Bullying started when I was 8 years old. Maybe 7 or maybe 9, I can’t clearly remember. I was bullied because I was different. Back in those days, I thought it was because I was looking ugly and smelled funny. I was beaten around and provoked, and my classmates were pretty smart in pointing me out as the culprit. I was the evil one and they were the good ones. I was the one who had to go to the psychiatrist, not them. I was the one with the problem, not them. And I didn’t wanted to be the one who had a problem. I wanted to be on the good side.
At home, the situation was the same: I was always the one who was at fault, not my mother and not my father. I always did things wrong, even if I didn’t.
Bullying continued up to my junior high exam, where I finally got rid of most people knowing me. And at the very same time, it was revealed to me that my father wasn’t my real father but instead my step-father, and that I’ve been adopted by him. My step-father moved out and suddenly a completely new life began: I got an apprenticeship at SAP, a good self-esteem and excellent marks in job school. After my apprenticeship, I moved to Frankfurt to start at a new company as a systems administrator, because I wanted to live on my own and concentrate on my career as a DJ and musician. Shortly after that, things started to collapse again: I was assigned a shitty software engineering project, even tough as I was employed as a systems administrator, and my health went down quite much. After one and a half years, I was laid off because the company did crash. I was able to find another job quickly, this time as a software developer. This wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t accept the fact that I was out of work, so I did a job I didn’t like.
In that software developer position, I worked my arse off. I was often working 10 to 14 hours a day, mainly because I was in fear that I could laid off again. I never had the balls to say: My 8 hour contract is over, I don’t care if the contract says “overtime has to be done without compensation”, I’m going home now, if you don’t like that, find another person. After 2,5 years, I was suffering from a burn out syndrome and changed my job again.
I had a pretty severe sleep disorder and didn’t last for long in my new job, which was a developer job again. But I didn’t realize it, I thought I was pretty good at software development (and I still am), but this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I did it because I had the fear of being homeless and without money. I started being self-employed. And there it was again, the fear of failing and thus being without money.
A long period of sleep disorder, doctor appointments and even invalidity pension followed, before I finally started working 3 months ago. I have to admit that this isn’t a 100% match to my dream position, but it’s a pretty okay company which matches about 70% of where I want to work (100% would be administrating huge server systems and data centers, especially the networking side). And now, being 33 years old, I finally realized by what my life was driven so far: Fear.
I feared that other people bully me, do not respect me, don’t ask me for help, don’t believe in my judgement, think my work is not good, that I might fail and that I end up without having enough money to life.
And this fear killed my abilities. Not my technical or social skills, but my personal skills. I couldn’t stand up and say: No. I won’t do that. I won’t do it that way. Just doing things without a safety net.
And that’s exactly what I need to do. I need to take risks. I need to say no. I need to behave like I believe it’s right, and not what others expect.
And you should do that, too