I have to change to stay the same

On the Blaak in Rotterdam — dwarfed by modern offices — stands an old bank building. The brick walls carry a red tile roof, under which an art academy nests. In its front two plane trees stand, and there’s a quote above the door that reads: “I have to change to stay the same.”

Four years I went through that door, not understanding the quote. I thought semesters would bring me to bloom, not change, and that I just needed the time, that I’d grow the way a flower grows. I didn’t yet understand that time and change are exactly the same thing.

Before graduating, I started my first real job ever, at Vandebron, like the first day at school. Vandebron had just started, and there wasn’t much apart from a few desks, binders full of prints, and five guys. There was a plan, and a name that had just changed.

But you just start, try your best and everything works. Suddenly, in the perceived length of a movie, there’s a company with so many colleagues that you cannot remember all the names. You feel older as you see the insecurity you once had in others.

Sometimes I wonder whether Vandebron is a success, or whether the moment on which we can call it that is yet to come. These two-and-a-half years have been equally good as though. I have this inner-voice that haunts me like Bundini: “That wasn’t good enough”, “you should change that”, and “you could do better there”. But despite how infinite and annoying it is, I also love that voice.

I know I’ve done things alright, but was it good or luck? Maybe it doesn’t matter and maybe we’re not supposed to understand everything.

Although you love them, eventually you outgrow the very things that shaped you. What you don’t want to see is like the small patch of water between the harbor and a departing ship. And if time is indeed the synonym of change, it’s not so weird how we want different things at different moments in our lives.

Leaving my first job to my second job, at KesselsKramer, has taught me that you can only have half the things you desperately want from life. It’s tragic, but on a brighter note, it’s nice that at least we get to choose which half.

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