Becoming Who I Am
A tale of failures, fights and a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s been a good 2018 so far professionally speaking, and it’s looking up. I would have never ever thought I will manage to do the things I like for a living, meaning writing. Eat this, mom and dad!
Sure, now it’s all nice and fluffy unicorns, but there was a time when it was shit and I am not ashamed to admit I have bowed my head, done the nasty, brought home the bacon by prostituting myself as an engineer. Whaaaaaaat? Prostituting?! Yes, prostituting. As far as I am concerned that is what engineering was for my brain.
I am writing this for the many out there who are thinking about a professional reconversion and get the chills.
You are most certainly right to feel that way. So try to avoid coming to a point when you have to rethink your profession completely (like I did). How do you do that? By keeping your options open. Go to courses, learn new stuff, develop new skills (much like I haven’t).
Meet Oana, the failed engineer
I didn’t fail perse. Every time I tell the tale, I say “I have become the best engineer I could possibly be”. I was the scrupulous geek who just couldn’t not learn stuff in school, fascinated by the elegance and mystery mathematics provided. It was a terrible shame for me to go home with bad grades. Not because my parents were demanding it from me, but because striving to be good is in my blood.
It all sounds like corporate stuff now, but I can’t begin to tell you how much headache it brought me. You see, I was miserable in the uni. Back then I thought it was because I didn’t know enough. So I strived further. Ph.D. and then Airbus. It took me a while to realize not just that I was miserable at my job, but I kind of sucked at it too. At least by my standards. The others, my colleagues, seemed to tolerate me just fine. Maybe it was my charm.
The fight and the fright
The decision to quit engineering was half insane. Had I not been by myself, completely independent, with no family or financial burden, I would have probably stayed on the job forever.
I had put some money aside that, after my vague calculations, would have lasted about two years give or take. It lasted less, obviously.
What did I do in that time? I explored opportunities. Tried entrepreneurship and picked up writing … again. You know, I did the kind of stuff that drove my parents mad and almost made my dad renegade me. It might sound crazy, but I didn’t feel like a failure. I felt like I was finding my way.
If I were to give an advice, it would be this – explore who you are by doing new stuff, meeting new people. Even though it seems you are not going anywhere, you are, in fact, not staying still either. It will impact the way you look at things and the way others perceive you.
It really is a horrible feeling not to know what tomorrow might bring. That is why I always had a backup plan in case my two years’ time wouldn’t have brought me anywhere. So do try this at home, but, please, have a safety net, no matter how rugged.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Stuff happened and I met Alin. Where he saw writing and potential, I saw haze and blur. It would be a gross understatement to say he just pointed me in the right direction. He believed in me. That is the most anybody can do.
Sure, in my case it was luck. I would have probably made it one way or the other, I am quite stubborn, but it would have taken me much more time. That is why I am going to give another advice: surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, whom you can learn from or, worst case scenario, surround yourself with people who at least don’t stay in your way.
I don’t have an illuminating, motivating thing to say. I think that it’s not just talent that makes you succeed at what you do. I think it’s also a bit of hard work, a bit of luck, a bit of chance and a bit of fuck-you-all. The important thing is to keep the fight and the light on.