People are nice

The day before yesterday I had my belongings packed and taken by the moving company. During that morning, when the packing took place, an elderly woman approached me as I and the moving men were outside at the truck packing some furniture in.

The woman greeted me and asked whether I was leaving Switzerland. After my saying yes she explained being the neighbor in the next building, and how she found it a pity that I was moving away. I did not know the woman at all, I still don’t, and had at most said the occasional “good morning” or “hello” to her during the past three and a half years. Yet, she came to greet me and wish me all the best in the future, finally handing me some Swiss chocolate to take home. From my astonishment I could barely thank her and also wish her all the best.

Sometimes there are people observing us, while we have no idea, and sometimes there are also people watching over us without our knowing.

What have I achieved since November 2015?

My blog got started thanks to the blog challenge from Live Your Legend. It’s a recurring challenge that calls you to start a blog, make writing a habit and thus learn more about yourself. I started my blog in November 2015 and still actively writing. Since I have now come to a cross-roads in my life and have chosen to pursue studies and later a career in the field of physics, I decided it was time to reflect on my past writing. In the first half of June 2017 I read some of my earliest blog posts from November and December 2015 to compare my thoughts and goals then and now; whether I have achieved targets I set to myself one and a half years ago, and whether I have internalized some thought models and tools that I vouched for then.

Writing actively

In my first blog post I explicitly stated regular writing as a purpose of my blog. That I have been doing now since November 2015. Initially, I also planned to publish some fiction in my blog. On that front it has been rather quiet, apart from two small pieces, but I might publish some fiction again in the future. What is completely missing is a public reading my blog and commenting on my posts; cultivating ideas via active discussion is something I believe in, so here I have to improve, whether it’ll be live discussions or getting more publicity for my blog.

About networking

In another one of the earlier blog posts I discuss networking and how I’ve never felt comfortable doing it. I still don’t, but I think I have gotten a bit better in it, learnt how to approach people and gained a grain of self-confidence to do it marginally more often than before.

Being grateful

Having been born, at all, and especially in Finland is something I am very grateful for. This farm life  has been enriched by many different experiences and people. Even when I have a rainy day, I try to remind myself how well my things are and that I can have an impact on my future, while still being humble to the randomness of life.

On trying

One of my earliest posts discussed how I was proud of having started my blog as a channel to get my thoughts in the open and trying to keep up with the blog challenge from LiveYour Legend, although I had fallen behind the schedule. This attitude, being proud of even trying, is at the core of what helped me resign in June 2017 and take the leap back to university and start a physics study from scratch with a M.Sc. in industrial engineering already in my pocket. Although my blog did not lead me to participate more actively in the societal discussion as I thought, it helped me raise my voice, try new things and be less afraid of potentially not succeeding in my plans.

I quote here the last paragraph from my post from November 25th 2015 where I wrote about trying and seeking my passion. I believe continuous curiosity and seeking to be the right path in life:

“At the moment I am proud of taking the step towards my dream and passion, whatever they may be. Just actively looking for them is on its own something worth doing, since I have a clear goal and meaning for the actions I take. I hope that those of you, unsure of their direction in life, will also take the step towards finding your passion and purpose. The trip will be worth it. Not trying is failure without alternatives. Trying and not succeeding is not failure, just success in a different form as initially envisioned.” 

My elevator pitch

As prescribed in the blog challenge from Live Your Legend, I created my own elevator pitch to tell what I am building, what I care about and what I am passionate about. In November 2015 my elevator pitch was:

“I am building a person, who is active in his own small town community, helping organize great events and letting others experience the small everyday moments of happiness. I am building a person who helps people learn and grow as persons.

I care about people and their well-being. Seeing someone smile, hearing them say thank you, even in their own head, makes me happy, makes me want to do more for them. Knowing that I do matter, that I can help make a difference, keeps me going further. I also care about myself, knowing that I have to help myself before being able to help others.

