I was at a point where society would applause and pat me on the back, but inside I was fighting with the feeling of not belonging since years.
While growing up in the countryside and a little town I knew I wanted to get out in the world. Especially when I got in my teenage years and started being interested in fashion, I was all for a big career in the big city. I thought it was my purpose to be in fashion and that city girl running to appointments in her chic outfit. Even though then at 18 when I left my home town, I definitely didn’t know a lot about the word purpose. All I knew was that I just didn’t want to be one of those people that stayed in the same old hood doing nothing special with their life (nothing wrong with that). I wanted something BIG (that hasn’t changed, but we’re coming to that later).
So I moved to a big city and studied hard to get my degree in fashion and textile management at a private university. All I wanted was to have the best marks to get a great job later on. In between I travelled to some amazing places and every so often made my way back home to my family during the weekends. I’ve never felt home where I’ve lived during that time. But I thought this was just a time of sacrifice and it would all be worth it after I finished university.
Well, I did it, I got my fabulous degree and the perfect job in the next big city. All was amazing. Everyone would say, she did it. A dream job in the buying group of the three oldest luxury department stores in Germany. I worked my way up and was soon traveling to Paris, Milan and all that places buying the designer collections in chic showrooms with chic people. But as the years went by I got more and more emotionally drained and always had the feeling of I don’t belong here. I don’t belong to this big loud city that is always bustling and I don’t belong to this crazy cold world of fashion. I was good at my job and it wasn’t terrible, but the voice in me didn’t stop and rather got louder. My energy levels were always low and I felt seriously unhappy with what I worked so hard to build up the last nine years.
I was at a point where society would applause and pat me on the back, but inside I was fighting with the feeling of not belonging since years. And it takes years to truly realize something and it takes time to get to know yourself and understand who you are. When you grow up you learn a whole lot about “the way to go”. And I went that way that I thought was meant to be for me. And sometimes times are definitely hard and that’s okay. But we should also learn more about listening to ourselves. To our gut, to that inner voice. That was clearly saying this was not the right way. You are someone that is not going to be happy with this path.
It’s so interesting to me that such big identity shifts happen in our twenties. And I’m sure they’ll happen again in the decades to come. But as I’m in my 27th year right now, I can only speak on behalf of this age. And for my part I’ve never thought that I would be going through some kind of second guessing everything in my twenties. We all want to arrive somewhere and maybe the end twenties are a preparation for getting a bit more settled, sorting everything out and looking for a place to stay to build your family. I think that’s definitely the case for me. As if this is my chance to find my own happiness and tick some boxes before caring for someone else’s happiness.
All I wanted was to arrive and find my home and purpose in my personal and professional life.
My first step was to find my place – the one I feel home. Everything else could follow from there. First one that came into my mind was the USA since you all know how much I love the east coast. I knew this would be my biggest adventure yet and at the same time maybe the place I could settle down. I started applying in Charleston, Savannah and New England and consciously picked places that weren’t big cities, but smaller ones or the countryside. And it finally worked out and I got a job offer in Connecticut at the beginning of 2020. It was the easiest decision to quit my job, my flat and everything in Berlin. I’ve never looked back and was so excited to start my new life. It was a job at a big corporate company in the lifestyle industry again, but I thought the new place would make up for it and I would finally settle a bit. You all know what came next.
This year changed everything for a lot of us. It destroyed well made plans and threw a whole different big crisis on us that we never expected to happen. And contrary to our personal ever evolving crises, we can’t do anything about it. Still there’s one good thing that 2020 gifted us and that is time. Time to think, time to learn and time to figure everything out without pressure.
As you can imagine I found myself lost in the middle of the year. Without a job, without a home and without a plan. The world was collapsing around me and there was just no way I could make it to my new life in the States. Congratulations, Sally, you did it. There’s just no way you get out of this. But there were two things I realized rather quickly. First, I made all of those plans my whole life and stubbornly hustled to put them into reality. And now there’s just nothing I could plan or do to change this. And second, I have time. Time to really think about what I want and don’t run into the next thing all too quickly. So I let loose for the first time in my life and gave myself time to be.
Don’t understand me wrong. It was not too glamorous the past few months and there were many lists, hard conversations with myself and others and shitty days where I just wanted to cry. I moved back to my parents, where everything started all those years ago. Back to zero. Time moved in slow motion (as I’m sure for everyone of you). And what I was also seeing was that for all of my friends around me life would go on. They would reach those milestones in their personal lives of getting settled, getting married, buying houses and having new businesses. And I was further away from those things than ever. I was incredibly happy for my friends and will always celebrate their highs, but that definitely made all of it extra hard on me. All I wanted was to arrive and find my home and purpose in my personal and professional life.
Somewhere in the middle of this low point of my life, I was set on fire. I truly had the feeling of understanding me, my strengths and what I was meant to be doing. What I loved doing in my free time anyway.
