Last month I traveled to the US to (finally) start the next phase of my Master’s thesis: data collection by conducting 1-hour long interviews with all sorts of people. What does this mean? In short, it means asking questions, and lots of them while also listening to elaborate answers. Sometimes you hear things you never thought you’d hear, other times you hear things you heard a thousand times before. Either way, this process can be challenging, exhausting and most importantly the most exciting thing – ever, that is if you like this sort of thing.
So, I traveled to the east coast of the US ready to start my research. Starting this process is kind of like starting to cook your favorite dish. First you prepare everything, make sure you bought all ingredients, mince what ever needs to be minced, julienne anything that you could julienne – while doing so, also google the difference between mincing and julienning. Then you make sure you are sampling a big glass of the wine you intend to cook with – after all you’re not supposed to cook with wine you don’t enjoy drinking, you might also call this your trial-sample. And then you might follow all the steps of your recipe. Thankfully, I don’t research the same way I cook. I fail on all levels humanly possible to follow cooking instructions while sampling more than one glass of wine, usually the results are disastrous. But when it comes to research, I’d like to think, I somewhat have a good idea of what I am expected to do and what the end result should look like.
Anyways, so I organized lots and lots of interviews with great minds in my field. Many of which where so kind to agree to meet with me personally somewhere between North Carolina and DC. I’ve driven some +1.000 km during my time in the US and I have to say, I don’t know how truck drivers do this. My back was aching terribly, my mind absolutely numb and most importantly, I was physically and mentally exhausted from sitting and driving. But having spent – altogether – something close to 50 hours in a car, I got a lot of time to think. Think about everything one could possibly think about. My future, my plans, my hopes, my fears and mostly important my life.
Much like driving for hours, life can sometimes exhaust you. There seems to be no change in scenery, no change in temperature, no change in attitude of people, all the while you keep going the same speed, the same direction, every now and then passing someone on the left and sometimes on the right. Sometimes you hit a traffic jam and sometimes you are the only soul on the road for miles and miles. It’s not until you get out of the vehicle, that you realize that you’re actually alive and that Life can be beautiful.
We all to quickly and greedily agree to the everyday quicksand that are a mixture of responsibilities and chores and tremendous workloads. All to eagerly we say yes to any- and everything, and although a positive attitude and the ability to adjust to new challenges is very much desired, you taking care of yourself is, after all, the most important gift you can give to yourself. So get off the highway, get off the road you’ve been on for too long and see where a detour might lead you. – This being said, either have a really good sense of direction or make sure your GPS works and you can find your way wherever you ultimately want to go. After all, you don’t want to get lost and add 3 additional mind numbing hours to your trip after having driven 7+ hours already… Not that I have done that, well once, really, but only because the scenery was so beautiful, I just couldn’t resist.