I am excited about sports, about nature, about good books, about writing. I am excited about hearing people’s wild, even crazy ideas and making them come true. Unfortunately I have lost some of this characteristic after my university times, but I can still feel the flame and hope to bring it again to its full force. Being unconventional, unpredictable and uncommonly good is an exciting and challenging ideal.”

The first paragraph in this elevator pitch was inspired by a youth camp of my then sports club. I participated as an instructor and had great fun at the camp, thinking that I might want to get more involved in the local community. Yet, I didn’t do it, and now I think that I might not be such a person after all. I don’t feel a burning desire for very active participation in local associations taking an active role in the local society. However, becoming a person who helps people learn is definitely me; as a future physicist I want to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and educate people.

The second chapter is a bit vague, but in line wity my current thoughts: smiles and thank-yous make me happy and I want to feel I am making a difference. I think one reason I wasn’t happy in the business world in a large company was the feeling of being a minuscule cog wheel in a giant machine without making any difference. Helping others is also something that brings me joy, while I also take care of myself.

The third chapter still describes the things I get excited about: nature, sports, books and writing. Now I would add physics, science and learning to the list. The part on making crazy ideas come true might become more prevalent again when I am at the university, surrounded by other students, many ten years younger than me, with their wild ideas and passion to make things happen.

Summing my current thoughts together, my current elevator pitch is:

I am here to increase the human understanding of the surrounding world, and asking questions like “why is the world such and such” is important to me, something I care about very much. I am passionate about searching for answers to these questions in co-operation with like-minded people, while having fun doing it and not taking even science too seriously.

Making a difference

In a later post from December 2015 I still entertained the thought of becoming more active in our sports/gymnastics club. I ended up becoming the club’s treasurer in February 2016, but I think I had made the decision to apply already before the December 2015 blog post. I did not become more engaged in our sports/gymnastics club, but I think that as member of the club’s board and as treasurer I did a decent job. Becoming more engaged in the administrative activities and arranging events just wasn’t my cup of tea, although I very much enjoyed getting into the trenches and taking care of clear tasks and chores at our events, such as setting the scene and the props between performances at one of our larger, bi-annual events.

My revolution

As clueless as I was in December 2015 on what revolution I would want to lead, I still have no clear picture, but I might find an answer in the area of science and physics. Since I am passionate about learning and science, maybe my personal revolution will take place somewhere between science, learning and teaching.

About team work and learning

The blog post on learning and working in teams from December 2015 discusses some of the difficulties in affirming the required knowledge and level of knowledge for a task. Sometimes, before you set out to do something, you do not know what kind of skills and knowledge are required, which might make the successful completion of the task very difficult later on. The post is not very original in that respect, but the last chapter contains two good pieces of advice: […] as individuals we should have the courage to say two things, the first being “I do not know.” and the second “Could you please help me?” These two phrases I have learnt to use more and will keep them in my active vocabulary.

Saying goodbye and packing my bags

The last weeks have been hectic, me preparing to move, saying goodbye to people and Switzerland in general and leaving a clean desk at work.

Two weeks ago, on July 8th 2017, I did one more hike that was still on my list: Säntis. Säntis is a 2500 meters high peak in Appenzell, Switzerland and is accessible by gondola. I chose to take the bus to Wildhaus and climb from there by foot the remaining 1500 meters to the top. Although Säntis is a tourist attraction and might get crowded, climbing to it offers magnificent views over the surrounding valleys and near peaks. It’s a full days trip if you go by foot from Wildhaus and take decent breaks. From Säntis you could continue to many different directions, maybe after an overnight stay at the top, if you feel like it.

A view to the South from the plateau by Säntis.
A view from Säntis to the East.

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from climbing to the Säntis to say farewell to the Swiss Alps, I also visited an ex-colleague and organized two barbecue events to say thank you and goodbye to my friends and colleagues at work. The barbecue with my friends was a warm event in the cool shade of the trees surrounding the public barbecue spots, but the one with my colleagues was less successful, as a thunder storm drove us away. Not letting rob ourselves of a nice evening, we drove to my place, and my 16-square-meter living room was roomy enough for twelve people. Actually spending the evening in such a tight atmosphere and venue was more than appropriate, considering that I am already practically a student.

