In my mid-teens, I was addicted to video games. As a rough guess I’d say that I played for six hours a day, on average.
One day, I decided that I did not want my life to consist mainly of video games. I was good at them—at one point I was one of the top Call of Duty players in Europe—but I wanted something else from life.
Then I heard about the United World Colleges (UWC), a global network of schools with this mission:
UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
That sounded amazing! I applied to study at a UWC and I ended up spending my last two years at the Li Po Chun UWC in Hong Kong. It was a great time, and I wanted more of this living abroad thing.
So I moved to America. I arrived at Swarthmore College having never set foot in the U.S. before. I thought: “I had better like this if I’m going to be here for four years!” Fortunately, I loved it. I studied economics, political science, and public policy.
After I graduated, I took an analyst job at Cornerstone Research, one of the world’s top litigation consulting firms. I gradually became more senior, until I was managing teams of analysts working on litigation projects you’d read about in the national news. This is where I really learned to manage people, to organize projects, and to work productively in high-pressure environments.
And then things went wrong
It was all going well, until I burned out.
It was so bad that in early 2016—when I had moved back to The Netherlands—I couldn’t clean the house for half an hour without panicking from stress. Not good. For one and a half years, I tried to “fix” myself. But because I didn’t know what was going on, that didn’t work.
Fortunately, someone eventually presented me with a list of burnout symptoms. She went down the list, asking me whether I suffered from each particular symptom—and I answered “yes” for 15 out of 17 symptoms, or something like that. So I spent the next six months working with a psychologist to recover from burnout. I don’t think I’ve ever learned that much, that quickly.
My burnout happened years ago. Today, I feel better than ever. Do I still get stressed sometimes? Sure. Who doesn’t? But I learned how to channel my energy into doing things I care about.
For a longer introduction to me and to get a sense of what my days look like, listen to my episode on the Tools They Use podcast.
Some of my other interests include scuba diving and public speaking. I’m vegan, I’m a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, and I enjoy watching Formula 1.