"I have become that inventor I once dreamed of"
This story is for the rainy days when one feels down, defeated and just a little bit more stupid than others. This is a story to remind myself of how I defeated my dragons and became who I am today.
This story begins like so many others, with dreams. When I was growing up, I dreamed of doing great things like being a world traveler or an inventor that saves lives.
Later on, I secretly dreamed of becoming a teacher. I was dreaming of the freedom that would set me free from the chains that were holding me back.
You see I was locked up in a tower. I was behind bars of an invisible prison and my chains were a sickness that would rule two decades of my life. The sickness wasn’t mine but most of my family had it, and if one counts back in generations, this had been the story of my line for a long time.
Alcohol and drug addiction are powerful chains. You can’t see them, but they cause an immense amount of pain and suffering, not only to those with the addiction, but to those around them, too.
“You will never become anything!”, my sick mother would shout at me when she wanted to take her pain on me. “You are just a little bit more stupid than the average”, she said, comparing me to my brother, who undoubtedly was very intelligent. What a shame that his life became all about drugs and real prison cells.
All of my dreams died, one by one and by the age of 20 I had an alcohol problem and was suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks.
I had absolutely no vision for my life, apart from being absolutely certain I wouldn’t live to see 30. So, if I wasn’t going to live long, why bother at all?
Except that at 26, I got pregnant, and I couldn’t come up with any reasons why not to keep the baby. But I was really struggling with the baby, and seeked for help.
A family took us in and started caring for us. I found faith as the mother of the family shared a vision God gave her 10 years prior to our stay there. In the vision a mother and a baby would live in the upstairs of their house, matching exactly the conditions of the time of our stay.
Slowly I started recovering and the scope of my childhood traumas begun to reveal to me. There were times I would lay on the floor in a fetus position and scream my pain out. I learned to forgive my parents and understand it wasn’t their choice to get sick. I got out of my own addictions with time and life begun to look like a place for opportunities.
But one chain still had a very tight grip on me: I couldn’t believe in myself.
Others saw a charismatic and talented young lady but all I saw was a failure, lacking any kind of skills or education. What could I ever become in this world? After all, I was ‘just a little bit more stupid than the average and I could never become anything’, as my mother quite nicely put it.
It was a joke, but I applied to university, to administrative science.
I met a stranger on a bus on that summer as I was waiting for the results of the entrance exams. She didn’t know me or anything about me but just as she was getting out of the bus, she said to me: "You are going to get in to the university".
To my surprise, indeed I got in.
The first year in university for me was like I had landed on an alien planet. I really had to wonder that do these people speak Finnish here or what is this weird scientific way of expressing things that I just cannot understand. On year three I finally figured out that university is a place where people conduct research, and the teaching is based on research, too. Things started to look a little bit clearer.
I struggled a lot in my studies, but I had made myself a promise that no matter how hard this will be, I will not quit.
And I didn’t.
I proved to myself that I’m not just a little bit more stupid than the average. In fact, my average on my degree was well over four and my colleagues wanted me to pursue a PhD, because they thought I was a promising young researcher.
So here I am, pursuing a PhD for two reasons:
A long time ago someone made a bet for 1000 marks that I would never graduate from high school. That has become my power thought that I will get the highest education this country can offer me to prove this person wrong.
Secondly, in some miraculous way, I have learned to speak science and fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a teacher. I get to travel around the world with my research and I enjoy what I’m doing.
I have become that inventor I once dreamed of. I have a beautiful family with three kids, nice house, and a good job.
It just took me a little bit longer to get here, but just now, life is so very good.
A blog post from the DSII course Exploring Industry Experience
by a Doctoral Student