2020: A Personal Introspection

Moving to the Netherlands, navigating a pandemic & embracing social circles

The last year has been a wild ride. I mean, it’s the middle of January and I’m still typing a reflection. But 2020 has been such an unusual year that I wanted to take a moment to look back.

I’ve picked the areas that were of significant importance to me this year. For each of them I open up the context, dive into a personal introspection and at the end derive personal conclusions for the path ahead.

It’s sometimes messy but hey, I have to start somewhere.

The year in review

Making sense of Family

In January my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Right after new years celebrations and in the midst of me getting ready to move further north. Her going through the clinical process has been the most defining period of the year for me with levels of mental challenges that I didn’t experience before.

At the same time this period unlocked a notion of togetherness that carried warmth throughout the circles of our family. I was touched by the effort and creativity that was made to bring us together. We turned a global family choir more than once, celebrated virtual birthdays in creative ways and sent video messages from one country to the other.

This year I saw that nurturing the familial web builds strong resilience to wander together through what we cannot change and control.

Moving with friends

When it comes to friends, I love one-on-one conversations. I’ve never been particularly enthusiastic about group chats or friend circles and very selective with group activities. It’s not my natural habitat but I’m on a journey to find my place in social situations.

This year was a significant experiment and step out of my comfort zone in that regard. With a group of 3 friends we took a collective decision to move to our neighbour country, the Netherlands.

In hindsight I feel beyond grateful for this decision and for having a circle of people that I get to share this journey with. I’ve long been hesitant to embrace a social circle but with Celine, Leo and Daniel I learned that nurturing lasting relationships is not only fulfilling with individuals but also a path of joy as a group.

They made it easier start off in a new country as friends in the neighbourhood, navigate a pandemic and also way more fun to learn a new language. Their presence is a major contributor in making Utrecht feel like home.

Exploring Utrecht as an Expat

Living in Utrecht for the past 8 months consisted of many cycling trips, walks along the water and some rare bar experiences before the world turned upside down.

I joined the International Welcome Centre as a volunteer, met other expats and together we put our brains together to think of how to improve the life of internationals in the Utrecht Region.

I grew to appreciate the town feeling of Utrecht and the progressive commitment towards healthy urban living.

Being an Entrepreneur

This year has been a tough ride as an entrepreneur. By moving to the Netherlands we took the risk of leaving a safe harbour in Aachen and starting over in a new country.

The pandemic turned new waters into a stormy see and the changing economic climate also brought volatility to our small business. Working from home created blurred lines between work and free time. When the workload peaked, I found myself sitting at the desk at the weirdest times.

Challenges aside we facilitated workshops, hosted events and taught our craft in months long trainings to over 30 participants. We opened the Facilitator School as an island of focus in June. For the first time I realised the magic of the internet at first hand when people joined the community from all corners of the world.

Finding calm in writing

Subject to extraordinary circumstances, distance, work and isolation my mental health concerned me this year. I noticed how work pressure can impact wellbeing significantly and it’s something I’d like to make a 180 turn.

But writing has helped me through the year by seeing my thoughts in written piece. The conversation with myself provided distance, self-compassion and allowed to break the identification with thought.

Lastly writing made me realise the triviality of worries and on the other side of the coin understand when it’s really time to change something.

Personal Intentions

1. Growing imperfect

Through social media we can see people crushing it in life every single day. It can be entertaining and often very inspiring. But I noticed it can also lead to holding back and thinking less of oneself when becoming too enrolled in the journey of others.

My first intention for this year is to look at others with respect but from distance. It is amazing where others are and what they do but it’s completely detached from my current situation.

If my mind remains open but also rests in sufficiency I can be vulnerable, enjoy every moment better and be less shaked up by outside events.

2. Being a Creative Professional

I always enjoyed the idea of finding a path that combines both personal creativity and financial sufficiency. I talk about sufficiency because I don’t want financial opportunities to come at the cost of my creative side and general wellbeing.

There are many paths to follow as a career but I’d like to devote this year to work and learn more in public. One way of doing this is this newsletter. I believe that creativity and creation plays a big role in my wellbeing and this is an attempt to not search for that path but start the process of just going it.

With these 2 major intentions I hope to simplify things and be able to spend time with my favourite people in life while drinking tea, riding the bike or exploring with the backpack.

I wish you a blessed 2021.