Now, as I am writing this, almost all of my belongings are already packed in cardboard boxes and plastic bags for the moving company to come pick them up. In about a weeks time I will be back in Finland, settling in to my new life as a future student of physics.

Having had the time to reflect my decision, I am still confident that I have made the right choice. But as always eventually happens, I am having increasingly more butterflies in my stomach as the days go by. After all, I am exchanging a quite secure and good income for student life with little to no income. But that’s just on the medium term; on the long term I am exchanging a career that did not interest me enough to one that might prove out to be my passion. And being exited about it, sometimes with a hint of intimidation or anxiety mixed with keen interest for the future, is a good sign for me.

I’m going home

Today, June 12th 2017, was the first day of the rest of my life. My resignation and coming studies in physics were announced in our team, and the following Wednesday we will announce it to the whole department. On my way home from work I decided to inform my friends, close relatives and people who had helped me during the process of finding my passion in science and physics.

I spent the evening calling my friends and telling them the news of having decided to pursue university physics, starting from the very beginning, and planning to move back to Finland in August. All of the people I called greeted the news joyfully, congratulating me for taking such a step. One friend said he was hardly surprised by my decision to go back studying, but such an extreme move, instead of studying alongside work, was not for him the most expected decision. Anyhow, he was fully supportive and happy for me.

Being able to inform my close friends and relatives was such a great feeling, being able to lift the veil of secrecy and be open, be honest and tell where my passion lies and that I had decided to pursue it. They gave me supportive feedback and encouragement without a hint of doubt or belittling; once again I was shown how great friends I have, friends who don’t judge me and are open-minded.

Unfortunately I didn’t reach everyone this evening so I will continue with the calls tomorrow. Even if I become repetitive here, I must once more say that being open about yourself, your personality, interests and passions is relieving and lets you pursue those things in full without wasting energy on hiding things or trying to play a foreign role.

This blog post was originally written on June 12th 2017.

Me – Guaranteed admittance

Having applied for multiple subjects, not only for physics at Helsinki University, to increase my chance of being admitted to some program, I saw yesterday that I have been admitted to study technical physics at my old university. The admittance is conditional, however: I will be admitted if I am not admitted to any subject that I have ranked higher in my application and will not accept the admittance to any other university. Therefore, even in the case of the unlikely scenario happening that I am not admitted to study physics at Helsinki University, I already have a back up. But in my application, on the list of schools, above technical physics at Aalto University I still have chemistry and mathematics at Helsinki University, so those would also have to fail to admit me before I could start at Aalto. Anyway, knowing that I have a guaranteed admittance to one interesting program gives me a bit more peace of mind.

The power of introspection

Today, after having arrived at work, I talked with my colleague about the past weekend. Obviously I could not mention anything about the university admittance, since my leaving the company will be announced the following week. However, I did mention having written new posts for my blog, but not mentioning the exact subject, and my colleague was surprised to hear I had blog. Although I had mentioned it in a team meeting the previous year, she had not been present at that time and I had probably failed to mention it again.

She took a look at the blog and we talked about how writing, reflecting on your writing and publishing the texts promotes introspection and gives you certain aha moments; when your thoughts are on paper and out in the open, they become much more tangible and also have a stronger impact on you. During the discussion I couldn’t help thinking how my blog has lead me to know myself better and face the truth about my path in life during the past one and a half years. My colleague also mentioned how such personal revelations make one think what to do next, and again I was thinking how I had now chosen to go study physics, already written and sent my letter of resignation last week and would be announcing my decision to our team the next week.

This is a very exciting and invigorating period of time for me; I have been preparing a big change in my life, set the pieces on their places, put the machinery in secret in motion . The wheels are already turning slowly but still silently, and I am waiting for the moment to pull the lever, which will set the wheels in full motion and raise the curtain so that I can show others what I have created.

This post was originally written on June 6th 2017 and was finalized on June 10th 2017.

