Against All Odds

After two years in Vancouver, Canada, I’m back in Germany. It still feels weird and surreal. I can’t quite believe it. So much has happened. For me it feels more like five years than two.

But that‘s normal, right?

These last weeks made me think a lot about what has happened in my life so far. When something comes to an end, there’s always a time of reflection. For me at least.

I’m thinking about my journey so far and how I the fuck I ended up in Canada with 27 years old after I quit a good job that I loved to become a writer … I mean, I kinda stumbled like Han Solo into an adventure that I couldn’t resist but didn’t expect at all.

And while I‘m reflecting about my “Han Solo”-life so far, I came to the following conclusion that I wanted to share:

I didn’t realise until now that all my life I always decided to go the way that I wasn’t supposed to go. According to my up-bringing, my environment, or the people I was surrounded with at that time. But I constantly proved to myself and others that it’s possible to achieve anything you want, even against all odds.

Now I want to share my story – my journey – with you. Maybe it inspires you to do the same. To keep pursuing your passion and try the impossible.

Against All Odds In School

When people meet me now, they think that I’ve always been so confident and straightforward. That I always have known what I wanted to be.

But that’s of course not true. It’s been a long road to become confident in myself and my craft.

It almost took me 25 years and I’m still learning!

In school I was the silent good pupil. I always tried my best but I would never show what I’m really capable of doing. Actually when I started school my grades were so bad that my teacher wanted me to leave “normal school” and go to a special school with pupils who have learning disabilities.

The reasons: I wasn’t able to count over ten and I was so bad at grammar and spelling that my essays would look like a scene of a mass murdering gone crazy.

And where the fuck was my Batman, huh? To show me the importance of good grammar?

I didn’t have a Batman, but I had my mum. She didn’t accept my teacher’s suggestion and so we learned.

I didn’t give up.

Every single day she sat down with me and we learned for school. And eventually over four years of primary school I became one of the best pupils in class. Even in maths.

My grades were so good that I could visit the “gymnasium” which is a nine/eight year school education in Germany that would allow you to study right after you’ll graduate. I don’t want to explain the whole German school system but believe me it’s not just a school gym, it’s just the name of the best school education you could possibly choose for your ten year old kid.

In my family I was the first one who achieved this. My parents, grandparents and all the other people, I knew at this point, didn’t go to this school.

So, of course, I was very proud that I made it even though my first primary school teacher and my grandma said I’d probably never make it so far. My grandma told me that I was too shy for this school and I would drown in the school expectations.

Well, with one thing she was right. I almost drowned because of all the new classes, the amount of informations and the new intensity of the school schedule.

After nine years I graduated with a diploma in advanced Latin and grades that would let me study whatever I wanted. I could have become a doctor or lawyer.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I chose something different that made my family question me and my possible future a lot. A LOT! As people do when you decide to pursue a creative career.

Against All Small Town Odds

I grew up in a small town in Bavaria, Germany. It’s beautiful with its wide green fields, mooing cows, and people who all know each other. I was the third generation who grew up in this town. My grandparents (except my mum’s dad) and my parents grew up there.

And because we’ve been there for generations EVERYONE knew and still knows my family and me.

That has its advantages. For example, I could play pool in a pub with twelve because my dad knew the owner. Or I also knew that if I’d be in trouble I just need to call out that my dad’s name and help would come instantly.

Hello, it’s me! The weird one ….

But I also didn’t like that everyone knows each other because that meant that soon everyone knew that I was different. That I preferred to stay at home to write, draw, and watch tv, while other would go out partying and hanging out at parks.

Or that I didn’t like meat and was too shy to ask a guy out. And the older I got the more people would worry about that. Because apparently it’s the biggest achievement of a woman to marry a guy and have a family.

When I went to the big city, Munich, to study “Film and Animation”, the worries and questions intensified:

You want to do something creative? But how will you earn money later? Artists never earn enough money! You should go study to become a doctor or lawyer with your grades. Don’t throw away your education.

You live in Munich now? Only snobs live in this city and it’s expensive. How can you pay rent with being an artist? I’m sure you’ll be back soon.

Do you have a boyfriend yet? No? How old are you now? Jesus, so old and still no boyfriend!? Maybe you’re gay? Are you gay? Oh no, of course, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But just don’t kiss in front of me.

You’re too ambitious. You have too many expectations. It’s because you read and watch all this romantic shit. Also, you shouldn’t read comics or play games that’s such a boy thing. If you continue like that, you’ll never find a man. Do you want that?

All I replied was a big eye roll and a loud “fuck this bullshit! I’m outta here!”.

Small town mentality, am I right?

I didn’t care. I moved to Munich anyway because I wanted to follow what I was passionate about.

Against All Odds In University

Here I was in Munich at the SAE Institute and about to study ‘Film and Animation” for two years.

Oh fuuuuuuuck!

I really didn’t know anything when I started. I didn’t know that Photoshop existed or how to hold a camera. The only thing I knew was that I loved movies and I could draw.

But sill, I started studying at SAE Institute in Munich when I was 19 years old, right after I graduated school.

No break. No gap year. Nothing. Just pushing forward.

I was one of four girls in a 20 students class because at that time not a lot of girls wanted to study the practical and technical journey of making a film. I also was one of the youngest in my class.

