I’ve always had certain idea of how my life needs to be in order to achieve the things I want. I get an idea stuck in my head because it feels like the right thing to do, and there is no other way about it. This can be smaller things, but mostly it will be “callings” affecting how I live my life. For example, after being accepted into university, I dreamed of studying in Scotland. Not just a year abroad, that wouldn’t be enough, no, I had to transfer schools. Knowing nothing about the British architecture schools and bureaucracy, I of course failed this attempt the first time around. I only applied to ONE school and hardly knew what a portfolio was, but I was determined at least I’ve always had that. I accepted the setback and continued working towards my goal, even re-doing an exam from my Bachelor levels to improve my grades. I was probably the only student in the history of NTNU Architecture School that privately organised re-doing a full semesters group project on my own. While working as an intern! Like I said, determination was always my thing.
After Scotland I made a plan of traveling where I would end up in Australia, get a job, learn more about surfing and be happy ever after. I saw a way for my life, I made it a plan, and I worked to make it happen. And the scary thing was, I never saw any alternatives. Once I got the idea of which direction my life should go, I saw no other solution. It has to be this way, it feels right, it must be fait. This plan is how I will be happy! And if things don’t go according to plan, I’ll try again.
I managed to do some great things in my life because I never cared if it was the hard way to go about things. When I wanted something I’d work for it, hard. Moving towards the goal would become a sort of lifestyle and definitely the most important part of my life at that moment. Of course, living this way, being extremely goal oriented, makes you less attentive to the wonderful things happening on the way there. There were so many nights I didn’t go to that party, or went home after one beer because I had to work towards my goal in the morning.
But the desired life situation wasn’t enough. I wasn’t living the dream just getting accepted to the desired school, I also had to be successful and achieve high results. The tangible recognition that someone else sees you as talented as you wish to be. I didn’t have to be best, I knew I wasn’t, but I needed to be at least really God damn good.
Always having a goal gives you something to move towards in life. It gives you direction and a feeling of identity. Although being happy would always be the ultimate goal, it’s easier achievable when split into smaller, more tangible goals. I mean, how do you get happy? The idea of being happy in Australia was based on me achieving a lifestyle I envisioned as the perfect one. A combination of a fulfilled carreer life with intellectual stimulation through architecture work and the travel lifestyle through beach life and surfing. The feeling of traveling while in the security of a steady job I love. The best of two worlds. In my head there was no other way. This was also the safest and most practical way of gaining the experience needed to secure a Skilled Visa which then again would give me residency and a safe path to my dream life Down Under. That was the plan. That was how I was going to be get my happy life in Australia.
As you know, that was not what happened. What happened was not even remotely looking like my plan. It was a massive slap in the face. My former logic of hard work equals results was thrown out the window. No one here care about my education. No one gave a shit about my nice portfolio. “you have a great portfolio” they’d say, “but we need someone more experienced”. What most of them meant was someone who knows the Australian way. Local experience was everything here. Also, contacts. You need contacts. I reached out to some of the people I knew, and they’ll try, but not really. You are on your own. And even though I always did things on my own, I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for a YEAR of trying on my own. A year of not being able to take a time-out and lean on family and friends the way you do back home. Luckily I wasn’t completely alone, as I was allowed to take refuge in my childhood friend’s house for a while.
The idea of having to get to a certain point in life in order to live a happy life has messed me up. I haven’t cried this much or had this many breakdowns since being dumped in boarding school at 19. Nothing horrible has happened, I have not been hurt, but through the distress around not managing to make a plan happen, not seeing the solution for how my life would occur, I was standing in my own way to enjoying this experience. Because happiness lives in this tangible situation I see as the ultimate life. So when having to do my farm work I was so focused on getting to my goal, I could never really rest in the current situation, making it harder than necessary. I tried to embrace it, but all I could think about was where I should be instead. The fear of not being able to “make it in Australia” was making my life in Australia shit.
So when the time came for me to move out of my friend’s safe place, I got a kick in the butt to accept things as they were, move to a place and start working towards making a life for myself here until the Job came along. And then started the real job. How to live without a plan. Not knowing if I’d spend another year or the rest of my life in Australia, I have to make the best out of it. But when my whole life has been plans moving from one goal to another, there is some major adjustments that has to happen in my head. I get to surf, so that’s about 50% of my plan already achieved. But the rest and perhaps most important part I still have no idea how to achieve. Maybe I don’t have to, maybe there is another way. I read a meme saying that if you only focus on what will make you happy now, you will never have to worry about ten years from now.
Coolangatta, my favorite place in Aus so far!
The international crowd in Cooli making the everydays a lot more fun!
Front and almost centre 😉 At least my hands are not and issue…
I currently have a bit of casual architecture work from the office where I interned and through a friend I met through the farm work. I would normally say it’s not enough, but it’s keeping me busy so I’m good for now. I’m taking the hint. I cannot control this. And if the ultimate goal is happiness, I’m learning how focus on how to be happy now with what I’ve got going on instead of striving towards something exterior that I think will make me happy someday.