It feels like it’s high time for an update here. So many things have happened this past year that I’m not entirely sure I’ve had time to appropriately reflect upon them. This post will be my sincere attempt at covering the most important of them.
I think I should start off with some backstory.
At the end of 2015 I hit the proverbial wall after a fall term that definitely got the better of me – this following a period of less than four years of working as a teacher full time. Preceding this I had spent 5+ years studying to become an upper secondary school teacher in English (as a second language) and religious studies.
The collapse was the result of me being given way too many tasks to perform in a way too narrow frame of time. One of the reasons I became a teacher in the first place is that I care about people. Thus the realization that I did not have the time to be there for all my 100+ young students (and not for lack of trying my darnedest, mind you) was one of the things that broke me (coupled of course with the immense stress, sleepless nights, daily threats and insults that are also given parts of the teaching job). So I quit.
Spring term 2016 I worked part time at another school, but only in order to pay my bills. I knew that the situation was unsustainable, and that I would have to do something drastic in order to keep my head above the waves of anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me at every turn.
One of my greatest passions in life is and has always been writing and storytelling. When I was a kid I always told myself and the world that I was “going to be a writer” when I grew up. Growing older and hopefully more mature, I realized that one does not simply walk into Mordor, so to speak, and that I would have to get a “real job”. Thus the teacher thing. I had been freelancing as a pop culture reporter for the local newspaper since 2007, but the thought that I could actually honor my childhood dream by becoming a real journalist had never seriously struck my mind.
But then and there, at the beginning of 2016, when my mind was falling apart and the smallest and simplest things threatened to send me crying and falling into pieces, one of my closest friends reacted. She told me something that I will always remember:
“This is not you. This is what you do: Pick two of your most important dreams, and then spend this coming year fighting with everything you have to make those dreams come true.”
And so I did. I jumped.
I gave up teaching. I sold off all the things I did not need and rented out my apartment. I enrolled to a one-year journalism education (a follow-up to an Internet based class I had taken previously) and moved to Stockholm.
I spent the second half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 studying journalism, and slowly realized that this is what I was always meant to be doing. I learned much and made important friends and contacts. I learned things about myself that I would never have learned if I had not risked everything and jumped.
I also managed to get an internship at Aftonbladet, Sweden’s biggest evening newspaper, where I was also later employed. There I met many new friends and grew even more as a journalist. It would be an understatement to say that I had, if not the, then at least one of, the greatest times of my life.
When my contract was about to end I was offered to stay on board as a researcher for their TV-station, and initially I happily accepted. But then things happened.
A close family member fell ill and passed away while I was living in Stockholm. I managed to get back to my home town Gävle just in time to see her one last time, but the loss broke me once more. I realized the hard way what I had known all along: that friends and family is incredibly important to me, and that while I had landed my dream job 200 kilometers away in Stockholm, being so far from my close ones was driving me to a very dark and lonely place on the inside.
So I declined the job offer at Aftonbladet and moved home. I got my old apartment back, and retrieved my beloved cat-companion Sushi (image above) from my sister’s place where she had been living for this past year. Luckily, I managed to get a job at a newspaper staff in Falun, a neighboring town to Gävle. A full time, permanent employment as a digital/social media editor and reporter. Those of you who have insight into the journalistic job market in Sweden know how incredibly rare it is for Swedish journalists to have permanent employments. Thus I feel extremely lucky, and the fact that both my colleagues and my job assignments are great only adds to this.
So now I am back where I started, but with so many exceptions I can hardly count them. I have a job that I love, a salary that allows me to live and not just survive, a bunch of new realizations about myself and a second education to lean back on.
Apart from all this I have also fulfilled one of the two dreams that my wonderful friend inspired me to chase. The first one, namely, was becoming a journalist.
Getting back up again after this summer’s loss and grief has not been easy, and I am not sure I am entirely back on my feet yet even now. But I am glad that I made it back home in time to see her. I know that she is proud of me, wherever she is. She told me many times while she was alive how happy she was for me, that things were going my way in Stockholm and in life.
I have not been able to write much since the day it happened, and I quit my micro fiction writing on Twitter almost entirely that day. But even as I’m writing this I can feel inspiration and creativity slowly returning to me. Maybe I’m starting to heal, or maybe it’s just the season. I have a history since childhood of what I suspect is what they call seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and autumn is always the easiest time for me.
Anyway, things are looking up, and I’m feeling quite good today. So good, in fact, that I think I will open up Word and try to get some writing done.
This would be a really good thing, because you know what? The second dream I chose to fight for back then, when my friend intervened in my destructive spiral, was “Getting a book published”.
And I think it is high time to start fighting for that dream now.
Thank you for reading, it really means a lot to me.
All the best,