One Friday in November, I came home from work late. I was crashed and frustrated, because I too often feel like it’s impossible to keep up with all the smart and insanely ambitious people around me. I sat on the kitchen table for an hour that Friday, still wearing my winter coat, questioning everything I had done in my life so far. I got myself together after a while, and decided to distract myself with some stupid TV shows when a news app let my phone buzz: There were reports of several shootings in Paris.
There was so much uncertainty at first, but with what unfolded that night, I couldn’t help regretting my little quarter life crisis nervous breakdown. There are so many more bad things happening in this world, so many more relevant things to say than the academic struggles of a privileged girl in a very privileged country.
The Paris Attacks brought me perspective: I shouldn’t be whining. Life should not be about over-thinking. I know it sounds ignorant and eurocentric to consider these events in Paris a wake-up call, but it was so close to home for me: Paris is only a couple of hours away, I had only been there three months ago, in the exact neighborhood where so many terrible things happened that night. If this is not a wake-up call to be more positive about life, I don’t know what is.
Considering I returned from my last international trip back in September, November made me a little anxious. Even though I spent time in three different German states, I couldn’t resist the urge to compare flight prices every other day. When I have a trip lined up in the future, I don’t spend as much time researching (daydream) destinations, but as I might have to wait until the new year to leave the country again, I can’t control myself: I research trips without even noticing. I have fictional trips to several Scandinavian capitals planned, a return trip to Italy and Amsterdam, and I’m constantly checking flight prices to places far beyond Europe.
The first days of November were absolutely gorgeous in Lower Saxony and my weekend getaway to Southern Germany was filled with sunshine, books, and coffee, but as the colorful foliage disappeared my longing for far-off lands is getting bigger every day. Winter in Central Europe might become worse in the next months, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be tempted to book a flight to somewhere before the New Year is here.
The famous phrase you always hear when people give you writing advice is “write about what you know”. The thing is that I don’t know enough to write about politics or terrorism to say anything about what has been occupying my thoughts in November. I can’t find the words for what is going on in the world.
I want the things I say online to be relevant and true, but the only thing I really know are my own struggles; the only truths I can say out loud are the truths that make sense in my head. The only meaningful message I can provide is telling other twenty-somethings that they are not alone with being confused about life sometimes. I can tell fellow art historians that, yes, people will joke about you becoming a cab driver once you’ve graduated and that yes, people will always ask annoying questions, but we’re in this together and we know that driving cabs is not an option.
As you might have noticed in the last months, I’ve been blogging less and less. When I started out three years ago, I posted at least twice a week, currently however, I’m down to twice a month. I’m probably losing readers due to my lack of consistency and focus, but I’ve been getting pretty serious about my PhD project lately, and I just can’t blogcrastinate like I used to: I need to channel all my writing skills, my concentration for reading, and on top of all my creativity — and put them into this next big step.
I feel bad for only having half a blog right now. I feel bad about the thousands of unedited photos and untold travel stories that I’ve been meaning to tell, but haven’t gotten around to. I feel bad for having started most of my monthly round-ups lately with an excuse for not blogging enough.
But right now, I can’t divide my love for international medieval art into halves for each, work and the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on this blog: I’ve come too far, I’ve learned too much, I’ve met too many great people to let it slip now. Nonetheless, I can’t make the blog my first priority now.
So here I am, writing about what I know: I know that I want to keep blogging, but being a part-time professional blogger is unrealistic. I know that I really want to put more time and effort into this blogging project, but sometimes life doesn’t work like that. It might not be relevant, but it’s certainly true that I sometimes prefer my life to be about the people in it — and blogging isn’t my top priority anymore.
A month with a proper flat white is a good month? I certainly think so. The getaway to Stuttgart in my beloved Southern Germany definitely help my November coffee statistics and I so thrilled to see the idea of proper coffee spreading in a country where most people still think a cappuccino has to have chocolate powder on top.
I try to channel all my optimism to face winter, but skeleton trees, gray skies, and 4 pm sunsets get me every time: If there’s not even a hour of proper sunlight for several days in a row, even tea and sweet Christmas treats can’t help. Luckily, the beginning of November was downright gorgeous: Even if it lasted only for a few days, these last moments of fall was the prettiest thing I have seen lately.
I invested in Christmas lights and new candles the other day and hope this helps against the afternoon darkness at least a little. And if it doesn’t, I will just keep staring at photos from back when there were blue skies — and planning imaginary trips to tropical places.
I didn’t exactly take a lot of photos, but at least I officially launched my photography website in November: It’s not perfect yet, and my portfolio isn’t nearly where I want it to be, but at least it is finally official! Also, it’s obviously crazy to start yet another side project, but photographing people is something I really love and as I can’t share it on this blog, I just had to find another place for that. I would love to hear what you think!
I always assumed that people love images more than words on Instagram, but in November I explained my feelings for Swabia underneath a photo I took in Stuttgart and it turned out to be my most liked photo of the month — pretty late fall foliage and a Gothic church reflection might have helped too though.
Coming up in December
December is Christmas market season — so the next weeks will all be about mulled wine, sweet treats, and fried potato pancakes. I’m spending the holidays with my family in rural Central Germany this year and I’m hoping for a few good winter days with powdery snow and sunshine and ice-skating on the lake. Eve though I don’t have any travel plans yet, December probably won’t leave me a lot of time for travel daydreaming because of all the visitors, domestic travel, and after-work mulled wine drinking.
What has your November been like?
PS: I haven’t done a lot of interviews, but I really loved the questions of Mikaela’s literary love affair series and answered them a while ago — head over there if you want to know about my favorite books and a little embarrassing toilet TMI.