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Impressionism: How taught me to befriend Uncertainty

Hi all it's Fabian from the Think- and occasionally do-be-team!

For those as fortunate and privileged, you and I may have had similar ways of being raised. We were told to dream big. To reach for the moon. But to some of us, we were told to reach for the stars. To others, the moon was already too far. But my father taught me something else – to reach for the unknown. Before you think of this blog as a self-help cliché with cheesy Tumblr quotes, I ask you to read with an open mind. To interpret things not so instinctively, but critically. And by critical I don’t mean to be negative, but to understand words deeper than its individual meaning. To explore the nuances of a phrase and not to take it in immediately with your usual interpretations.

We were told to dream big. But big meant many things for others. For most, it has to be foreseeable, realistic, and within reach. Which is after all the most logical way of structuring a goal. Why reach the unreachable? But my Father’s definition of unreachable is not something that is out of reach. It's about accepting what you don’t know and letting that enter. Being comfortable with uncertainty.

If I lost you in the first two paragraphs, let me shift the narrative to how we work at Here, we work based on the philosophy of impressionism. If our CEO and founder Takeshi has not written a blog about this, he will, so I’ll save some details. Simply, Takeshi was inspired by impressionist artists, who were breaking “norms” with their styles. These artists did not have a clear idea of what they want, but they know what they did not want, which was in the end a big contribution to defining their authentic selves. Of course, this does not mean walking aimlessly. Instead, it means that here in, we are constantly repositioning ourselves. We adapt quickly and move strategically. We are resilient (if that’s not obvious from our name). It means we can survive with the hardest hits, such as the pandemic.

So how does this relate to dreaming big? For many reasons, impressionism has made me less anxious: I don’t have to overthink the future, yet I am comfortable dreaming big and I am not afraid of any obstacles. It made me a Nihilistic Optimist or Optimistic Nihilist; I’ll save this topic for another time.

Going back to my narrative as a child. I remembered at age 15, I was told by a teacher that “I’m sorry Fabian, if by now you still don’t know what you’ll become, it’s already too late”. That sort of scarred me and confused me for years. How could someone have the audacity to tell a 15-year-old, it’s too late to make life plans because he didn’t know what he’ll exactly become. Maybe my teacher did not understand that I have more than a handful of interests to choose from, hence I couldn’t answer the question of “who I want to be”. Had I known the word Polymath that’s probably what I would have answered.

Fast forward to now, graduated with a Liberal arts degree from the Netherlands, specializing in Neuroscience in Italy, then landed in Bali to be in, writing proposals, papers, and blogs and occasionally installing biogas digesters. Of course, I could not say this was who I was going to be when I was 15. I didn’t know where I would end up, but I knew where I didn’t want to go. By knowing what I didn’t want, I stuck with places that I resonate with. In this case is a place that cannot be contained in one box. A multidimensional organization, not exclusive to a research organization, coffee and chocolate store, biogas factory, or many more things. This inspires me to keep exploring without knowing where that would lead.

So, one big thing I learned is that something that happened unplanned does not discredit one’s decisions. Coincidence is not purely due to an external factor. I learned in that knowing what I did not want contributed if not more, as much as knowing what I did want. Trust that with uncertainty, there’s a lot more you actually already know. That not seeing the horizon does not mean you are lost. I think this is what my father wanted to teach me, to have the courage to reach for something without knowing what it is. To keep moving, despite the fog in sight. And so moves, prolonging the life of impressionism for years to come.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ll be inspired to keep moving in a world with a future full of ambiguity. After all, we are the ones defining what the world means to us – and eventually to others.

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Nov 29, 2020

This is what people need to solve the anxiety and fear in life. We have to be comfortable with uncertainty.


Nov 27, 2020

Thanks, Fab! It's worth 3-min reading! You described very well how to embrace uncertainty :)


Very inspirational a 3min read. Everyone has to read this!!

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