Joie de Vivre is French for “the joy of living.” It refers to the little things in life that make each and every one of us feel alive. Whether it is sharing lunch with your grandparents, catching up with friends, the beauty of a silent evening at home or a relaxing day by the beach to clear your head; whatever makes you happy is your joie de vivre. So be happy.
Article in brief: This article only scratches the surface of the fear, confusion, anxiety and hope that is associated with trying to do more than what is expected out of you.
Sitting in my one-bedroom apartment in a little town outside of Paris that I called home last year, I began to think about what it was I wanted to get out of my year abroad. Was it just an MBA? Was it just a personal development experience? Was it just an opportunity to meet people from all over the world that seemed to be after the same thing I was? Was it all of the above? or was it something more?
From the minute our class set foot on campus, we were bombarded with questions about what it was we wanted to do post-graduation. We were asked to already start updating our CV and make it industry-appropriate. We were pushed into mass networking sessions where you were told that markets were tough but companies were still recruiting top-tier talent. We were overwhelmed by all the noise and all the talk about the future that seemed so far away. Besides, each and every one of us had gotten in to one of the top business schools of the world; so getting a job on the other end was bound to be a piece of cake.
Four months passed and we realized just how wrong we were to assume that we had all the time in the world. The class that graduated before were no longer coming to the same dinners and weekend trips as we were; they were slowly being replaced by a brand new class of MBA candidates who worried about how they were going to balance their workload, their social life and of course, their sanity.
I tried to take some time every month to sit and reflect on the classes, the experiences, and the overall opportunity I found myself in. I began to think about what I wanted to do when I came back home. I found myself filled with fear that my life would go back to what it was before and the entire MBA experience was going to be a “tick-in-the-box.” I forced myself to structure my thinking and to look at the various opportunities that, quite literally, came knocking. I couldn’t think of a particular field I wanted to be in, so I started thinking of the kind of person I wanted to be. I came across an image as I surfed the web and the many blogs I follow and a quote stuck with me.
“The only thing I really wish to do with my life is to inspire someone. I want to touch someone’s life so much that they can genuinely say that if they have never met me they wouldn’t be the person they are today. I want to save someone: save them from this cold, dark and lonely world. I wish to be someone’s hero, someone that people look up to. I only wish to make a change, even if it’s a small one.
I just want to do more than exist.”
That’s exactly what I wanted to be, minus the melodramatic bits of course. I wanted to do more than simply exist. I wanted to push myself and then push myself some more. I wanted to set goals that seem very far-fetched and then strive to achieve them. That was the exact moment when I realized that life was so much more beautiful when you take a leap outside your comfort zone. This was where I wasn’t afraid of failing, because, as cliché as it may seem, I turned every potential failure into a learning opportunity which helped me keep my head above water. Months later, I decided to stay on the outside of my (and sometimes even my parents’) comfort zone, because until I find people who are looking for a hero, I’ll be my own.
Haif Zamzam is a bon viveur who just can’t get enough of life. Her inflexibility for the norm coupled with her constant hunt for a challenge pushed her to the private sector where she is a professional in a top-tier consulting firm. Haif has an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelors degree from the AUS. Through her column, Joie de Vivre, French for “Joy of Living,” Haif hopes to show how living with your head in the clouds is highly underrated.