‘Otherness’ as a source of power
When I approached Janet at Casita Coaching, I was at a stage of confusion regarding my career and life for a while. I was looking for a person who could help me overcome some of my job seeking obstacles and perhaps advise me on what kind of job would suit me best. I also hoped I would be able to get to know myself better, finding out what I really wanted, what my strengths and weaknesses are, in order to make critical decisions in my life that would be best for me.
But let me tell you first a bit about my background. I am original from China where, after graduating from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, I had several jobs in marketing and event management. About six years ago I became increasingly restless and wanted to expand my horizons. I was delighted to get admission from Wageningen University to study Leisure, Tourism and Environment. During this period I met my Dutch partner and decided to stay in the Netherlands and move to Utrecht.
After graduation I started working as a Customer Service Agent in an online travel agency. After a while, however, the job did not really satisfy me. The work was beneath my level of qualifications and I wanted a change. But when I applied for other jobs in the travel branch I was rejected several times because – I think – they preferred a Dutch person. I was disappointed and started to doubt my abilities. I was confused about my position in the current job market – was there a problem of cultural identity or integration? That is when I started to look for a coach. Janet helped me to focus not on the symptoms, but on the ailment itself. She respectfully showed me that I was ‘imprisoned’ in an endless dance of frustration. Instead of changing the dance steps, perhaps I should put on other music? In retrospect, the job rejections were a blessing in the sky, because it forced me to leave the beaten track, to develop my own values and to explore what I really wanted.
During the coaching sessions, and especially through writing my biography, I discovered that my choice for studying tourism had not really been my own. Given the Chinese education system, with an emphasis on obeying the rules instead of challenging them, how would I know what my real interest was? I was raised with the idea that it was crucial to have a profession that gave status and a decent salary, so that my parents could be proud of me. I feel great responsibility to take care of them after them contributing their whole lives taking care of me. This is especially important because I am an only child (son). However, deep down in my heart, I wished for a ‘more meaningful’ life.
When I first saw Janet’s profile online, I was already impressed by her experience in helping immigrants to adapt in the Netherlands. I went to her at first in the hope of finding someone to make a decision on what I should do in the next stage of my life. However, rather than Janet deciding for me, she guided me step by step to investigate my fear, my strength, and my inner desire and passion. In this way, she helped me to become confident and responsible enough to make the decision about my life myself. In fact, rather than judging me, she invited me to look into my ‘otherness’ and use it as a source of power. I then found the courage to pursue my dream in academia: from this September I am enrolled in the master program Sociology: Gender, Sexuality and Society. I couldn’t be happier because I’m doing what I love. Janet is a coach who is really willing to help, and more importantly, knows how to do it in a reliable and respectful way. Everyone should have a coach like Janet to guide you into the direction for making a better life for yourself if you have problems doing that on your own.
Hailin Zhang (34)