Steps towards a dream
Since moving to Germany, I have struggled to find a long-term goal to guide my daily actions. My dream of living abroad, particularly in Germany, had been with me since my early twenties, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I committed to making it a reality. To prepare for this move, I left my hometown and spent time in Tehran, where I gained valuable experience working in technology companies and tested my ability to live independently in a different city while dealing with the challenges that come with it.
After spending two years in Tehran, I accepted a job offer in Malaysia, as it was another step towards my goal of living in Europe. Despite facing numerous challenges, such as being unable to open a bank account as an Iranian, receiving my salary in cash, and dealing with outdated technologies and narcissistic higher ups, I persisted through these difficulties as they were a part of my journey. The only thing that kept me going was my end goal of living in Europe, even during the pandemic when I was alone with no contact with anyone. These challenges were daunting, but I was determined to prove to myself that I had the resilience to continue on.
The dream come true
After much perseverance, I finally received a job offer from Endava Berlin and was ecstatic. As I applied for a visa, the process was stressful and I had many anxious moments, wondering what would happen if my visa was rejected. I prepared for all possible outcomes, even accepting the idea of returning to Iran and reapplying for a job in Germany. However, my fortunes turned for the better, and I booked a flight to Berlin on November 19th, 2021. I began my new job at Endava Berlin on September 1st, 2021.
A punch in the face
However, despite everything appearing to have been as I had always hoped (e.g. having had a good job with a good income, living in a nice apartment, having had enough time to invest in my hobbies), I found myself feeling unfulfilled. Life didn’t seem to be as easy or satisfying as I had expected it to be. I had no long-term goals to work towards and I found that my happiness had not improved since moving here. I was surprised that I was still struggling mentally in a way that I did before coming to Germany. Life had lost its meaning and I had tried different things such as learning the German language, reading books, watching movies, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and even cycling, which had always been one of my favorite activities, but nothing seemed to bring me joy.
The fact that I have tried many different activities in my free time to give me a sense of productivity but I have not been disciplined enough to continue them, has made me more depressed. I saw myself as a failure, questioning why I couldn’t stick to one activity and make the most of my free time. I felt that something was wrong and I couldn’t keep doing the things I always wanted to do. I struggled to focus on anything and found myself constantly daydreaming or thinking about irrelevant topics. As the days passed, I grew increasingly anxious, knowing that I was in my thirties and running out of time to make something of my life. I felt that people had a clear idea of what they wanted to do with their lives by a certain age, and I was the only one who didn’t have any idea of my purpose. The feeling of uselessness consumed me and I often blamed myself for my lack of progress. I grew anxious when I looked back at the days, weeks, or months and realized that I hadn’t accomplished anything.
Then I realized that the root of my feelings of emptiness was the lack of a long-term goal. My entire life had been focused on achieving this one goal of living in Germany, and now that I had achieved it, I didn’t know what to strive for next. I reached out to friends who had also emigrated from Iran and found that they had been able to move on and create new goals for themselves. One of them shared that having small, daily goals, being more social and being in a relationship helped him find happiness. I explained to him that while I had tried these things, they felt pointless without a larger purpose guiding me.
After struggling for about a year, I found myself experiencing thoughts of ending everything. It was then that I realized the struggle I was facing was more serious than I had initially thought and I knew that I needed to take action to solve it before it consumed me. One night, I had a conversation with my friend and housemate about my mental issues and he provided me with some valuable insight that helped me see the problem from a different perspective. It was after this discussion that I felt I was closer to finding an answer. I knew that if I put enough energy into thinking and talking about my struggles, I could find a solution. I began exploring different sources of information such as books, blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos to help me overcome my feelings of emptiness and somehow giving me a sense of purpose.
Finding the answer
I booked a flight to Mallorca for the Christmas holiday season of 2022-2023 with the intention of staying there for a week. My goal was to find a purpose in life that was worth dedicating myself to. I spent most of my time alone, visiting different beaches and sitting for hours to reflect and write about my struggles. One evening, I came across a hiking event on Airbnb experiences hosted by Penelope, who had a podcast about connecting with nature. The event involved meditation, something I had experience with, and as I loved hiking, I decided to attend. I was the only participant and Penelope was excited and surprised to see me. The hike lasted for two hours and we talked about various topics. I opened up to Penelope about my struggles and shared my feelings of having no purpose, unhappiness and anxiety. It was during the hike that she suggested we think about things we wanted to eliminate from our lives. I reflected on what I didn’t want and realized I didn’t want to feel the way I did, to be anxious all the time, to lose my focus by thinking about unimportant topics, to get angry easily, or to constantly criticize others. I realized that I wanted to be a happier person, to not be depressed. I imagined myself in the future, looking back and realizing that even though I was once mentally broken, I was able to overcome my struggles and become healthier both mentally and physically.
Achieving a life free from depression, anxiety, and loneliness may take a significant amount of time and effort. However, I believe that this goal is worth devoting my life to. I plan to document my progress here, as not only will it help me improve my writing skills, but it will also serve as a reminder of my progress. Furthermore, I have come to realize the power of sharing my thoughts and struggles with others. Until recently, I believed that I was the only one who had thoughts about useless stuff and daydreaming about scenarios that hasn’t been happened and will not happen ever. But when I shared my thoughts about wanting to eliminate useless neurons in my brain that are responsible for these types of thoughts with a friend, he assured me that everyone has them. Even during a hike with Penelope, she made a comment about physical activity being a way for our brains to communicate with us, and how breaking sticks could symbolize getting rid of useless thoughts. Her comment was surprising to me as I had not yet shared my conversation with my friend with her.
Despite the challenges I have faced, I remain determined to improve my mental and emotional well-being. I have come to understand that external factors alone cannot bring true happiness, and that true contentment must come from within. As Neil Gaiman so eloquently stated, hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go. However, I am confident in my ability to make positive changes in my life and reach a point where I can look back with pride on my journey. I am aware that this process will take time, but I am committed to seeing it through and emerging stronger and more content than ever before.
“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final” - Rainer Maria Rilke