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“You should get a real job!”

Petra Olli, wrestler, world champion

The job of a professional athlete includes constant travelling, brutal training, competing and being under severe pressure. It takes enormous resilience and determination to live a disciplined life day in, day out, as well as to push oneself to become the world's best.

But what happens when you have spent years pursuing the brightest medals in the world, and suddenly it all stops? Life comes to a standstill.

Thinking retrospectively, the end of my wrestling career, a period of stagnation and unemployment, was a very freeing and meaningful breather. Systematic competitive sports over many years and the brutal work for it have demanded a lot. I realized as a 25-year-old that I had reached a place where I had time to breathe and plan the future. Which direction do I want to take from here?

The word “unemployment” has a bit of a negative sound, but nowadays, few stay completely inactive. Unemployment can be very versatile, active hustling, short-term inactivity, anxious gloom, energetic functioning and everything in between! There are no specific frames in which unemployment could be immersed.

“You should get a real job!”

I have repeatedly heard these kind of comments and the words have inevitably stayed in the back of my mind. What is a real job? Isn't the job of a professional athlete respectable enough? Who defines a “real job” in our hectic society anymore?

Where do these outdated thoughts and attitude stem from?

Ways of working are changing, the world is changing and so does unemployment. Old beliefs and prejudices end up directly in the bin. We are experiencing the turning point of unemployment.

I remember the period without familiar and safe work very fondly. It was a time of active hustling, living in the moment being creative and sporty. For the first time in my life, I had space to stop and create something new and do things that are meaningful to myself.

Each person has their own unique path to walk along. Some gather new strength by searching for a new job, some come to a standstill, others take a breather. The most important thing, though, is to stay active and keep the mind lively.

My path is going through a sort of standstill towards a new ascent.

Dear reader, seek and find your own path, and let others walk their own paths.

Petra Olli