Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.
I come from a family of six, being the third of four children. My parents were missionary workers in New Guinea and Brazil in the 1950's and early sixties, and educators in Holland after their final return in 1965. I was born in 1967 in Oudewater, moved to Hengelo end of 1969, and finally to Oldenzaal in 1973. This is where I grew up, went to secondary school (VWO), and played football (Quick'20, FC Twente youth). It seemed like normal family life then, at least for us.
Born into a family of teachers, education was important in our household. Luckily for me, I had a very good brain. And adjusted easily, as young children usually do, to switching schools. I went to three different primary schools between 1973 and 1977. I finished eventually with high grades (CITO 96%) and went to the VWO (university preparatory education). From which I graduated in 1985, to enrol in Business School (1985-1992) at the University of Groningen.
Although my parents stressed the importance of good grades and a finished education, they did not actually encourage us to think beyond our hobbies while we were in our teens. I remained clueless, and as a result my choice for Business School was a serendipitous one. Nevertheless I got in and graduated and I found work rather easily without having a career master plan or a CV to match. My journey had started.
On the outside things seems to go well, or at least okay, despite the moving and hardship. My dad suffered from a heavy heart attack when I was 10 and was no longer able to work. Eight years later he was diagnosed with cancer, which lead to his death in 1989 (age 59). Not only that, I also had a hard time growing up, especially during my adolescent years. It all weighed heavily on me, more than I was aware of, or cared to admit to myself and others.
peter has left the building
I just needed to escape from it all, start trying living my own life, and going to University seemed the best and quickest way out for me. So I left the home of my parents at 18 to study in Business Management Groningen, leaving my mom & dad (who just had been diagnosed with throat cancer) and my youngest brother behind. My older brother and sister already left home before me. It was a big dilemma: how to live your own life, not be under the authority anymore of your parents, and yet family crisis expecting me to come home.
I coped with it the best I could, but I felt really stuck between a rock and a hard place. And my grades suffered chronically as a result. Only after my dad passed away I was able to breath again and catch up with my studies and my life, sort of. In the end I did graduate in 1992, three years after my dad's passing. It had set me on the path of self-awareness.
Being confronted with such a big loss at a relatively young age changes your perspective on life and on what's important. I still had no idea who I was, with everything that had been going on in my life since I was 10, and even before as a toddler, I was never really present. Did not want to be here. It had severely undermined my sense of safety and sense of self. It was my intelligence, ability to improvise and sportsmanship that helped me survive all those years, now I could add to the mix my need for authenticity and natural authority plus my willingness to deeper explore my inner worlds. My career path became a reflection of that exploration, with my jobs becoming my best, persistent and unshakeable teachers.
After ups and downs in the 15 years since graduating, I turned 40 and took a big leap of faith and started my own company in 2007. That seemed a turning point somehow, as I embarked on an adventurous inner and outer journey, inspired and fueled at the time by my discovery and love for pavement art on the one hand; and my hunger for creativity, teamplay and original ideas on the other hand. Thirteen years later, at the age of 53 as I was writing this (January 2020), I found myself at a cross roads again. A few months before my mom passed away at age 86, thirty years after my dad. With her passing, a new chapter began for me. Or maybe even a whole new book.
Only weeks after I wrote the above, covid brought everything to a complete standstill. After 54 years I had come to the end of a very long and winding road, one that had been full of personal challenges and life lessons. I find myself now in the process of finding my bearings again, resetting and calibrating my compass, preparing myself for a last leap of faith. What do I do and where do I go next?
2021 hopefully marks the year of new beginnings, with a refreshed mind, a rested body, a new focus and many new adventures. Fingers crossed.