Monday, July 30, 2018

How Love, Faith and Determination Brought Me to Belgium

How Love, Faith and Determination Brought Me to Belgium

It was tough for me to go back home after a year living in India. After such a life changing experience I couldn't just go back to "normal."  I felt out of place. I felt as if I didn't fit anymore. I was feeling homesick for another country.

Luckily, although I was feeling a bit down, I was still having that high that I had experienced in India. I was feeling confident and optimistic. I had absolute trust and faith; and on top of that... I was now in love.

Backpacking in Latin America

Beginning of June 2006, after six months back home, my new found girlfriend that I had met in India flew all the way to Ecuador to visit me.

Well, we actually met in Lima, Peru. Flights to Lima were cheaper, and we had decided to backpack our way up to Ecuador. One of the most amazing trips I've ever done.

I can still see vividly in my mind the beautiful scenery of Peru. By far, the most beautiful and special place for me was the Colca Canyon, in Arequipa. I was way more impressed by it than even Machu Pichu.

Colca Canyon in Peru
Colca Canyon, Peru. Photo taken by my gf.

After one month backpacking in Peru we reached Ecuador and backpack for another month. We went everywhere. The coast, the mountains, the jungle. We missed the Galapagos Islands though.

Cotopaxi, Ecuador
The Cotopaxi, Ecuador

At the end of that second month she stayed with me in Guayaquil, and volunteered at a local NGO until she had to return to her home country; Belgium.

I decided to move to Belgium

We really wanted to make this relationship work. After going through some alternatives we agreed that the best for both of us would be for me to move to Belgium.

But how the heck was I supposed to do that?

I needed to find a job to be able to get a work permit and residency, so that I could move and make a living in Europe. But how can a guy from Ecuador do that?

I had no idea if this was even possible, and I didn't speak either of the local languages, Dutch nor French.

But I had no doubts. I was very confident that things were going to work out just all right.

Following some statistics that I had learned from a real state investment book, which I read while I was commuting in Mumbai, I figured I should try to send one hundred applications.

From those one hundred applications I could probably get ten interviews, and from those ten interviews I thought I should get one positive interview.

I don't believe in diversification

So even before traveling to Belgium I started searching for opportunities online and sending job applications. Then one day one of my family members said to me:

"Don't put all the eggs in one basket. You should try to diversify. In case you might not find something in Belgium you should look for a job also in other countries, like Canada. You could both move there."

It was a very well intentioned advice. He truly wanted the best for both of us, but I didn't agree with that advice at all.

One of the things that I had learned in that past year in India is that to succeed at anything you don't need to diversify but rather to focus all your efforts.

I rather focus all my energy and my attention on one goal, without looking back, than dissipating all my efforts in different places. If I would have started looking for jobs in other countries I would have probably missed the right opportunities in Belgium.

Even with more tenacity and determination I decided that I was going to focus all my efforts to find a job in Belgium, and only in Belgium. I would simply ignore any other opportunities that might have shown up if they were not in Belgium.

Once I arrived in Belgium, beginning of December 2006 on a three months visa, I continued sending application after application, cover letter after cover letter.

I could hardly recognize myself

After a few weeks I started to have some job interviews.

It was a bit strange. I was feeling so confident I could hardly recognize myself. I was still carrying that self confidence that I had discovered in India.

I entered those offices like a cowboy enters a bar in an old town. My body language was relaxed and calm. My tone of voice was clear. I said the right things at the right time. I had zero anxiety or nervousness.

After those interviews were over I would be like, "Who am I?" It was strange, but at the same time it felt really good.

I developed and reinforced my faith

Three months passed...

A week before my visa expired, my girlfriend and I visited her parents. We had visited them before several times. I felt comfortable at their home, so at some point I was laying down on the sofa, completely relaxed.

Knowing that my stay in Belgium and the future of our relationship depended on me finding a job, but we only had one week left, my girlfriend shouted, "How can you be so relaxed?!"

It was surprising for me as well, but the reason was very simple. I had absolute faith, I had nothing to worry about.

Of course, I had also prepared myself mentally for this.

I had discovered an unshakable faith in India, but I consciously reinforced it with regular visualizations.

I saw myself in my mind, signing a contract, having a work permit, living in Belgium with my girlfriend and feeling all good about it.

I also wrote in my journal the statement of what kind of job I wanted, how much I wanted to earn and why I was going to get it. That "Why" is very helpful when doing this kind of visualizations.

This is what faith is all about. It doesn't matter what's your belief system or religion, faith is simply having the absolute conviction that what you have asked for will inevitably manifest.

That conviction has to be strong enough that even if your current external circumstances, the "what is," is completely far away from that "what you wish it to be," you are still convinced that it will be.

These visualizations are simply a tool develop and reinforce that conviction.

My intentions became reality

Finally, after three months of sending applications and having job interviews, I received a call from one of my potential employers. It was DHL Brussels.

I'd already had a second interview with them. They were happy with the interviews so they accepted my application an offered me a job as a financial analyst.

I signed the contract just one day before my visa expired!

Even till the last minute, not even for a moment I doubted it. I was never stressed, worried or anxious. Actually, when I had that first interview with them I'd already felt, "This is it."

I had planned to send one hundred applications. I managed to send about forty-five until I got that final interview. In total I think I had five or six interviews. Not that many in three months, but that's irrelevant.

And guess what... I got the job that I had visualized. The working hours and the salary were pretty much what I had intended.

But I felt as if I had sold my soul

While I was on the train from Brussels back to my girlfriend's flat in Hasselt, after signing that contract, I realize I didn't feel that happy.

I was very grateful, and a part of me couldn't believe it had happened. But after singing this contract I also felt as if I had sold my soul.

You see, I already knew that this corporate life was not for me. That was very clear to me.

This is not what I wanted to do, but I was only doing it so that I could move to Belgium to start a relationship with my girlfriend. I was doing it to be with her and for no other reason.

And that was a very good reason to do so. It was a very conscious decision, although perhaps it was destiny what had guided me to do this. Maybe I'll talk more about it in my next post.

Planting the seed for what would come next

I was also very clear about what I did want. You might recall this from my previous blog post.

Just before leaving India, while I was at a beach contemplating about my experiences of the past year, I realized that I wanted to return in the near future. And I wanted to return to India for one purpose only: to practice and study yoga.

So during that same train ride, as I was staring out the window, I decided that I was going to stay in Belgium for only three years. After those three years I would quit everything and travel back to India.

I didn't make a plan, I didn't even give much thought to it. It was simply an intention. I pretty much forgot about it soon after and started my new life in Belgium.

to be continued... This story continues in Why I Quit My Job Three Times and Then Never Came Back

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