals, regardless where that might be.”

 

Happiness is when I’m under my travel budget!

Last night I did some number crunching and I’m happy to report that I’m below budget, even though I have not been too ‘restricting’ with my travel plans, in fact, this year I thought I’d go try out first class seats on trains – since I’m going to be on them a lot – hence, I splurged on those train rides, some which also include meals, thank you Swedish rails and DB Bahn! Oh and train vs. plane? It all depends on how much luggage you have and whether you’d like to sit down and enjoy the view, or get somewhere really fast. I’m hoping that I’d get some work done while on the train – which are promised to have WiFi connection.

That aside, I’ve been somewhat frugal with my stays again – the rooms I’ve booked on average are all below 100 Euros (though I know for some this number might seem a little high – but I’m a firm believer in mix and matching where it counts) and all of the places I’ve booked comes with breakfast included – which means, stuffing my face during the AM really and going out exploring for the rest of the day (to which I can already imagine how sore my legs will be) but then there will also be a lot of street food, and oh god, BEERS, yes more beer, bier, biertje, öl, øl consumed…haha, now how many languages is that?

Also another tip is prepay everything. I don’t mean pre-pay in a huge lump sum before your trip – no. I mean, incorporate your travels into your monthly bill – like for the plane tickets I’ve booked are already paid off months ahead of time. And that’s a very freeing feeling because now I only have to take care of the other 2/3 portion before my trip which gives me wiggle room for…

You guessed it.

More beers with friends!!!!

(And if I’m really adventurous, an extra city during my visit this time! Stay tuned!)

One-upping high rental prices, how to pay less and still get to be in Amsterdam!

Just when you thought I’d break my budget to be in Amsterdam for a week?

Hah.

Nope.

I’ve got a solution for this and it’ll cut the projected cost of $1000+ to at least 1/2 of that and still be comfortable. How would I do this without crashing on the couches of friends and or sleeping for half of the week on the streets? The answer lies in the unique geography of The Netherlands. You see, the Netherlands has a landmass of 41,526 km², which is relatively tiny – when you compare it to the State of California, which has a landmass of 423,970 km² which is more than 10x the size of the entire country itself.

Hence, I’ve decided to use this fact to my advantage – why would I need to actually be in Amsterdam, when I could just look for rentals in a nearby town that’s about half an hour to Amsterdam itself. It’s still very ‘central’ given my North American expectations – if a commute doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, then it’s very convenient for me, and even if the commute takes more than 30 minutes but less than 60 minutes, it’s still reasonable, given the money I’d safe – and of course, let’s not forget, I can actually say I’ve seen more of the Netherlands than ‘just’ Amsterdam… which according to a previous professor I’ve had in school from Holland – “Amsterdam is not representative of true Dutch culture at all. You have to go out of Amsterdam to explore!”

So there you have it – I will go out to ‘explore’ this time, as I have more incentives to! And make sure to take a bunch of wonderful images to share!