Und now? I had to ask myself the question at the beginning of 2019. For years I knew what to do. The next step, like all the steps before, had to be taken in order to get to where I was now: I had a career and was encouraged. I was also doing well materially. There were no more next steps, I had achieved everything – what now? Then came the void.
For many people, life has pivotal points. The job, the car, children, your own house. A degree, the big journey. With these goals, illusions come into being: If I achieve that, then …! Yeah what then? I have experienced that after reaching it, a fulfilled life does not follow.
Maybe I wasn’t stupid
After attending several business and business schools with my bad secondary school leaving certificate in my pocket without ever getting a degree, I didn’t know what would become of me. I became a cook. My father owned a restaurant in which I had already helped in the kitchen. I liked that, I thought. So for seven years of my life I first worked as a kitchen helper, then I started an apprenticeship. Until I got to a point where I became increasingly dissatisfied. I should come to such points more often in my life.
I started reading books. Fontane’s “Effi Briest”, for example. I liked it, and it began to rotate in my brain: Maybe I wasn’t as stupid as myself and parts of my surroundings always thought. Maybe I could do something after all – because I wasn’t a good cook. That was in the spring of 2006, I was 20 years old. From that point, I can say in retrospect, that I started to catch up that would not end until many years later. But maybe it never ends.
The hope for a profound change
Thomas Plotz is a professor for natural science didactics at the Church-Pedagogical University in Vienna. Today he is 43 years old. At 36 he started his doctorate. “I wanted to go again and achieve something,” he says. This decision drove him over the four years of writing his doctoral thesis: It was “the hope that if I defend my work and thus have the doctorate, there will be a profound change in my life”.
His studies were previously turbulent, he studied mathematics and physics to become a teacher, but dropped out because it did not meet his expectations – only to try again a few years later. “That’s why this doctoral thesis was such an important goal for me,” says Plotz. So he sat at university for four years, bent over books, living in a rhythm of reading, writing and teaching, always keeping an eye on the defense of his dissertation. “This phase of life then had several ends. One when I finished writing. One more thing when I incorporated the change requests. And finally, when I defended her and it was official. “