Me – More thoughts and feelings in the middle of a big change

End of May, as I had already made the decision to resign and start university studies, I asked a colleague of mine whether she would like to do a hike to Säntis, something we had talked about briefly the other day. After having shortly talked about it around mid-May, I proposed her end of May doing the hike mid-June. She happily agreed and was surely as excited as I was, so we set the date on June 18th. The main difference between us obviously was that I was planning the trip with the idea of soon leaving the company and my colleagues, including her, so for me it would be a kind of a farewell trip.

Now, on June 2nd, I am thinking how she will react and what she will think when she hears a few days before our trip, on June 14th in our monthly team meeting, that I will leave the company soon. Knowing her, I am sure it will not change her fundamental attitude towards me, but I am sure that the news will have an impact. Actually I think that the impact might eventually be a positive one, since we will likely end up discussing my decision to leave the company and my motives for doing it. Since I have decided to share my story with anyone who wants to hear it, I am more than happy to discuss it; if my story and example can prevent someone from taking decisions out of wrong reasons, arrogance, fear of being disapproved by others or fear of pursuing one’s own passion, I have achieved my goal.

This blog post was originally written on June 2nd and finalized on June 5th 2017.

Me – The resignation letter

I feel like a hoax, like a traitor, and simultaneously a sense of suspense and a promise of freedom are taking me forward on my chosen path. I am sitting at my desk, on Friday June 2nd 2017. It’s 10:02 am, and I have just signed my resignation letter and closed it in an envelope, assigned to our HR department. An e-mail waiting to be sent is looming on my computer screen, also containing the information on my resignation to HR and my boss and questions on how many holidays I still have and how to post them correctly.

First thing this morning I discussed with a colleague office materials that are printed according to the new brand expression. Our company’s band expression was renewed this year, making some older printed envelopes and letterheads obsolete and no more brand conform. We discussed when the old prints would have to be destroyed, how the costs should be posted in the ERP system and how to make sure that no new products, that will run under the same product codes, get destroyed. This whole discussion I lead while already mentally preparing to write my letter of resignation after that. I feel a bit sheepish, having spent three and a half years with wonderful colleagues and now having been planning my career change under their eyes, yet unbeknownst to them, for the last 10 months. Yet, I do not feel quilt, and of course I shouldn’t. After all, I do not consider it wrong what and how I have done, how I have been looking for a new career elsewhere and how I have come to the decision to go back to university and start studying physics. On occasion, I have discussed with some colleagues how I had better grades in technical mechanics than in industrial management and how I might have ended up majoring in a more technical subject. I have also had many a good discussion with them on pursuing one’s dreams and doing what feels right, even if others disapprove it. Against that context it might not come as a large surprise to some colleagues that I am going back to university to study physics.

The feeling of leaving my warm-hearted colleagues is what makes my stomach twist and gives me the sense of severing body part or being myself torn away from a larger whole. In spite of these feelings I take comfort in the new perspectives opening before me, the world of natural sciences and physics that will be my home in the future and the like-minded people who curiously wonder and awe the world, they all represent what I desire, represent the place where I belong.

A change is often, if not always, exciting. Now I must keep myself from painting too rosy a picture for myself. Studying physics is going to be hard and there will be times when I surely will question my passion for it. But reflecting now on that distant future, the feeling of wanting to understand why and how nature works, what the laws of nature mean, how mathematical formulations describe the world around us, this desire is strong and will certainly help me over the harder times.

I am sitting at my desk writing these lines, the letter of resignation on my table in a sealed envelope and the anticipation of the results of the university admittance selection in the back of my head. My present career condensed in one single letter, hidden in an envelope, my future life and all potential careers still just a dream in my mind’s eye, a dream that gets more real every day, a dream that will soon be reality.

This blog post was originally written on June 2nd and finalized on June 5th 2017.

