I happen to be sitting on a flight from Frankfurt to London while writing this post. I just spent the past weekend in both Frankfurt and my former university town, Oestrich-Winkel, which had been the center of my life for 3 years. I came here to celebrate the wedding of two close friends who met during those 3 years. To sum it up: it was tremendously beautiful and also nostalgic at times. I met so many people whom I had not seen for almost 5 years, reconnected with dear friends, got to know many new faces – just the perfect wedding weekend with tons of sun, chatting, dancing and celebrating. At some point we had a break in the wedding agenda, so my friend and I took a cab and drove to our old campus to revisit it for the first time since our graduation in the summer of 2009.
Similarly to how it occurs in movies, we were sitting on the stairs that led down to the campus and reflected over our pasts. I remember vividly what my life was like back then. I was so stressed out about so many things; insecure about myself and in a lot of doubt about my future. Upon graduation, my life progressed really fast: I got a job with Google and moved abroad. I immersed into a completely new world and was thrown into adult life (the post-college adult life this is). Sure, I didn’t leave behind all of my worries, but I certainly didn’t look back very often. So sitting there on campus allowed me to make an easy comparison between what things were like back then and today.
Did all my worries disappear? No, they didn’t. Do I now worry about things that I couldn’t even think of back then? You bet I do. Still, looking back and comparing what my world and mindset were like 5 years ago with what they are now, made me realize one important thing. Namely that in the end, everything is going to just all fine. What sounds like solacing, is certainly more than just that. Most of the things I was worried about in life back then turned out to be all fine in the end. And even if those things didn’t work out, better things came out of them eventually. So I ask myself: If the things that were on my mind 5 years ago are not important anymore today, will the things from today be important then in 5 years?
In the grand scheme of things, life evolves in a cyclic pattern. There are ups and downs just like any cyclical movement, but the overall direction points to the upper right corner. Every down-phase is followed by an up-phase. Yet over time, the down-phases help us build resistance so each following “down” will hit us less harshly. As humans, we tend to strengthen over time. We tend to see things easier and we learn to cope with the “downs” of our lives. Yes, they still hit us hard, but we learn to stand up faster after each time we have been knocked down on the ground.
Coming back to my own comparison, I was easily reminded of the sentence that says: "Everything will be all right in the end If it's not all right then it s not the end”. Some people might look at it and say it’s a circular statement – with no beginning or end – that is hard to rationalize, but I’m a big believer of it (mostly because it turned out to be true so often in my life). The beauty of understanding the cyclical life pattern I mentioned before is that every time things are not going that well in life, you have to know and believe that better things will come; that there will be sunshine after the rain. As a dear friend of mine said to me the other day: “every time when things don’t go well for me, I get quite excited actually. I know it’s just another down-phase that will be followed by a great high. I know it’s just temporary and that chances are that things won’t get worse than that but that there are good things looming on the horizon”.
Knowing this is one thing, believing it is a completely different thing. So while I’m sitting in the airplane looking outside the window, I reflect over all the things that are on my mind right now. I think of my emotional ordeals, of my personal disappointments and of my professional pressures. If I just looked at them as they are, I would be scared and intimidated by their sheer size and gravity. All I would want to do is to surrender to them. But that's now how life is supposed to work nor is the perspective that would allow me to go through life at ease. What I do instead is to take a step back. I detach myself from those fears and disappointments – I zoom out. And instead of just seeing a down-phase of my curve of life, I see that this is just a temporary state and that it will be followed by good times. I even zoom out more and see that there will be more down-phases along the way, but that they are all less grave than this. I put my current situation into context and I realize that what keeps me up at night tonight, will probably not even exist in my life anymore in 5 years. In the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be just all fine in the end.