One year in Paris | Stream of Consciousness #3

So it’s been already one year in Paris. One year that I decided to switch my life around, leave Belgium for France and to reboot several parts of my life. The decision wasn’t easy, but the bet wasn’t too risky. After one year here it seemed necessary to write things down and look at the road so far.

Professional Life

I can say that this was the best decision of my life. Moving to Paris allowed me to reboot a giant part of my life for the better. In Belgium, I always felt I was stuck because of my bachelor degree (blocking me from strategic possibilities) and because of the professional landscape. While I do love my country, there was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around, it was how so many people settle for something good enough. This lack of ambition and vision slowly killed me while being there, moving from the country changed that.

But France isn’t that much better I’d say. There’s certainly a kind of ambition lying here and there, but it revolves mostly about being the french version of something else. They can’t seem to open their eyes to the outside world, focusing solely on their local market and competitors. Fortunately some people start to move things around and it’s for the best. I also realised how much this country is focused on words instead of acts. Here you’ll find 100 people able to tell you how you should do things, be bitter, angry or resentful, but in the end very few will get their hands dirty and get to work. This is not a behaviour I want to adopt.

After several talks with the company I work with, I was awarded some responsibilities that could help it grow. I’m deeply grateful for this chance, as this give me the unique opportunity to help other people grow and develop another mindset. I’m still trying to figure things out, and I know that the way I act most of the time is not really business wise, but reaching 30 years old I decided it was more important to be true to myself than to act the way corporate people would like me to act. So I’ll still crack a joke here and there, I will still talk to people across the company whatever their positions might be, and I will still be bored as hell during a 2 hour Powerpoint meeting.

I’ll also be able to give a training on GV’s Design Sprint in September (and several other dates), a workshop I truly love and which can accomplish great things with the right people. This alongside with the chance to have taught at the Gobelins (a school I admired when I was younger) felt like crossing things on my bucket list and felt damn good.

In my previous stream of consciousness, I was expressing how my professional life took a toll on my mental state, I can now say that those dark clouds are over. I have so many things I’d like to accomplish and so many things to put in motion that I’m truly looking forward to get my hand dirty in September.

Personal Projects

Beginning of June I started a small newsletter project called Tranches de Livres. My purpose was to write each week about a book I read, what I learned from it and how people could apply it in their daily life. So far I’ve managed to write every week and got around 125 people to read it which is far more than I thought would be possible.

This little project allowed me to dive back in important books of my life and what they taught me as well as to be able to give back to other people everything I had learned along the way. It also helps me to decide what I should read next and made me talk a lot about deeply interesting subjects with various people. Something I missed a lot in my life from time to time.

Growth

I’ve just finished my 59th book for this year. I learned a lot of things through the books I read even if some were quite deceitful. This helped me wrap my mind around a lot of things and reach the goals I set to myself in the last stream : meditation ✅, push ups everyday ✅ (around 30 a day now, started at 5), cook more ✅ (ok, this is also because I want to lose weight), write more and launch the newsletter ✅✅.

During the last months I learned to structure a bit more my mind and what I wanted to say as well as when I wanted to say it. This helped me have meaningful conversations that lead to several life changing decisions concerning my professional life.

I also realised I had a giant problem with the way I was seeing myself. After years of battling dark thoughts (on which I want to write next), I thought the battle was over, but I realised that the way I was physically seeing myself was a big problem in my psyche. So I went back to therapy (CBT) to try to solve that, and I hope it’ll solve things out. I just never realised, hidden behind other problems, how I couldn’t stand the way I look, this grew to proportions I just can’t stand anymore : refusing to have my picture taken, refusing to see a recording, hiding my image feed on the screen when doing a video call, … This is not something I want to live with anymore, and certainly something that isn’t true. So I’ve got a big work to do on that, but I’m crossing fingers, I’ve battled worse demons.

Next Steps

  • Keep on the session with my therapist
  • Swim once to twice a week
  • Keep on cookin
  • Meditate (almost) each day (we all have very busy days sometimes)

Changes & Toll | Stream of Consciousness #2

So here we are, end of April, and a lot of things happened since the first stream and I’m still quite surprised about the magnitude of the changes, the impact on my mind and energy. As my mind is clogged again, it was time to relieve a bit the pressure and put things in perspective to be able to go ahead with a clear head.

