photos: Eylül Aslan
I’m looking forward to January 18th. Not only is it my birthday, but, thanks to the almighty coincidence, it’s also going to mark a year since I put my signature on my first WG contract. But metaphorically, although I was quite unaware of it at that time, I signed up for so much more. Saying that Berlin made me grow up wouldn’t be quite enough – any place where you need to pay for your food and rent for the first time would make you grow up. But Berlin, with all its peculiarities, which became evident as I started to get to know more people here, proved to be a very special environment. It made me question virtually everything – the only thing I’m sure of is no matter how often things would escape my mental and/or emotional capacity, I have never entertained the thought of leaving. I like it here.
It sounds like a success. Just a girl doing whatever she likes with her life in a city that she chose, convinced of the fact that otherwise the city itself would have undoubtedly chosen her. But let me tell you, I have actually very rarely been just as fortunate as with this one. For example, I made a bad decision regarding my study program. After I realized that law in German is not something I could study while continuing to work, I dropped out. And there’s nothing else I can study until next year, which basically means a waste of time in my academic endeavors that my still somehow ambitious self is just raging against.
Luckily I was able to quickly reorganize my life, with the coincidence being as helpful as ever. I still understand my initial motivation, but I can admit that I failed. And although I would really hate to come across as being rude, or even worse, sound cliche, I’m pretty sure you failed somewhere too. Life is a complex thing, and really, failure options are so varied and ubiquitous you can’t really escape. And it’s okay.
At least that’s how Berlin feels about it. It’s not for me to judge, but my German friends say the approach to high achieving and meeting your goals is different here than anywhere else in the country. It’s supposedly very German to feel like you need to carry on with whatever it is that you’re doing even though you are not at all enjoying it. People adapt this strategy to a range of different things from relationships to work, but the resulting plain frustration is always the same. Sometimes, it seems, the biggest failure is to pull through.
Because indeed, it would be really nice to take advantage of the simple fact that we’re free to live the life just as we want. Just look further than the paralyzing fear of not having met your set goals and it just may turn out they weren’t your real goals in the first place.
For me, Berlin has a very reassuring quality because of all its different inhabitants. The way you view your failures and the way it affects your self esteem can be defined by how you feel like when you compare yourself with others. In Berlin, chances are a data engineer and a street busker are both among your acquaintances. It’s also really likely that they were both doing entirely different things before they moved here. There’s an amazing diversity to this town, a diversity that implicitly promotes acceptance – and while you learn to love and understand others, don’t forget about yourself.