November 15, 2011

Inspiring Change in Extra Time

It's winter term 2011/12 and I'm coming closer to the end of my graduate studies at Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin. I've already gained all necessary credit points which means I could fully concentrate on my master's thesis now. However, the question of what to do and where to go after graduation had been lingering on my mind for almost one year and it was a really tough decision because I knew that irrespective of the outcome it would be connected to many changes in my life and also some changes in the lives of my family and friends. Since I've finally found an answer to this personally very important question, I want to share it and spread the vision connected to it. Today, I look back at the long way to this decision and I can proudly announce that once again it was the right decision to spend some time on this process and to listen to my heart.

I'm going to stay in Berlin for some extra time to take charge of the preparations for the International Geosciences Student Conference 2013. Beyond the actual conference, I see the golden opportunity to inspire long-awaited change in the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region and among the members of the international geoscience community.

While I've talked to so many people who are absolutely amazed and motivated by the idea of bringing the IGSC to Germany, people's reactions to my individual decision have ranged from astonishment to laughter or even calling this foolish or an unforseeable risk. From time to time this makes me wonder because how can we actually believe in an idea if we're not willing to stake our very own existence on its realization? I do and I totally believe that in some years from now our individual sacrifices of today will be remembered as fruitful investments in our very own future and the future of our whole community. My fire burns and I promise that one day not far from now this will become a conflagration.

I definitely appreciate the sincerity of my professors who advised me to graduate this year and leave because I wouldn't be able to tap my full potential here in Berlin. However, I think different because in the end it depends on how you define your potential. There are many students out there who have enjoyed a more exploration-focused education and therefore outperform me in some technical aspects, but in the end there is so much more we have to learn in our lives.

If we blindly follow given pathways, we become mimics of the people who created them or even mimics of those people who followed them before us which is even worse. With time, these pathways become so deep and guiding that we fear to lose our ability to follow our dreams and to understand our true value for the people around us. Believe me that by now I certainly also know my value for any company or scientific institution. I could start Ph.D. studies at Stanford University or the Colorado School of Mines, but I won't. I also could join ExxonMobil, Maersk Oil or some other petroleum exploration company, but I won't. It's not like I wouldn't care because some months ago these actually were my favourite choices and I'm still strongly emotionally connected to them but for the time being this has to wait.

I have faith that this extra time here in Berlin will soon outperform any conventional next career step by orders of magnitude. Probably this will again cause some people in their given pathways to laugh, but if those people have to actually see it before they find the courage to share this faith, they are cordially invited to witness.


BB said...

Cool post Aurelian! Following your intuition @ this stage is definitely the best thing to do and I believe too will end up being more rewarding than a rather "rational" choice. In my case, the best decision I've ever made so far was to decline a M.Sc @ Zurich's famous polytechnical school to rather leave Switzerland for the Canadian wild west! Now, I wouldn't come back to my home country for all the world's gold... Good luck with the organization of the 2013 IGSC!

Aurelian Roeser said...

Thanks for your comment.

There is a highly fitting quote by John D. Rockefeller about exactly these unconventional career decisions: “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” That's pretty much what I believe in.

Western Canada is quite close to my heart as well. It has this special aura that keeps you captivated to its beautiful landscapes and people. It's so addictive! :-D