Professional Life

Things went to evolve in unexpected ways and I’m glad they did. I’m taking a new role as real Lead in my professional life, having to manage 5 people and ensure their well-being. While it’s quite interesting, I’m a bit concerned about the fact that all those people are quite great. Don’t mistake me, that’s a great team to manage, but I learn to grow through difficulties, and I’m afraid I’m not learning enough without at least one black sheep (but when I’ll have one trust me I’ll hate myself for writing this).

I also gained a supportive role in my company, being able to welcome newcomers, set a nice welcome path, but also to create growth opportunities for them and anyone who’s not afraid to grow. Working hand in hand with others, we started to create a growth e-mail course to be able to maximize the potential of our new recruits and we’re going to implement it quite soon (still beta testing some of this).

I gave a talk about the impostor syndrome, something I’d never think I’d do. It went really nice, in fact I wish I had the ability to duplicate myself regarding all the discussions that this talk sparked. So much great people, so much shared experiences, this was really a great moment (even if it was frightening at first). The talk is available here. I also had the chance to write some articles for my company, but there’s still a lof I want to write about.

As for the company, I still love it quite deeply and don’t regret being a part of it. However, as for all companies, there’s some things I’d like to change, see evolve, and aim for a better. But this time I have the chance to make a change, so I’ll do my best to invest myself in proposing and implementing those changes for a better. And I really hope this will do a lot of good and improve a company I already respect quite a lot.

However, I have to handle a lot of politics and related topics, so this is taking a toll on my mental state, leading me to be quite exhausted. I’m slowly trying to distanciate myself to be able to take back my energy and jump back on my feet. While being an empath is great and transform you in a touchpoint for everyone in need to talk, I still have to find a correct way to declutter my mind and distanciate from other’s problems. Ongoing…

Personal Projects

I’ve got a lot of ideas in my mind. As I’m reading quite a lot of books during the year, and keeping notes in a common place book (in fact it’s more of a file), I’m wondering if there was a way I could capitalize on that. So far I’m thinking about either a newsletter (… and it’s done !). I’ll give it some thoughts, it’s something I could work on this summer.

On the side, I’ve decided to go back to code, so I’m trying to learn how to handle javascript in a better way and aim to start a framework just as Vue.js. I also started to experiment with UI to improve my skill set, but both those are for my personal life. Unfortunately, I discovered that the more skills you have, the more roles are expected from you and this is something I don’t want. I had parts of my life where I had to work several roles, and it lead to not being able to do any of those correctly because of a lack of time. This is something I won’t do again.

Growth

I read a lot of things lately that help me grow and made up my mind on some things. A new cardinal rule I set for people is now Acta non verba, meaning that if a person doesn’t act and just keep on a talking, his words aren’t worth shit. Same goes for talking about values and not living according to them. I’m tired of people spending their days giving by morality lessons on how society / government should behave while not implementing those changes in their personal life. Be the change you want to see in the world, is still the biggest motto ever.

Same I don’t believe in society as a separate entity. Society is a set of people, therefore it’s important to implement changes on the people scale. Expecting the “society” to implement it is reliving some unsolved daddy issue. If we want to change society, we have to do it on our level, than go all the way to the top.

Skin in the Game — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Love life

Things happen when you don’t expect them too, and I guess this is true. While I decided to stop worrying about dating and things like that, I met someone really great. The start of our relationship hasn’t been the best, we both hoped for a cleaner start, but I must say that the last 3 months have been really great and this relationship is everything I could expect (kudos to him ❤).

Next Steps

Some things I want to implement for the next months

  • Meditate again everyday
  • Push ups everyday (Kaizen way)
  • Start the newsletter
  • Cook more instead of eating outside
  • Learn to distanciate myself through meditation
  • Write more when I need to empty my mind.

Changes & conscious choices | Stream of Consciousness #1

I’ve been living in Paris now for more than 6 months. The reasons that made me leave my country were multiple: lack of intellectual stimulus, feeling of getting stuck in a career path too soon, uninteresting professional landscape and way too much memories everywhere. After six months, my mind is a bit clogged and need some relief to structure things a bit.

Professional Life

On this part I must say that I got everything that I expected. My career evolved in the most interesting way and at an incredible pace those last months, and the coming months promise interesting challenges I couldn’t expect to find in Belgium. It seems that in order to evolve you have to break things and dare to jump. While it has been a bit frightening, I’m really happy with the results.

