Life is responding to you – what comes after graduation

It’s been almost four years since I first moved to Munich and started studying Sinology. I had never planned studying chinese and I was definitely not one of those “Asia addicts”. I wasn’t even really interested in China. I was just interested in learning another language and somehow ended up with Chinese. And I sticked to it. One of the reasons is probably, that finishing things, pushing through and not giving up is part of my personality. If I start something – and if it’s not something that i absolutely hate- then I finish it. another reason is, that I fell in love with the Chinese language and the culture, especially the philosophy. I have always been a little philospher and I spend a lot of time thinking about life and sense and purpose and meaning….In my three years of studying Sinology, I discovered the beauty of Chinese philosophy. I read Laozi, Confucius, Zhuangzi and many more and I loved getting lost in their teachings for hours. The first time I read Laozi’s Daodejing was about three years ago. I read a German translation of it and although I didn’t fully understand the meaning of his words, I loved it, just because of his poetic style and his use of words. Then, about two and a half years later I did some research for my thesis and I read it again, but this time I read the origimal version in traditional Chinese. Anyone who ever translated traditional Chinese texts knows that it can take you an hour to translate just one single paragraph and that it can be exhausting and annoying, but it in the end it is worth it. I had done a lot of reading about Daoism before and I discovered that there were so many parallels to what I believe in. Reading the Daodejing for the first time, I liked it, but reading it in its original version and with all the background knowledge I had now, it just blew me away. I started thinking that Laozi’s my soulmate, cause I  could see myself in so many things he said and I read some paragraphs again and again.

One of my favourite paragraphs is this one, because I agree with every word he says. Giving up on things that society tells you are important and focussing on the true things, the real things, that’s what it is all about. Wishing for less and by that getting more than you ever had before, that’s how you experience what the universe is capable of. What you are capable of. Letting go of things that you are doing with force and making room for things you are doing with passion, will make you realize how little you need and how happy that will make you. By following your true nature, you will experience how effortless things can be done.

其安易持,其未兆易謀。其脆易泮,其微易散。為之於未有,治之於未亂。合抱之木,生於毫末;九層之臺,起於累土;千里之行,始於足下。為者敗之,執者失 之。是以聖人無為故無敗;無執故無失。民之從事,常於幾成而敗之。慎終如始,則無敗事,是以聖人欲不欲,不貴難得之貨;學不學,復衆人之所過,以輔萬物之 自然,而不敢為。

That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has begun.
The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the tower of nine storeys rose from a  heap of earth; the journey of a thousand li commenced with a single step.
He who acts with an ulterior purpose does harm; he who takes hold of a thing in the same way loses his hold. The sage does not act so, and therefore does no harm; he does not lay hold so, and therefore does not lose his bold. (But) people in their conduct of affairs are constantly ruining them when they are on the eve of success. If they were as careful at the end, as  at the beginning, they would not so ruin them.
Therefore the sage desires not to desire, and does not prize things difficult to get; he learns what other men do not learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed by. Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does not dare to act.

Laozi 64

 

In the past four years I found out so many things about myself and what I want from life and Sinology and my year in China definitely played an important in that process. I am proud of myself for finishing my degree in of the most difficult languages and I am proud of myself that instead of taking the easy way and going to the lectures with the nice teacher or the easy exam, I always picked the classes I was truely interested in and didn’t only care about the grades and stuff. I didn’t only study for my degree, I studied for the purpose of studying, for finding my passions and for doing what I was interested in. And I don’t regret it at all. Some weeks ago I had a little ‘graduation panic’, also because a degree in Sinology doesn’t give you the best chances for a successful career or a safe job. Like many others I thought I had to do something ‘proper’ now. I asked a lot of people and they all told me, I should do something with business, because that combined with my Chinese skills would open a lot of doors for me careerwise. I knew that that was not what I wanted. I am not a business person. Neither do I want to do business nor help other people to do business, that’s not where I see myself. Then I had another idea: I have a job, a job that I actually really like, I teach languages. So I thought, why not make that your career!? So instead of doing something with business, I could do a Masters in teaching German as a foreign language. When I told people about it, some said that they think I shouldnt get stuck with teaching because that way I am not gonna reach my full potential and that I could do so much more, others said that it’s good, as long as I do a Masters, cause a Masters is always good. After all these reactions and suggestions of other people, i sat down and I tried to think about this whole future thing again, but from a totally different perspective, think about what I really want and what feels right for me and not about what might sound reasonable and ‘not so bad’. Why would I wanna do something that is not so bad, if I can do things that are interesting and exciting? Just because it is the easy way, the safer choice? That’s not me. That’s so not me.