Me – Feelings and thoughts in the middle of a big change

cousinFor some time now (as I’m writing this on May 22nd 2017), weeks or maybe a month or two, I have felt an increasing pull back to Finland, being each day a bit more certain that I will start my physics studies. Until a few days ago, I was still actively looking for jobs in research and development, the most recent located in Finland. As mentioned in a previous blog post, my lack of technical expertise and education was always mentioned as the reason for not pursuing interviews with me. Thus I have ceased to look for work and have made the physics studies my number one option.

Now, since last week, I am certain that I will move to Finland and start my physics studies, so I am feeling an itch of wanting to inform my friends, relatives and everyone close to me. But until the change is communicated officially at work, I shall postpone my own announcements. Last week, I and the rest of the board of our sports and gymnastics club already announced that I would be stepping down as treasurer by end of July, but the exact reason wasn’t announced. For now, and until it’s communicated at my work in mid-July, only our club’s president of the board knows the exact reason. I already informed him around mid-March of the possibility of my moving back to Finland, and now we had to communicate it since it will take place.

Other than our club’s president, the only people knowing my plans at the moment are a few close relatives and friends. Somehow it’s a nice, thrilling feeling, not sharing wider this huge secret, this tidal wave that will take my life back from a steady corporate job back to the sea of uncertainty. At the same time I already want to inform my friends, my grandparents and other relatives, tell them that I am coming back to Finland. I am not expecting them to stand in line and wait for my return with open arms while leaving their own lives on hold, that would be arrogant and naïve of me, but I am sure that they will welcome me back with warm hearts. I am equally looking forward to living again closer to them and meeting them more often.

Since today, 22.5.2017, I feel like screaming in the middle of the street, from the top of my lungs that “I am moving back to Finland”. Maybe I’ll do it. I have also noticed that since my time here in Switzerland now has a specific end point, I have planned things I still want to do while I easily can: visiting Jungfraujoch, going to see Switzerland’s highest waterfalls at Walensee, maybe still hiking once more the Drei Schwestern route in Liechtenstein with an overnight stay up high in the mountains. A colleague also mentioned visiting Säntis as something she had not done yet, and that inspired me to take that on my list as a fourth thing to do before I go.

The other day I was having lunch with my boss and the two other team members in our team. Over lunch we discussed holiday plans and I mentioned my class-reunion in August, at which time I would already be in Finland permanently. Of course I did not mention moving back to Finland, and I felt at the same time somehow betraying my colleagues, keeping the truth from them, while at the same time I had this pleasant, exciting feeling of being able to really surprise them later on. Still, leaving my job and Switzerland makes me both looking forward but also already missing the future that will not take place. When I talk about my coming vacation in Finland, I talk about a vacation that won’t end up in my returning to Switzerland, but starting on a new path. But just as I believe that my friends and relatives will be happy to see me live in Finland again, I equally believe that it’s possible to keep up the relationships with some of my closer colleagues.

This blog post was originally written on May 22nd and finalized on June 5th 2017.

Me – Being insecure, arrogant and finally honest to myself

This blog post discusses, why it took me ten years to find out that physics is my true passion and the area I want to work in. At least that’s my current understanding, but in all honesty, I think I knew all that already ten years ago. Yet, at that time I was too insecure and too arrogant to acknowledge it.

Why I chose industrial management

In this chapter I try to describe, how my perceptions, thoughts and feelings affected my decisions when I was studying for my first degree, a M.Sc. in industrial management. The views below are meant to illustrate the strong conflict between my personal interests, my perception of others’ opinions and expectations and my fear to be true to myself ten years ago. Therefore, any generalizations below are highly subjective and merely describe how I remember feeling and thinking during the time period concerned.

When I had finished upper secondary school with excellent grades, I was not completely sure where to go. That I would start university studies was a given, but the university, faculty and subject were still unclear. I remember a 1st of May party at my godmother’s when I was still a pupil at upper secondary school and was asked about my further plans. At that time I mentioned technical physics and paper and pulp engineering as interesting areas; I was into mathematics and physics, but also wanted to work on their practical applications instead of purely theoretical work.