Concerning the French professional world, things are quite different. I think the main part is how much the personal side affects work and how everything is tied to human relationships (and no clear division between work and its producer). From time to time I have the feeling of being stuck in a Game of Thrones episode, which isn’t quite pleasant as I’m usually the kind of person that tend to avoid conflict when it’s unnecessary and who try to be honest. Politics and powerplay makes navigating into the French professional landscape quite strange.

Colleagues & friends

While I always thought myself as more of an introvert, I discovered that I needed people around me way more than I thought. And on this side I’ve been quite lucky, the people have met until here, mainly thanks to my work and social networks have been both intellectually challenging and profoundly humans. I discovered tremendous people and some of them already play a big part in my life and in the span of 6 months became really important for me, some of them I can really call close friends. I’ve also discovered friends with whom I can be totally myself, without any needs for barriers or anything, which felt quite as a relief when I lived most of my life using a fake self persona to go through social life.

However, there’s a dark side to this. While work helped me to connect easily with people in an interesting way, I found the way people behave here in Paris quite strange. I tried to connect outside my circle but always felt that you somehow need to gain the right to talk to some people. After some time trying to engage into unilateral conversations, I decided to dedicate my time to my friends here and colleague and avoid some areas (I’ll develop).

Gay places, apps and lgbt life in general

I’ve always had troubles getting into the LGBT life, and wrote quite a lot about it. But after some years of trying, I’ve decided to take some radical decisions and cut the ties with anything related to it. I’ve deleted both the dating apps (which helped me rebuild my self esteem and personal energy) and quit the LGBT associations I was part of.

The main reasons were both the fact that I didn’t felt I needed to keep on trying to have conversations where I had to gain some divine right to talk to the person. In fact, I was exhausted to always be the one leading the discussion without any feedback. This hit me after meeting a friend’s friend for the 4th time and when he realized he didn’t knew a single thing about me… because he never returned any answer.

The second reason was the perpetual drama. As I said I hate conflict, especially unnecessary conflict. I couldn’t take anymore the relationships drama going all around, keeping in mind who wanted to talk to who, who was deadly enemy and things like that.

This also lead me to leave my main Twitter account and focus on my professional one. Since then I feel like I’m able to breath and feel generally better about myself.

Rebuilding a social circle

With all this I’ve rebuilt a social circle of what I consider to be people both intellectually challenging but also benevolent people. Being with them makes me grow, evolve and learn. And I’m assured that any drama coming my way won’t be unnecessary but something that requires time, dedication and help to grow.

I’ve taken steps to remove all the toxic people from my life, but also the people who hurt me even not willingly. I have enough good and close friends to keep on hurting myself.

Dating

I’ve deleted the apps to give myself a bit of breath but also because I realized several things. The first one is that the reason that make me synchronize with a human being are quite blurry, and hard to define. This lead to a lot of search on the dating apps to find those special people I could connect to. But spending a lot of time on those apps takes a deadly toll: self esteem destruction, constant comparison toward society ideals, rejection, … The fact was that I was investing a lot of time on those for maybe 1% return of investment. Not a great idea.

The second reason was that I realized I needed time for myself. The previous years haven’t been kind on the sentimental level and I was barely able to stand up again. While I think I have a lot to offer, it’s time also for me to meet someone who’s ready to invest into a relationship as much as I am. I realized that those things would come in time, but that now, I didn’t have any energy left, nor the capacity to handle another failure. I can accept to welcome things as they come, but can’t invest in this area of my life all by myself at the moment.

In contradiction, I’ve realized that I was ready for someone to enter my life. While it’s still healing, my heart finally stopped aching. I’m still in defensive mode, so the next one will have some battles to fight, but still, I’m ready to accept someone for who he’s and not because I’m in pain. And that’s quite an evolution. The thing I expect from a soulmate became also quite precise which helped me quite a lot.

The next steps

I thought I’d stay 5 years here, but reconsidering some parts (mainly how the society works and things I’ve expressed here), I think I’d switch to 3 years then see another place. I realized there was much to discover still and places to go, and I’m too eager to stay in some place I don’t really love.

I wanted to tackle a master in management, but I realized that this was important only for the French society. The competences I’ve gained and will gain in the coming months will be more valuable than any paper I could gain, and the financial and time costs would be way too heavy for what I could gain. There are other ways to evolve that will suit me better, so I’m still giving me sometime to think about.

And that’s aaaall for the moment.

P.S. : Thanks to Yoan for this idea, it indeed helps a lot.