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Copenhagen Business School

Being everywhere with your mind somewhere outside of this galaxy

Madina Balgabek. (Photo: Mette Koors)

Blog |   29. Aug 2018

Life comes with tons of insecurities and fears. One of the biggest fear of our time is to fail to fulfill the potential we have with birth.

When we are born, we are the most special for our parents, regardless of our health condition we come with.

I grew up believing that I was special. I had a very solid belief that I can achieve anything I desire, if only I truly and deeply desire it. The more mature I get, the faster this belief fades away. Sometimes I call it a pessimism that I should cut off like a bad tumor, sometimes I call it the reality that I should grow up to. No matter what it is for me, the statement holds and more or less extends to anybody. Some will devote their lives to achieve it, some will give up prioritizing something else. As many of us do eventually anyway.

When you are a child, it is easier to persuade yourself in many things, the existence of ghosts, the ability to fly if jump higher, an invitation to study at Hogwarts and more. The older you get, the more failures you have during your life path and it shakes your faith that maybe you are not good enough, smart enough, fast enough. Then it adds up with things that happen in life that we call “unfair” events.

The years pass by, failures visit you more and more and you decide to cheat on karma. You think, alright, if I do many things at the same time, one must fulfill, and I should win at least somewhere. So, you pack your calendar, disregarding your health, sleep, and sometimes meals. You are everywhere, and your mind is somewhere outside this galaxy. So here is my story that each time I repeat, I will not allow, but eventually, it becomes déjà vu.

During my bachelor’s degree years, sometimes I would have 8 weeks straight without weekends, buried in conferences, free training courses, leadership events, and a double degree, or exchange lectures. Surprisingly, my body managed to handle that hamster life. Occasionally when I had a day off, the burning feeling of guilt would cover my head and I would start planning my next 8-week period of no relief. I graduated with a so-called “red diploma,” which in Kazakhstan means to graduate with honors or magna cum laude. I made an agreement with myself that 80 percent of the effort in getting the highest grade and participating in all the conferences in the city will only give me 20 percent satisfaction and pride, further maybe even less in finding a dream job. So, my master years began and I came up with the idea that I will do my best to learn to enjoy my adolescence and be alright if I get the second or third highest grade. To a very painful realization, my grades were the first or second from the bottom of the chart instead, and at the same time a shock that I have never learned to relax and enjoy life. I could hardly accept failure on both fronts. It was time to fail big time – I left that master program.

Here, the thought of cheating karma turned to me again. So here I am again, doing the same mistakes with a full conscious acceptance that this is stupid, (but necessary).

I run the first semester of a new master study alongside a bachelor in Japanese language and culture from a Swedish University remotely, I take Danish language classes twice a week and have two student jobs. All of the extras put me right in the hand of a psychologist who visits once a week. I recover and start the year with an internship, pause, the bachelor, take a couple of retakes trying to get the wheel of my life car back in control. I am not straight 12’s, but I am alright. I use common sense and a pinch of risk.

But now, I am smart. And yes, I can say that out loud. I put my health, both mental and physical in the first place. It is easier to care about yourself once you have been on the other side of the rope. I pat myself over the shoulder when I push harder to get out of bed and it works out. And I allow myself “bad days”. Because you know why? Bad days happen even in the most balanced minds, so let it be.

To end with a short story, a sultan asks his wise men to bring him a phrase that will make him humble in happy moments and comfort in the sad, they brought him a phrase: “and this, too, shall pass away”.

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