During the three years in upper secondary school, however, as I learned more about all the possibilities, I eventually narrowed down on industrial management. As a mix of technical subjects, business studies and strategic management, it sounded like a springboard to success, good money and interesting work, maybe even in that order. It also sounded general enough to keep many possible career paths open, since I still had no clear vision. Gradually, entertaining the thought of studying industrial management turned into the only and best option there was.

After having impregnated my mind with a potential career in strategic management, business consulting or as a plant manager, I found the more technically oriented subjects to be not worthy of my talent. Also, while the subject of industrial management at my later university was one of the most difficult to get into in the whole country, it had to be the right choice. Had I chosen, say paper and pulp engineering, I would have wasted my excellent upper secondary school grades, since you could get in with average grades. And if you could get in with average grades, average people with average intelligence could get in. And if only average people get in and study in the faculty, the quality of the studies and the environment can’t be that good. And if the studies are not of high quality, you can’t have a successful career at a top position. And without a top position you won’t be successful in life.

Reading the above lines, I realize how ridiculous my logic was. First, while the score limits for getting into a school is a proxy for the quality of the student material, it’s also just a barometer for the school’s popularity among applicants relative to yearly intake, not a reliable indicator for the quality of the studies or the faculty. Second, many technical experts have successful careers in their respective fields, and some even study business later. These people might be even more successful leading businesses since they also know and understand in detail the products and technologies in question. Third, university studies often give general readiness for a broad spectrum of work, especially those in the areas of natural sciences or engineering, so dismissing any specific subject right off the bat is just arrogant. Fourth, I was unsure whether a business career really was what I wanted, and it wasn’t as it would turn out later.

The itch

While studying industrial management, I felt that some engineering studies would be beneficial to increase my understanding of technology and technical topics. If I was going to lead a manufacturing company of some sort one day, I ought to have at least a vague understanding of the related technologies and scientific phenomena and applications. I ended up choosing technical mechanics in the faculty of mechanical engineering as my minor subject since it combined a broad range of technical topics with applied mathematics and physics. This seemed to provide a broad yet rigorous enough basis for understanding the world of engineering.

When I took my first courses in technical mechanics, I had doubts whether I had made a good choice after all. The first courses on machine design, statics and dynamics I did like but solid mechanics 101 was a disappointment. I felt that the lecturer was not doing a good job and that made me feel a bit rebellious too, not even wanting to understand the more elusive ideas, their physical basis or applications. Nevertheless, I managed to get through the course, got a decent understanding on solid mechanics, took the next course in the subject, and that changed my view on the subject. The professor lecturing the second course was enthusiastic about the topics, could explain the ideas extremely well and motivated us so that I was hooked. Actually, it wasn’t until this point that I chose technical mechanics to be my minor; initially I had chosen flight technology, but this one course with this great professor changed my mind, and also started opening my eyes.

After the two courses in solid mechanics, I took a course in vibrations of structures, lectured by the same teacher as the solid mechanics 101. This time I liked his course and his teaching; maybe I had matured and was self-motivated, wanting to learn for myself and wanting to understand why and how the studied phenomena happen. After that came also a course in finite element method, one of my favorites: we applied physical principles and calculus to model real-world phenomena that we would also test in the laboratory. All these courses I passed with good grades, and at this time I noticed something. My grades in my minor were better than in my major.

The revelation

I cannot recall it exactly, but I think it was during my third year of studies, when I started to get the feeling of being more into mechanical engineering than industrial management while also getting better grades in my minor than in my major. I also remember finding the applications in technical mechanics, like FEM-calculations, study of vibrations in structures and solid mechanics, much more interesting than optimizing a supply-chain or analyzing a company’s business strategy. To be honest, I found many of the business courses somehow lacking in substance and precision; money as a metric and target of optimization was boring.

Yet, I stuck with my major of industrial management since it was considered by students of our own and other subjects as the place to be if you aspired a high-profile business career. At least that was the stereotypical attitude, as I recall it. If you were studying industrial management, you were a cool guy, you were smart and skilled, you were ambitious and you had a skyrocketing career in business ahead of you.