But while I worked through a lot of what happened in the past years and while life got slower, I step by step healed. I spent a lot of time outside in nature, finally spent time with my family without squeezing everything into one weekend, and I let my thoughts wander. I had the time to really ask myself the what I want and don’t want in life questions. And I realized that I could never return into the big city. That wasn’t me. I thrive being in nature and drown with lots of concrete and people around me. That meant working in buying and fashion would be a lot more difficult since most companies are in big cities. I also realized I would love to work for myself or a small family business and in a more genuine and creative environment. The big corporate world that I wanted to make a career in nine years ago just wasn’t for me. Subsequently I thought a lot about what could be the perfect setting and task for me. Something that would fulfill me and fits my believes of happiness over the next years.
I also continued creating for my blog and finishing a new site design for it. Since months I’ve been working on it and I was loving everything about the process. At the same time I experienced my sister having problems with her web designer and I also couldn’t find someone to code my new design for me. So I started research. I’ve had graphic design as a part of my studies and knew a lot about all of the Adobe programs, but I didn’t have an understanding of developing and coding at all. A thought began to grow in me and suddenly I woke up in the morning with new excitement. This might be it, I thought. I love being able to create. A website feels like a home to me and I love building it and choosing a branding, colors and fonts. And I love the strategy behind branding and the challenge to understand the core of a business and translate it into the branding. It would be fantastic to work with like minded people and help them create their dream website and home for their babies (businesses). Additionally the logic type A person in me loved learning about coding and all that goes into it. Somewhere in the middle of this low point of my life, I was set on fire. I truly had the feeling of understanding me, my strengths and what I was meant to be doing. What I loved doing in my free time anyway. And it was also a realistic thing to make into a stable career (yes, I had that small episode of wanting to write a book, which was honestly not very realistic).
So I decided I would use this time that life threw at me to learn and study everything I could to build my own branding and webdesign business. I started studying webdesign and development online and also invested in more courses about branding and building online shops. Fast forward to today I already learned so much and can say I really found my “thing” in this unpredictable times. I love it so much and I’m on the best way to open my own business next year. Something that I’ve always secretly dreamed about and never would have started when I would have moved. In the States I would have worked in a big corporate environment again that I now know is not the setting that really makes me happy. And even though the global crisis took my dream away from me for now, in the end it gifted me something much better. To work on something that I’m incredibly passionate about and that fits to me as a person.
My BIG is truly finding what makes me happy and also realizing that things are not set in stone. It’s about giving life the chance to unfold differently than we thought and about finding purpose in the today. That makes life a whole lot more meaningful and happy.
So why am I telling you all of this. Sometimes (often) your purpose is not what you thought it would be. And it’s also ever evolving. You are changing, you are growing, you are making experiences and mistakes. Life is unpredictable and makes turnarounds all the time. And even though I made a big step into the right direction, I still wouldn’t say I arrived and found my true purpose yet. I would rather say I now understand to listen to myself and that purpose is not a one-stop arrival. Finding meaning and purpose is a process that goes through many layers. What we were in the past and what we’re doing today is playing a big part in becoming who we are in the future. I’m not ungrateful for the past years of my career and living in the big city and everything I’ve learned. I became so confident and a grown up professional woman. It wasn’t wasted time, which was also important for me to realize. And even though what I once thought would be my purpose might not be my meant for me, it still plays a role along the way of going into the right direction.
Purpose can also be found in different areas and different parts of life. I’m now working and throwing myself into what I want to achieve and build professionally. Though I still haven’t found my home base and purpose personally, which will take even more time and patience. For now I’m happy where I am with my family, but there’s still this itch in me that there’s something out there. And building this business might open possibilities for me to live at places I’ve never thought of before. Not being in fashion means I don’t have to live in a big city anymore. It’s all building up on each other. I’m also still hoping to be able to make my big dream trip to the USA and Canada next year and might be finding what I’m looking for along the way. Maybe I even find out that it was the small town I grew up in all along and I will return to stay.
What I learned this year, is that everything can happen. You can plan and work towards something, but in the end it might come totally different. And to be honest even though we’re captured inside and can’t travel right now, I’ve never felt so free. There’s no set in stone place, way or career for me. I can let loose and it will all find it’s right way on its own just following my gut. Don’t understand me wrong, I will still work hard to make my dreams come true, but there might be a whole different path to it that is even better. I’m still in the thick of it and it’s a journey. But it’s happening right now and it’s my own personal adventure. I still want something BIG, which is nevertheless something totally different than I thought it would be. My BIG is truly finding what makes me happy and also realizing that things are not set in stone. It’s about giving life the chance to unfold differently than we thought and about finding purpose in the today. That makes life a whole lot more meaningful and happy.