“Comparison is the thief of joy”

– Mark Twain.

A conversation I’ve recently had with my boyfriend, made me reflect a little on my life aspirations. I grew up in a family where the absence of money was always an issue, I saw how my parents really struggled to get us by and how it wore both of them down. Because of that, I was taught from early on to look at friends whose parents had more money and to understand that their families were happier than mine because of that.

And that’s what growing up entails! We all have experienced things in our childhood that put us down in some way or another and that have shaped our aspirations. Some of us want to earn a lot of money because we didn’t have any growing up, some of us want to break free and travel around the world because we’re sick of our parents telling us what to do with our lives. Some of us are put down by our skin color, through subconscious discrimination; boys by locker room conversations, girls by pictures in magazines.

So we become insecure, which leads to viewing ourselves in terms of others—their accomplishments and habits, their wealth and their happiness. We compare.

Well, let’s compare. On social media, I post about traveling to Hawaii for business or instagram a picture of a “casual Friday night team outing” where me and my colleagues just have a blast. Or that birthday party in that hip beach bar where we all look young and successful and accomplished. From the outside, it probably looks like my whole life is just one hell of an opportunity- I have my own company credit card, am traveling for business, am being forecasted a managerial position in the medium run. If others compared themselves to me based on the above, the conclusion might be that I am on a promising career path and very lucky. When I compare myself to others, I see them being happier, more fulfilled and more excited about their jobs and I get jealous.

I am starting to realize though that I can’t compare myself to others because: I’m not them. I don’t have their mind or experiences or life, so why should I care if I’m earning just as much money as them or wear the same clothes they have? Why should I envy them for being passionate about their jobs, for having projects that are a matter of heart not money, for living in the moment? The spectrum of my perception, experience and existence should begin and end with me. It shouldn’t matter what others do or what they have.

Sure, others have more advantages or opportunities than you, but that’s their life, and it doesn’t apply to yours. Sure, your life could be better, but anyone’s life could be better. And even more than that, things could be worse.

And so, instead of looking around me to make sure I’m “on track for the career” I should focus on maximizing my situation, and what I have been given in life.

Finally, on the question of the people you are jealous of—do they suffer? Are they happy? Everyone suffers. No one is perfect. Everyone loses both parents. Everyone sees something they worked towards fail. Living is going through pain. Everyone’s life is simply normal to them, and full of both happy moments and sad ones. We need to remember though that we are behind the wheel. Where we go, how fast we go and what route we take to get there doesn’t matter, as long as we go! And I’m gonna try to do just that, instead of complaining about not being where I want to be while everyone around me seems to.

 

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One-Way Ticket

My first time of ever buying a one-way ticket was pretty much a year ago. It took me from Hamburg to London to Los Angeles and, finally, to San Francisco. I booked it with that bittersweet feeling of not knowing what to expect. Yet, it was the best thing I had ever done for myself. I knew it was my life, my journey, my way of starting over and I took the stir wheel once again. Booking a one-way ticket is a very liberating way of taking control while, at the same time, entering uncontrollable terrain. You should give it a thought!

Then, I arrived in San Francisco and fell in love. With a city. With a state. With a boy. With housemates that became more like my host family. With new places I got to see. Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, Yosemite, L.A, Stinson Beach, the Redwoods, Santa Cruz, Vegas, The Grand Canyon…

I also changed. From the outside, I became tanned and happy. I surfed and I meditated and I tried Yoga and Kambucha and Kale Chips. From the inside, I became my own best friend, a little more confident in myself and a little more determined in what I wanted my life to look like. And, overall, I was -am- very fulfilled and happy. But, after almost a year, my studies are nearing an end. Being here on a student visa, I had one shot at finding a job related to my field of study. It was either that or going home, without knowing if I ever were able to get such an opportunity again. I wasn’t ready to go back yet, I knew that my U.S. journey was not over. So I worried and applied and reached out and really really tried.

Yesterday, I got a job. I will be staying in the US for at least another year with the prospect of being sponsored for a long-term work visa after. I felt like Will Smith in the final scene of “The Pursuit of Happyness” – which happens to take place in San Francisco as well, actually. So, I guess, that’d be the part in a movie where the main characters wander down a street, off into the distance. Or where a book would end. But I am nowhere near finished, I am so excited for what lies ahead of me. I will be starting my first real job at a tech start-up here in San Francisco. I want to finally get my drivers license, regardless of how recklessly dangerous those damn hills in town may be. I want to go surf on the weekends and get good at it. I want to continue living my life, see the things I never thought I’d see and keep on laughing and being happy. I will celebrate another Thanksgiving and another Halloween, will yet once more live through SF’s seasons (“sunny” and “foggy”) and keep meeting new people. So, for all you followers- stay tuned! I will continue with my San Francisco updates and I hope you are just as excited about that as I am.