This view on industrial engineering and its students was a stereotype, at which many would laugh and make jokes about. Even we, students of industrial management made self-demeaning jokes about our superiority, while at least some of us not so secretly believed it to be true but were simultaneously afraid that it might not be true after all.

The arrogance

As it turned out, I wasn’t interested in business, leading a company or earning a very high salary. But I was too proud to admit this, too proud to say: “I don’t want this, I want something else and I don’t care about what any one else thinks. I don’t care about whether it’s prestigious or not, as long as it makes me happy.” But I was still too arrogant and too afraid to believe this maxim, not to mention to act on it.

I started thinking about switching my major and minor around, but never came to do it. I remember thinking: “That’s ridiculous, mechanical engineering is for average people. And what would your friends and any casual acquaintances think! You don’t quit industrial management; many dream of studying it, yet never achieve it. You just keep on going, graduate, get a good job in business, make good money and have a good business career.”

Reading the above lines, it might sound like I was an obnoxious person, but actually I don’t think I was. Quite surely, if you ask my friends, they will describe me as a down-to-earth person who doesn’t brag with his own skills or achievements. All the arrogant thoughts and ideas above were rather my internal discussion which I never expressed to the outside world. I was insecure, too concerned what others might think about me, how I might look if I actually quit industrial management and pursued some un-sexy, not so well paying career.

To new paths

Let’s forward from my university days to the time after my graduation. During the last three and a half years (January 2014 to June 2017) I have made many realizations and have had the good fortune of experiencing many common wisdoms first hand.

For one, when working in a good team, like our team in procurement, even less satisfying work does not seem that dissatisfying since the people around you are so great. Achieving goals together makes the hardships. Another point is that when you are working in a good team you might be reluctant to leave such lovable people behind you, even if you feel and know that the work you are doing with them is not the one you want to be doing.

Personally, I transferred gradually from the first case to the second, realizing that procurement and business in general are not my cup of tea. After that realization I was first afraid to leave my job because I had such great colleagues but decided that I had to in order to pursue my current passion, physics.

Be honest to yourself and quit

During the last years, I have gradually built the courage to do more things my way, no matter what others think, and this finally helped me to decide for the coming physics studies. This kind of a path in life is not a usual one, at least in my culture; rather you study and graduate, go to work, start a family and retire eventually. People taking a side step from the trodden path often hear discouraging comments like:

  • “You are not supposed to do that.”
    • So what are you supposed to do and why?
  • “You are too old to do that.”
    • Maybe you are too old, but I most certainly am not.
  • “That’s just silly.”
    • So what?
  • “And what will you do in five years after…”
    • Does anyone know what they will be doing in five years?

The worse part is that the more open minded people, who are ready to take that side step and change their lives, might let themselves be discouraged by those around them, or they even end up talking themselves out of their dreams. Yet, having the courage to quit what you are doing now and trying something else is essential if you want to find and pursue your passion.

During the last years I have developed and gathered enough strength and willpower, so that I will keep an open mind, not thinking something cannot or shouldn’t be done for some alleged reason; the only way to know for sure is to try. Taking my own path and following my passion, irrespective of what others might think about it, is something I have done too little of. If I do not start studying physics now, I feel that in ten years time I will say to myself: “I wonder what might have been, had I gone back to university ten years ago. I wish I had tried”

I have no regrets that I studied industrial management and worked in procurement, since I cannot tell how the alternative future might have turned out. Maybe, had I started studying physics ten years ago, I might have been discouraged and changed subject eventually. Or maybe I would have become a leading theoretical physicist and would be now working in CERN, who knows. The main point is that the path I have taken this far has helped me find my current passion for natural sciences and physics in particular and that taking a side step on my career path now is the right thing for me to do.

Look for your passion, relentlessly, and when you find it, pursue it no matter where it lies. Don’t be afraid to take a side step. Don’t regret the path taken this far. Don’t be afraid to quit and start a new. Be honest to yourself.

This post was originally written on May 21st and finalized on June 5th 2017.