Everyone except me and two others already had experiences in the softwares and film making. They’ve done it in their free time or in a previous job. They all knew so much and seemed way more experienced than me. Then there was me who has never heard of Photoshop or Final Cut before. The girl from the small town who liked to draw and watch movies.

I was so terrified in the first class. I thought to myself:

Fuck, I don’t know anything. I’m again the worst in my class.

During the first intense year of studying I spent almost all time at school. I was there before my class and after. I learned everything I could and I absorbed all the knowledge from others.

After the first year, I got my diploma and was the best student in class with another girl. I was so proud of myself and even more when my head instructor asked me to be one of the tutors. As a tutor you’d help students with their projects, hold workshops and give them the equipment for their films.

So with 20 years old, I became the youngest tutor in the team of six others. All of them were way older than me and way more experienced. And most of them guys. What a surprise!

But again, this didn’t stop me. It made me work harder. Especially because I was the one who was challenged the most by the students. Students who were older than me or the same age and couldn’t quite fathom that someone so young would be qualified to support them.

I proved everyone wrong. Every single one.

After another year studying for my Bachelor and working as a tutor I was one of the most popular and beloved tutors in school. Some students would wait until I started working to come over and ask for help. Others would stay until I leave just to talk to me.

Against All Odds At Work

After three years of tutoring and teaching at my school, I decided that I needed to move on. I quit my job without having a new job yet. My family and colleagues thought I was crazy.

But I did it anyway.

Because deep down I knew that I needed to create space for something new. And one month after I quit I got a job interview and two months later I had a new job as a Motion Designer in a small company with 20 people.

With 24 years old, I had my first staffed job. And again, I was the youngest and only woman in my department. The other two guys that worked in my department have been with the company almost since the beginning.

When the guys and me first met, they were sceptical. Because I was younger and because they had an intern with the same name who screwed up their lives. So, there were some stigmas attached to me that I was aware of.

Against the stigma and for a better work life

I smiled at them and then I went to work. I worked hard and a lot of hours. Quickly I became the person that coworkers would go to if they had a weird or new idea for a project. They would ask me how to make it happen.

I helped improving workflows, I always gave 110% and tried to come up with new creative ways for projects. I pushed myself and the boundaries in the company.

Three years later with about 60 people working there, I was one of eight Motion Designers who everyone knew and appreciated. Coworkers would still come to me for advice and questions. I loved working there. The company felt like being with a family while I created cool explanatory videos for customers.

And weirdly now when I think back of that time, I can say that this was one of the first times in my life that I was the cool and popular one in a group. So much about the shy, awkward girl from school that no one really noticed.

But then I couldn’t ignore it any longer …

During my last year, I felt the urge to follow my true passion that I had been pushing away for a long time. I guess I didn’t want to accept that writing actually is the one thing I’m most passionate about.

While I was struggling with the urge to become a writer but still loving my job, the company decided to have more team leaders and I knew that I would be considered. I knew that I could have become a team leader in my department if I wanted because I already had a lot of responsibility and behaved like one.

But I also knew that this wasn’t what I truly desire.

And I even realised that without a sexy devil asking me. Although having Lucifer ask me what I truly desire would have been unbelievably intriguing. Not gonna lie …

So, I quit my very good paying job that I loved and went to Canada with my savings and no idea how to get a job or where to live.

I just did it. I just took another leap of faith.

Against All Odds In Vancouver

In August 2018 with 27 years I came to Vancouver, Canada. And I had no idea where to live or what to work. I only knew that I needed a change of scenery and that I wanted to focus on my writing.

I got a job as a barista at Starbucks (classic!) and I moved in with two super nice roommates in Vancouver Downtown. One of them became a very close friend of mine. Even though a lot of people told me it’s so hard to find a good and decent place to stay. There were a lot of horror stories about houses with about 16 people in there who lived closely together.

Lucky me that I found such a good place right at the beginning. I stayed there until the end and enjoyed living in downtown.

After six months I knew that I only had another six months left on my “Work & holiday”-visa but I also knew that I wanted to stay a little longer. I just finished my first book and it was ready to publish. Deep down I knew that writing is the thing I should do.

That’s my purpose.

And when I was bored at my job, I googled around and found the Vancouver Film School. Funny enough I already heard from them. A couple of years ago, I wanted to go there to study animation because at that time I thought this is the right thing for me.

But now, after a few years animating, I knew that I like doing it but it’s not what sets my soul on fire.

A week later I found myself in the office of the Vancouver Film School looking at the posters of movies I love and in that moment I knew that one day I wanted to have my name on a movie poster too.

One day …

I applied for the “Writing in Film, TV, and Games” and got accepted. I gathered somehow the money to study with the help of my dad and other relatives. And against all my self-doubts, all the fears, all the expectations because of where I’m from and what I did before, I went to school.

I studied, worked and learned. And I did it. A few weeks ago I graduated against all odds.

Follow your passion …

I don’t know where my life will lead me next but I do know that I have proven so far that I don’t care if all the odds are against me. Or that it seems impossible.

I’ll follow my passion. No matter where it’ll lead me. Because I know it’ll be worth it and one day I’m gonna be successful.

So, don’t give up on your passion. Don’t give up on yourself. Especially in those times of uncertainty and change.

You got this.


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One thought on “Against All Odds

  1. Pingback: A Musical Letter: Keep following your passion, giiirl! - Jule Jessenberger

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