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  • Writer's pictureLeon de Leeuw

Update from Bulgaria

Time flies and that's a good thing. Depends how you look at it at least. I'm in Bulgaria for nearly nine years, except for the many trips abroad and the periods of working for the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. This was an interim assignment and after that contract ended, I found a permanent job in Bulgaria. Once more in clinical research. I enjoy my life and work. Often, people ask me how long I want to stay in Bulgaria. As long as I have a good time, I often reply. Because stability is an illusion. And in my three decades on this earth, I learned that the only constant in life is change. Change happens everywhere and in everyone's life. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

But holding on to a branch is senseless, eventually you'll be blown off or sucked into the wild river called life. Change could mean giving up a permanent job to take a temporary assignment, like I did when I went to Amsterdam. Some people thought it was risky, but I did it. I had a good time and learned a lot. And the skills I learned, I now use for my new permanent position. A job I would not have managed to do had I not learned the appropriate skills in the hospital in Amsterdam. It was a side step, one step to the left and one forward. Often, people are afraid of the side step in life. But it is the one step slightly diverting you off-track that can still move you forward eventually.

Another change is relationships and the people you surround yourself with. Unfortunately, I am not in touch with many people from the Netherlands anymore. Just my family of course. But even my brother moved to Finland and is even married now. He'll start a family there. And my parents are still in the Netherlands. Obviously changes none of us could have predicted a decade ago, but just what happens in life. And provided you are healthy and relatively satisfied, the downside of seeing each other less, is just an unfortunate reality. But I do not have friends in the Netherlands anymore, as every but the strongest contacts water down over time. My friends moved on and so did I. And at some point there is no sense to meet up anymore, because there are no shared experiences anymore to cherish or to reflect on. It would once again be like meeting a stranger. But there's always those friends that you can meet after a decade and it would be the same. Perhaps it's just me, but I have an easier time moving on from people. Just because I've had to do it over and over after living in five countries.

The change is in missing people. Whether a friend or a relative. Your brother or sister. Once you live abroad, even once you spend a small amount of time in another country, you are bound to make new connections. And you will then move on, and so will they. This can only mean you'll end up missing someone. All the time. You will however find peace and solace in it, as well as learning to accept that sometimes, out of sight really means out of mind. Think of that old friend at work who left or your buddy in that sports club. They left and did you ever think of them again? Perhaps once or twice, but really? That's the constant change in life. And in fact it can be liberating, because it also means you can let go of other people's opinion of you. As perhaps they are not thinking about you nearly as much as you think.

The one thing is again change. It will come whether you want it or not. And it is often those who resist change who eventually are blown apart when their rigid lives are shaken up by a forced change coming from this universe. Being too resistant to change, whether positive or negative, will eventually break a person apart if they are too tense to embrace it. I attempt to sometimes approach life from the angle that change is inevitable and sometimes I jump into the deep end to change myself before I am forced to change. To find a new place to live, a new job, a new sport I am nervous to try. But even then, I am in Bulgaria for nearly a decade, and at some point it might be time to change that as well. But that is what comfort does, once you get life good and easy, you stop posting frequent blog posts as I have. Or stay put and just relax for a bit. And perhaps that is just where I am supposed to be right now, as that is a change from my hasty self I was just a few years ago. I hope life is treating you well.

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