What if the job market helped you to discover yourself? | Jannike Stöhr | TEDxVienna
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What if the job market helped you to discover yourself? | Jannike Stöhr | TEDxVienna

Translator: Martina Drábová
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’ve found the path to happiness. Long time before I was born, a fortune teller already knew it and wrote
a very famous story about my life. Even though he predicted
a few things wrong. He called the story
“The Princess and the Pea”. You might have heard about it. It is a story about a mother
of a young prince who wanted to find out
if a girl was a real princess, and therefore, might be
a candidate to marry her son. Therefore, she prepared a bed
and piled up one mattress over the other. Underneath the bed, she put a small pea. The princess slept
on top of all these mattresses. And on the next morning,
she said she had the worst night ever. She couldn’t sleep because something
poked her the whole time. The mother was relieved, because only a real princess
could have felt that small pea. So, that is how the story
had been told the last centuries. Let me tell you
how the story is supposed to be. I guess, we are all clear
about who I am in this story, right? Yes, I am the princess. I left my crown at home today,
otherwise, it would have been too obvious. As a princess of the 21st century,
my life was perfect. I successfully worked for a big company,
I earned a lot, lived in a nice flat, my closet was full of beautiful clothes
and my car brand new. I took fitness classes and spent
my vacation on other continents. You see, a very convenient life
on many comfortable mattresses. But there was something which poked me
and kept me from feeling happy. Do you know such a feeling
that you are unhappy and don’t know why? I tried a lot to find
that little something. One mattress after the other,
I checked on its effect on me. As a young adult, I thought having
a good career would make me happy. So I gave my best at work
and took a few steps on the career ladder. After having a few positions, I gave up
hope to find fulfillment in my job. I was 25 then. I started to look
for happiness in my leisure time. I tried different sports, voluntary work,
signed up for language courses. Now, I can introduce myself in Indian:
Mera naam Jannike hai. (Applause) Thank you. I read many guidebooks. One of them said, “If you want
to be happy, eat healthy.” So, I ate vegan and drank many smoothies. (Laughter) Another guidebook said, “If you want to be happy,
be grateful for the little things.” So, I kept a gratitude journal. I went to a career counseling, I took a media free time,
I took a consumption free time, I went on a pilgrimage. But still… When my father got cancer,
the type of guidebooks I read changed. Now, I read books about death and about what people regret
at the and of their life. The actor Tom Hiddleston once said,
“We all have two lives. And the second one starts
when we realize that we only have one.” Thank you. (Applause) So, I needed to do something, immediately. But what? Should I change my profession? Become a journalist? A photographer? Or better, a carpenter?
Should I study again? Or should I work at all? But how should I pay my gym then? (Laughter) What I knew was the answer
to happiness I was longing for waited for me somewhere out there. And I knew that I was
absolutely willing to find it. So I sold my possessions,
left my apartment, quit my gym contract, saved money, took
a three-year-long leave with my employer, without knowing what to do. Of course, I kept on reading guidebooks. One day, I read about a girl
who tried out different jobs. That was it! I knew! I also would test
jobs before I chose one for my future. The plan was quickly made up:
I wanted to test 30 jobs in one year; a number where the likelihood
to find my dream job seemed high to me. I built up a blog, wrote a list of jobs
I wanted to get to know and I asked friends for recommendations. I got a few internships offered. Imagine if you had the choice to sample
a few jobs, which one would you choose? Let me ask you: who of you would like
to experience a job of a police officer? Hands up, please. OK. Is someone here
who would like to be an architect? Oh, yes. A wine grower? (Laughter) I did that. Another question was still unsolved. Where should I sleep?