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So i thought about what is important me, where I wanna see myself in future and what I am passionate about. Here is the result: I want a job that I enjoy doing, I want a job that pays for my bills, but not more. I want to work, but I also want freetime. I want challenges and goals, but I don’t want to stress about my job and constantly think about it. And I want to have time for different projects and things that I want to try out. While thinking about all these things, I realized that the answer to all of my questions was right in front of me: I have a job, that I enjoy and that pays for my bills. Teaching gives me the opportunity to share my passion for languages with other people and to speak different languages every day. Besides it gives me enough time, freedome and flexibility to do other things I am interested in, like writing and sketching. This might not lead to a big career, but I am not interested in that anyways. I might earn less than I could,but people who know me, know that I don’t need a lot. I might earn less than others, but I still earn more than I need. So no masters, no business, no big career. Just me and my freedome and my passions. Why would I stress myself out with a career I don’t want, in order to earn money I don’t need? Just because that’s what people expect from me? Just because I am smart enough to do a masters? Just because of the prestige that comes with a masters and a managing position? No, thanks.

Now a lot of people are gonna say: Maybe that’s what you are thinking now, but once you get older, you will want more and you will have different standards…Yes, that might be, I highly doubt it, but yes, that might be. So what? Who says, that you have to decide on your whole future life right now. If in future you are not happy, you can always change. You can make new decisions and you can do other things, there always gonna be new opportunities. But I am not gonna ruin my present, doing things that I don’t really wanna do, just because there is a 10% chance that I might change my mind in future. I want to write, I want to draw, I want to be creative and I want to learn more languages, because that’s what I am passionate about. That’s what makes me enjoy life. So that’s what I am gonna do. I might never make any money from my writing and maybe I am never gonna finish my book, but it is definitely worth a try. Go and chase your dreams, find out what you are passionate about and go for it, no matter what people say. Forget about what’s reasonable or normal or safe and delve right into what’s moving your heart and exciting your mind. If you really want something, you will achieve it. You must embody what you are calling in. If you go for something, take with you your all. Don’t just put one toe into the water, just to pull it right back, if the water is a bit cold. Throw yourself into the water and appreciate how it makes you feel alive. Life is it not happening to you, it is responding to you. You have the power to lead your life into any direction. So don’t walk around with all of your passion and power hidden inside of you, let it out and let all of that reveal itself. Get out of your own way and start giving from your passion.

4 thoughts on “Life is responding to you – what comes after graduation

  1. Good thoughts Maria and very true to pursue your dreams but unfortunately your priorities of life WILL change as you get older and if you become a mother.
    So all I can add is that in the long run as you will need more income for life, you will be paid for your experience, not your talent and remember, experience cannot be bought or taught.
    Roger

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  2. Wish you could share the name and edition of german translated text.I start to apply to LMU München for a master degree study majoring in “Sinologie”from China.During the application period,chinese students should pass the APS test held by German embassy to prove our professional qualification.Test includes several parts which need express professional knowledge in german.We study Sinologie in chinese and have poorly resources in german-chinese translation version.

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    • hey ! I used the one by Rainald Simon from 2009. I actually studied Sinologie at the LMU in Munich 😉 let me know if you get accepted, or if you need any tips

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