I’ll  say it straight out: I’ve just left my job at the NGO. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I was struggling with it for some days. I kept going back and forth between staying or quitting. My instincts were telling me to go, but my head kept thinking ‘how can I give up a job where I learn so much, have a lot of responsibility and autonomy, and do something good?’ Eventually, my heart won… Once I had made the decision and told my (now ex-)boss, I felt relieved. Everything seemed better immediately.

How did this happen and why did I not see it coming?

In retrospective, I should have known from the start that something was not quite right. The people working for the NGO are great, but there are some underlying negative tensions that I didn’t know about before. My gut might have told me once or twice; I always ignored it though. To keep it simple and give you just a brief explanation: I think the team composition wasn’t ideal for me and, eventually, I would have run into problems with one or two team members. Some of our beliefs clash fundamentally. While I might still respect them as friends, I simply cannot accept them as leaders. In addition, I have realised that Tutdao is an essential reason for why I came back. In fact, I am simply not ready to spend most of my days in front of my laptop. I’ve had that sort of life for the last 5 years and I will have it again at some point. But not now.

Things in life never really work out the way you thought they would.

As I’m trying to figure out where to go from here, what I actually want to do and so on, I keep reminding myself of the old saying ‘when one door closes, another one opens’. Perhaps some unexpected opportunity will come along. I am sad about having left the NGO but I just had to do it to protect myself. Furthermore, my heart wasn’t in it anymore, and so it wouldn’t have been fair to the others if I had stayed on. I am volunteering at the elephant camp for now, taking care of Tutdao. I don’t know for how long. In fact, I feel like I don’t know anything anymore.

When I finished my university degree, I was excited to be ‘free’. I couldn’t wait to break out of the system. This freedom scares me now. How do I find out what I want to do with the rest of my life? How do I make sense of everything? I am certain that most twenty-somethings feel this way at some point and that we’re all gonna be fine in the end (remember that article about Generation Y – the one with the unicorns?). Still, it sucks to get there.

I’ll reflect on my NGO experience and take-aways over the next couple of days. I have definitely learned a few lessons, which I’ll share with you then. I hope these reflections will help me figure out where to go from here and what to do next. For now, I’ll make sure to give Tutdao a big, juicy watermelon on Valentine’s Day.