For now, I will use Rowling’s words: All is well. All is more than well!

Cheers,

Ari

Pride and Prejudice…

“So this is your opinion of me. Thank you for explaining so fully. Perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honesty… “
” My pride?” 
“…in admitting scruples about our relationship. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?” 
“And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry”- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813

I don’t know if any of you have read that book or watched one of the countless movie versions? Personally, I have always believed that this story might be quite cute and adorable and Austen-style revolutionary for her time but so full of cliché-cheesiness that I never actually believed in that kind of stuff. But over the last few weeks the long-hoped-for “up” followed the down-period that I was facing a little while ago.

Life on campus is always fast-paced. Things come with a big BAM and before you know what you are dealing with, it’s gone again. Lately, I was reminded of that again. It took me five days to encounter my very own, personal Pride-and-Prejudice-story. Not only did I get into a situation that I had never dreamed of getting myself into but also did I learn that first judgements are very barely accurate. I dare say that I am a person who is farely good in understanding people fast BUT, and I know I gotta work on that, I also know that once I get a very negative impression of someone I am not bothered trying to discover other sides. Simply because there are so many other people around me that I like from the start, so why would I waste valuable resources trying to tickle some potentially nice sides out of someone ? Well. Sometimes, you should do exactly that. I’m sure you all have had encounters with people that, when you first meet them, completely intimidate you. In Germany, public universities are perfectly sufficient for good education and only the very rich kids are willing to pay extra for a little “(priv)” behind the university’s name. The only reason that I will have one of those is thanks to a mix of luck and maybe a bit of talent. However, since we have this situation in Germany, you associate a certain sort of people with private universities. Equipped with confidence, money and all the latest Apple products, this species of college student works its way up the carrier letter and usually also gets what it wants. It is top-down, arrogant, smart and surrounded by its equals. Hence, its not a group I would ever count myself to….But maybe I was judging to fast? Maybe there is more to people than their first appearance, however stereotypical it might be?  Even if you are sure that this person belongs to a certain category, does this mean that he or she fulfills all characteristics of this category? No, it does not, as I have learned.

Some time ago, I wrote about insecurity. Insecurity in terms of self-doubts regarding academics, looks and social status. I ignore when people compliment me and decide to focus on all the things I still “need” to improve. And this could get me into a loop where, at some point, I will stop believing in myself completely and thus lose every bit of confidence, which then will make people doubt me in return and so on and so forth. I thought that if my family had a bit more money, I wouldn’t have to pressure myself so much fighting for good grades and good scholarships. I thought that if I would lose weight, people would like me more. But what I realized is that self-doubts are not at all bound to a certain category of people, everyone has them. Even the most confident person on earth can hide something underneath a mask of arrogance. Maybe that person next to you in class, who is solving the Rubik’s cube within a minute to show off, could actually become your soulmate, best friend, someone who walks next to you for a part of your life?

We can never be certain what life has to offer us or where it will take us. Situations we would have never thought possible can actually happen and sometimes its exciting to just let go of this crazy urge to want to control everything. Spontaneous decisions can be the ones that lead to the most fun results. And ideally, the result is that you are happy. How you got there and for which reasons, often plays not a very important role anymore. I am happy, thats all I want to say I think. And how I got there is a story I would have never imagined to be true. Let’s just say that I got “austenized”.

Yes, I still miss New York like crazy but I stopped looking into grad schools there, I just can’t afford it. I will do my masters degree in Europe and then…good question. I still look at the pictures from my summer almost every day, sometimes with a happy reminiscing smile and sometimes with tears running down my cheeks because I miss the city so much.  Yes, I am super busy with my studies and my job and some of my friends face their own, personal issues and are occupied with that. Yes, there is a big question mark to life after graduation and I have no idea where I will be in a year from now and, almost more important, with whom I will be there. Maybe with Jessi.Or Judith. Or maybe with someone who is currently walking next to me through this part of my life and whom I would love to include into the next chapter. Or maybe I will go alone, who knows? As a matter of fact, it seems like several big decision are to be made soonish and usually I would freak out about this. However, I succeed in remaining quite calm because my life changed a little. This change came with a big BAM into my life and gives me a lot of confidence into myself, into the world, into the thought that everything will work out if its supposed to. I know, quite cheesy but also really comforting. I can be on my own…but its really nice to have someone be with you…

On this, potentially rather confusing, note:

Cheers guys!