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.UWC.org
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 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.
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 did not 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.
That’s years ago now, and 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.
The next step
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Some other tidbits about Peter
Some of my other interests include bouldering, scuba diving, and public speaking. I’m vegan, I’m a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, and I enjoy watching Formula 1.