A post about asking the right questions.
It’s six months since I started my sabbatical. Maybe seven, I don’t know, time doesn’t really mean much after a while. Does this sound too much like Camus? Maybe. I digress. I haven’t updated this blog in ages. Because I am lazy and editing/ uploading all those pictures takes longer than writing the actual text. Also because I stopped enjoying it…I’ve been here, I’ve done that, I’ve met this and I’ve met that and aren’t this pictures just beautiful? Surely, if I ever suffer from some mind-altering mental condition, not even this blog will help. So why do it? When I first started writing I wanted it to be about a feeling, about emotions, about finding answers. I think I failed. I didn’t even describe the really really AWESOME moments because I was afraid my mom would finally understand how to use Google Translate properly. Sigh.
Nonetheless – today is a wonderful Sunday afternoon. I live in Paris, France nowadays. Bonjour. Tres bien. Un vin rouge s’il vous plait por favor. Or something like that. I found myself in bed looking at Romanian election results. Not that I cared about politics that much…it’s more because it’s a game and it’s interesting to follow. This lying in bed moment reminded me that once upon a time, all I wanted to become was a political consultant. In other words, someone who advises politicians on how to run their campaigns, what to say in there speeches, what ads to put up on Facebook, and, to some extent, what policies to actually go for.
‘I had a dream’. Not quite sure where that went but, as the years went by, I had become a management consultant. I wish I had a similarly clear definition of what that job entails. Why did I change my plans? I don’t know. I can’t quite identify the moment when I actually made that choice. I am looking back and maybe it was when I saw someone from BCG present at my school? Or when I met a guy who was a board adviser to Airbus and I thought he was properly incredibly awesome. Sometime then. So what does this have to do with this blog, you might be wondering? An awful lot. Because the real reason…and please ignore if I said something else in any of my other posts…well, the real reason I took this sabbatical is because I was confused. It wasn’t the girls as my ‘boss’ said. It wasn’t the beaches as I told myself. It wasn’t the food, the people, the time, the adrenaline. No. It was the confusion I was experiencing.
To summarise all this – I was a management consultant working for a Big 4 accounting firm in London. I had studied at Cambridge (oh yeah), was making decent money (not enough obviously) and was doing really terrible work. I had imploded pretty much every serious or non serious relationship I had been in. And I had stopped carrying about friends or relatives or colleagues. The only question on my mind was: ‘what am I doing with my life?’ And more importantly ‘why am I doing this?’
Ok – 460 words into this, I have described something that I can’t really understand myself. Like George Soros who one day gave up being a philosopher after having spent the whole night writing. When he woke up in the morning, he couldn’t remember or understand what he was trying to say. That was his ‘Eureka’ moment – ‘I’m a rubbish philosopher. Time to focus on something else. Hmm…what should I focus on? Let me make some money!’ Right. Now George Soros had attempted to do one thing. Then he made a U-turn and did something else. What have I been trying to do all this time? Or, more importantly, what is it that I wanted to do all this damn time.
What is it that I want to do professionally?
Is that an easy question? I mean, in the end I am 28 years old, I should know, ffs! Well, let me try.
- Partner in a management consulting firm. Preferably Bain or McKinsey but PwC or Deloitte would also be ok. When? By the time I am 35. Say – MAX – before I am 40.
- Famous political scientist or historian. Lecture at one of the top liberal arts colleges in the US but UK would be fine too. Ride a bike to class, have political debates with smart-ass students, have all these female PhDs sigh when they see me walk by, not only because of suitably tight clothes bust mostly because of my intellectual power to even convince that most left-leaning of them of the benefits of laissez-faire free market libertarian systems.
- Be a successful entrepreneur, who launched a crazy app or service or whatever. Whenever people use it they think – why did I not come up with that, it’s so obvious.
- Successful politician. By that I don’t mean just a senator or minister for sports and youth or whatever else they invent. At least minister of the interior. What am I talking? Prime minister of President really? Why? Because I hate having a boss and if I say something it’s usually right anyway. Well. It might not always be right but what is a lot more important is that it’s never wrong.
- Best-selling author of fiction. Preferably a book inspired by real-life me. I would always deny it obviously, but everyone would know it’s about me and all the hidden feelings that I am never able to share. Of course the character would be taller, had a smaller head, thicker beard, and would drive a Porsche Carrera. Still me still me.
- Professional travel blog writer. Get this Stranger In This Town blog so famous that Richie Sambora himself calls me to say that I need to either change the name of it or pay him royalties for he wrote a song and an album with that name before I bought this domain. What? My agent says he called already. Scrap this. Read the next bullet point.
- Richie Sambora. Yeah. Play the guitar as if I am Eddie Van Halen meets BB King. Date Heather Locklear but then exchange her for her best friend, Denise Richards…then for Australian guitar prodigy and Steve Vai disciple Orianthi because nothing is more important to me than the guitar. Have the integrity to tell Jon Bon Jovi, after 30 years and in the middle of the biggest tour on the planet, that he is a softy and that I don’t care about millions and millions of dollars if I have to play rubbish like that (2 million a month plus 20% of all touring profits) …you know why, just because I want to jam baby, jam! Yeah.
Now I do understand that some of these are more realistic than others. For example, I have a slight fear that being Richie Sambora will not happen. But the others? Hell, they’re still achievable. The problem – unlike George Soros – it’s not black and white to me. Even the job that I thought I hated seems appealing in the longer term if it leads to being a partner. Going back to University and complete a PhD seems like a hell of a lot of fun. Joining a party and trying to run it – ohhh yeah! Bring it on. And just travelling and writing this blog? Sir, yes Sir. Only downside, no one reads it.
Hence I am asking all you folks who never read any of this! How do I get the right answer? How do I overcome this teenage confusion? How do I choose something? And please don’t tell me ‘you can still do all of that’. Because quite frankly, that’s what I tried to do for 28 years, and look at me, six months later, I still don’t know.
I was a consultant. The right thing to do is to dissect this further. And further and further. To be continued.
P.S.: The cover picture is not mine. I found it on Foter. You can use it freely but make sure you reference it:
Photo credit: Jack Mallon / Foter / CC BY
Does anyone truly know what they are doing or where they are going? I try and look back at what has made me happy and do as much as that as possible. If you’re doing things that make you happy (learning to play guitar in Phnom Penh), does anything else really matter?