I had no flat anymore. I decided to test the jobs
in the whole country and to use Couchsurfing
to find 30 places to stay. But the most important thing for me
was all the people I would accompany had to be passionate in their profession, because I wouldn’t find mine,
if I accompany people like myself. At this point, I didn’t know
that the thing I was looking for would be much more important to me
than just a passionate job. One week before my project started,
my father died. I still had many fears and doubts
in this time; I asked myself, what if I feel homeless and alone? What if I run out of money? What if there is no such thing
as a dream job? What if…? The telephone rang. It was Susana,
my first host at Couchsurfing. She wanted to know
the time of my arrival. And just like that, it was time
for job number one. I started my year as
an educator for 1 to 3 year-olds. I thought playing with children
should be an easy thing to start with. (Laughter) Indeed, I had a great week,
even though a child peed on me. (Laughter) And I needed to revise the picture
I had of an educator. It is hard work. After that, I experienced professions
such as teacher, farmer, seller, and tourist guide. However, in the second third of my project I felt that my need
for security and stability became bigger. I thought about settling
and the job as a career counselor. But again, I felt that I curtailed myself
from many opportunities, giving in to the wish
for security and stability. I let go and decided to ask
the readers of my blog for advice and let them decide
which job I would choose next. Surprisingly, the majority
of the votes went for a profession I never thought I could do. Pathologist. (Laughter) My first thought,
“Oh, my god! No, I can’t do it.” Is someone here
who would like to be a pathologist? Oh, a few. Why is that?
Because it’s well paid? Even though I’m not really
into blood and corpses, I decided to pursue the job
the readers selected for me. And in retrospect, it was
one of the best experiences I had. To see all the organs and to see
how amazingly human body works, lead me to a healthy lifestyle,
to appreciate what I’ve got. By making this experience,
I was able to free my mind again and to see chances as chances again. And this time, I learned to let go,
to trust in me, and to trust in life. For example, one Sunday night,
I arrived at the place of a couchsurfer, and he didn’t show up. I couldn’t reach him
and after waiting for over an hour, I knocked on his neighbor’s door and asked for Internet
to find another place to stay. “You can stay here if you want,”
the neighbour said. I had plenty of situations like this,
and I had before, but I had unlearned to see them. In my last job, it was the 30th job,
I accompanied a midwife. On the last day of my last job, we already celebrated the completion
of my project with a barbecue. A pregnant woman called. And at two minutes to 11 pm, we welcomed
her little son on planet Earth, a moment which I will never forget. Even though the project
was very exhausting, it was the most enriching time of my life. Not one of my fears and doubts
I had before I started the journey became reality. Some of them even took care of themselves. My gym, for example,
I worried I couldn’t pay for, burnt down a few months later. (Laughter) At a certain point in my project,
I stopped asking myself “What if?” because I noticed that I know
too little about the world to make good decisions only by thinking. Since then I just do it if it feels right. And by trusting in life, I got so many good things in return
I never could have imagined. I learned a lot
about different kinds of jobs, but much more, I learned about myself. Now, I know what I like, what I’m good at,
what is important to me. And by taking away
one mattress after the other, I finally found what poked me
all over the last years and what didn’t let me be happy
even if I had it all. Under the last mattress
I expected a small pea, but there was something
much bigger: my intuition. That intuition
I always had looked down on. And the same intuition which would never
let me be happy if I further ignore it no matter how successful I would have been
or how much money I earned. By feeling myself again,
and by following my intuition, I finally found the happiness
I had looked for so many years. Because my intuition knew before me
that I’m worthy just as I am. The life lesson I learned
and I want to share with you today is embrace your feelings. It is a paradox to look for passion
and happiness on the one hand, and to dismiss feelings
as weakness on the other hand. You cannot find happiness without allowing yourself
to have feelings; the popular ones and the unpopular ones. Identify and embrace them. Before I leave you today,
I need to make a confession. I lied to you. I’m not the princess. I’m just a normal girl. And to find your inner voice
is not a luxury thing. It is the [base] for everything, because the way I treat myself,
I treat others. And when you go the bed tonight, you might want to have a look
under your mattress. Believe me, it is worth it. Thank you. (Applause)

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