Four years ago I graduated from TU Delft and ventured into my new life in Amsterdam. And, oh boy, ‘Sin City’ is a fun park. The Dutch capital bounced me around in its quixotic number of bars and activities. I tried singing classes, meet-ups, painting, stand-up courses, improvisation, meditation in the Vondelpark, basketball, wine tasting and, accidentally, a try-out for a ballet class. Name it, I did it.
Amsterdam mirrored my expectations of the place-to-be for a 25 year old with a fresh degree in his pocket. The more time that passed, the more I gallivanted over canals and streets, fuelled by my zeal to explore and meet. I wandered day and night, and I stopped to recompose myself for the next day in the office. Yes, I was a hangoutaholic.
Sport, parties, or dates nudged every empty space in my agenda. And, if I wanted to escape the insatiable city, Facebook, video games or my evening whiskey kept me company. For every discomfort, the world around teemed with soma, as Huxley called the anti-stress opiate in his dystopian novel Brave New World, to jazz up my days and lessen my problems.
‘I decided to silence my notifications and take some space for myself’
What I thought was hyperactivity and sheer curiosity, turned out to be the fear of missing out — or, fear of boredom, as I like to call it.
Seeing new places and meeting people was, and is, a blessing. But I was missing something. I thought that collecting more and more would have enriched my life. In truth, I used these experiences to cover what I disliked about myself.
Our society demonises vulnerabilities, but I understood that I came to savour my experiences if I grow along with them, and I could welcome my flaws as a part of me.
So, I decided to silence my notifications and take some space for myself. I started listening.
All along, my surrounding and I wanted to be in touch. I came to understand that those unpleasant feelings were like geodes — harsh and grey on the outside, multi-coloured and filled with responses on the inside.
Patience and boredom turned into my keywords. Within them, I found the strength to understand that I wanted a different job, different people, and to reconnect with my past. I knew it would have been difficult to question my path and re-programme my habits, but time and determination were on my side.
I will conclude my studies in the next few months. Restarting a new Master in Science Communications at TU Delft last year was a jump in the dark, but from these clouds of doubts I emerged with answers.
Between the stimulus and the response, there is a pause. In that pause, I found that I am happy with the life I am living, my loved ones and of my love for writing.
- Davide Zanon, born in 1990, is an MSc alumnus in Building Technology at TU Delft Faculty of Architecture. He has lived in Amsterdam since 2015. Thanks to his thesis, he switched careers and worked as a front-end developer for three years. In September 2018, he decided to follow his passion for writing, reading non-fiction and meeting people, and subscribed for a one year MSc in Science Communication at TU Delft. After his graduation, he intends to become a professional writer and journalist.