Six months ago, if you would have asked my family and closest friends to describe me, they probably would have told you that I am an achiever, a goal minded woman who is career orientated. They would have been correct because that’s who I was and still am. But when I told them I gave up my permanent full-time job and the house I was living in with my (back then) partner so we could travel the world in the Toyota Land Cruiser we recently purchased, they thought I had lost my mind.
My partner and I decided to taste life the fullest like we believe it and not waist our days with the things we did not want. So, after a lot of research, we pushed aside all of our doubts and fears. Together we bought a Toyota Land Cruiser and dropped the news on our family and friends. We are now almost seven months on the road and I know this decision has been one of the best I have made so far. I want to share with you my reason behind this and why I think you should jump into that crazy idea of yours as well.
Oh, and please don’t go ask my family and friends to describe me now since I still hear them saying how crazy I am for doing this.
As a Persian-Dutch, born in Iran and grew up in the Netherlands, I should point out I am always eager to prove someone wrong if they challenge my abilities (let’s just blame that on the Persian blood streaming through my veins). I remember when I was 16 years old and how my high school advisor told me I should not take the risk of going for a higher degree. I was furious because I believed I could do way better, and so I did! When it was time to choose an university and a course, I ended up choosing Aviation Studies. Why? One of the reasons was because during the orientation day, the Manager of the study told me this is one of the toughest Bachelors where many people fail to complete and I should really consider it wisely. Now, I have my Bachelor of Engineering in Aviation Studies and aviation has become a true passion. Thus, best decision I could have made! Thank you, Philip Weersma, for the challenge you gave me without even knowing it!
As eager I was and still am, I also wanted to get my Masters. Let’s be clear, there are not many Persians with only their Bachelors… Following a MSc was not the only thing though; I wanted to go to Australia or London, just to be abroad and experience other countries and cultures. Even during my Bachelor, I tried to find internships outside of the Netherlands, but unfortunately none of it eventually worked out as I hoped they would because I lacked a bit of motivation due to family circumstances.
So, after my aviation degree, I ended up working outside of “my industry” at Yokogawa as a Sales Engineer in the Oil & Gas industry. When I look back, I can only smile because it was one of the best first jobs I can think of with the most amazing and funny colleagues I could wish for. But after 1,5 years, I was eager to climb the ladder, I was ready to explore new limits of my doing. I applied via LinkedIn for a Sales Engineer/Account Manager position at Schaeffler. They required quite some experience but I applied anyway, what did I have to lose right? I still think it is incredible of Schaeffler to invite me for an interview. They decided to look beyond what my CV tells about me and look more to what kind of person I am. I strongly think Schaeffler and its HR should be put as an example for this.
You might have already guessed; In September 2014 I started my new position at Schaeffler as an Account Manager. At the same time, other thoughts were creeping in my head again. Thoughts telling me I should aim for way more and how my lack of work experience is insignificant. It is however easy to give yourself the negative advice and absolutely safer than stepping out of your comfort-zone and admitting your true ideas and feelings. As I mentioned, I am up for a challenge. Although I enjoyed working at Schaeffler, it was also when realization really sank in; I didn’t want to be in a bureaucratic environment.
So, I gave myself an ultimatum, I will find a job abroad in the aviation industry or I will start my own business. I think I have idolized the aviation industry too much because after a few interviews, I realized it is the same game everyone plays, everywhere, and at this moment in my life, I do not want to be a part of it.
Just to clarify why I ended with this conclusion, it is because I ask myself almost every moment of the day what it is that I want to do in life and I ask this as well during job interviews. Most people forget an interview is not only for you to sell yourself to the company but also for the company to sell itself to you. Yes, I think I am great and the best catch for companies. Therefore, I sit and listen carefully during interviews and ask myself whether this is a match. Let’s face it, if you fake your interview, you will end up miserable at a job you don’t like, which is also negative for the employer and most importantly, for you! The most essential thing is keep reminding yourself the thing you want at all times!
So back to the thing I want, like, really really want!
I have been trying for so long to find an internship or a job outside of the Netherlands but still within my comfort-zone because I would still study or work. Until I finally came to my senses, the thing I am really graving for is to travel, to see this world, explore it, taste it and feel it while I still can! I don’t want to be one of the millions (or most likely more) of people who sit in their warm and comfortable place and only dream but don’t take matters into their own hand. Nope, I want to take my life by its collar and drag it with me around the world.
There I was, replacing my job and house for a Toyota Land Cruiser. Dedicated to drive as far as I can and taste life as is. No more fancy parties, hotels and spas (no guaranties on the “no more spas” though). Instead, I just took the only few items I really need with all of my savings. I hate to admit money was always really important for me. I hate it because money is the biggest reason why there are problems in the world and why we have so many wars and ugliness. Note to my (who knows if ever) future employer; don’t think because I said this, I will take less from you!!
I hope you will understand I am not saying everyone should also start travelling and go extreme. What I am trying to say is, question yourself and your life, ask yourself “what do I want?” I really dislike seeing and hearing quotes like “where there is a will, there is a way” or “you can get it if you really want”. As if everyone knows what they really want! This must be the biggest, toughest question in life! It is not something you think about every day, but you should! First, start thinking about it and then think about it every day! If you don’t know what you want, go explore different activities outside your comfort-zone so you can figure it out. Whether it is going alone to the cinema, starting a new sport/hobby, planning a holiday to an absolute crazy place or applying for that one certain job you keep talking yourself out of. I don’t believe you can find out what your dreams are by just keep doing what you do every day. It is all about exploring your limits and finding out what you are passionate about. If you know what you want, make it a dream of yours and let it sink in your heart so it can pump it through your whole body and then, make a step towards it! Now, I finally understand how life is really just a playground with aimless boundaries, just for us to play with.
So here I am, in Angola, writing my heart and brain out. I have already seen so much. The best part though is the people I have met, so many different people from diverse nationalities. From high-educated people to people who live a simple life in a village with only a few hours of electricity in the night (if lucky).
This journey already taught me a lot how to express myself in basic knowledge, how to appreciate the person I am, how to be thankful for all the people around me and how to keep aiming for what I want! All really selfish things and I can’t be prouder of myself! It is also incredible how everyone we meet is so open-minded. This really took me off guard to be honest, because in my day-to-day life in the Netherlands, I did not even realize how unaware many people are towards the world or their environment.
Even though I am “only” 6,5 months on the road, I can say in a heartbeat, this is the second-best decision I have ever made in my life! Second, because I still think choosing Aviation Studies should be on number one. God knows where I would have been ended up if I didn’t end up there and meet one of the most amazing people and learn about one of the best industries! I still am learning and exploring though, who knows what my mind will give me after a few months of more travel! Maybe finding a new dream?